Buy A Ham On Sale And Save Some Money! Get A Ham For Less Than $2.00 A Pound And Make Countless Meals!
Ham Sales Can Stretch Your Food Budget!
Buying ham on sale can stretch your food budget more than any other meat! Every year, when the holidays approach, ham is a popular choice for meals, but it is ignored at other times of the year. Taking advantage of the low price of ham will save alot of money. So many meals can be made from just one whole or half ham. For the last several years, whole or half hams have gone on sale for 99 cents per pound during the holiday season, beginning with Thanksgiving and ending right after New Year's Day. Spend ten or fifteen dollars by buying a whole or half ham and rack up the savings! Even at other times of the year, ham is a great investment and savings! You may have to pay a little bit more during the summer, but the cost per serving is still minimal.
If you are not planning to use a ham for a meat entree, consider buying it and cutting it up for other things. The options are almost endless, starting with comforting soups such as split pea, minestrone or lentil. Ham is the one meat I can think of that can be used for each meal of the day. Breakfast, lunch and dinner can all be built around ham.
Make Some Meals From Ham That Everyone Loves!
I purchase a Farmer John pre-cooked, spiral sliced ham (bone-in) for around $12.00. I can't count the number of meals I make from just one ham, but will attempt to recall them. When I get the ham home, I immediately begin cutting it up. Because it was pre-sliced, my work was easier. I packaged the portions in sizes that were suitable to my needs. The first was what I had planned to use for sandwiches for the upcoming week. That went into the deli bin of my refrigerator. The cost of the entire ham was close to the usual cost of sliced deli-meats for lunches alone. But I had more, much more to divide up and package. I planned split pea and lentil soup, two of my favorites. The decision was tough, but I decided to use the bone for the split pea soup. There is nothing better than a ham bone, with some meat on it, cooked for several hours, in a huge pot of split pea soup! When I make split pea soup, I make enough for about sixteen servings. It really is comfort food!
The next package was 3 thick slices of ham that I chopped into bite-sized pieces and labeled for the lentil soup. The recipe also makes about sixteen servings. That bag, as well as the baggie with the ham bone, went into the freezer.
The third package was to be used that night for dinner and lunch the next day. My version of au gratin potatoes with ham is one of my all-time favorites! Some chopped onions, some potatoes, sharp cheddar cheese, a little bit of milk, butter and flour, added to a small amount of chopped ham and then baking it in the oven is the best!
We all know that traditional winter meals are far different than our normal summer fare. Those cool, light summer dinners are most often replaced with the meals that not only warm up our stomachs, but our kitchens as well. But even during the summer, ham can be added to a macaroni salad or egg salad. Try diced ham in a ham, cheese and egg burrito! They are great!
The next baggie went for what my mom called Spanish rice. I never knew what the Spanish part was, but as a child, I knew it was good! Ham pieces, with sauteed onions and green bell peppers then had tomatoes and rice added to it and became a wonderful main course that my brother, sister and I loved! There was always enough for lunch the next day and that made us happy!
At the time, the use for the final baggie was undetermined, but I did use it. I ended up making an experimental version of pasta fagioli soup with ham. My pasta fagioli soup never really ends up being a soup. I guess it is more like a casserole with extra liquid, if I really have to describe it. Pasta fagioli is cannellini beans with ditalini pasta cooked in a broth, with some bacon, celery, onions, olive oil, garlic (of course there is garlic!) and some tomatoes. Italian families in this country were very poor when they emigrated to the US from Italy. Pasta fagioli was a staple, one the cheapest, nutritious meals they ate all the time. It was extraordinary and I haven't thought about it since I was a child.
How Many Meals Did I Actually Make?
I still haven't added up the number of meals I was able to make with that $12.00 ham. With the soups alone, I was able to divide each pot of soup into two big containers. I froze the second container from each pot for lunch or dinner during another week.
We would all like to save some money and a ham can help, year round!
The Two Recipes That Have Already Been Made With This Year's Ham!
Besides sandwiches, this year's ham has already been used for a big pot of yellow split pea soup. The link to the recipe is: http://hubpages.com/hub/Split-Pea-And-Lentil-Soup-Recipes-Winter-Comfort-Foods.
The second recipe is for the best scalloped potatoes with ham that I have ever had!
Best Scalloped Potatoes:
- 2 cups of chopped ham
- 2 Tablespoons of canola oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 6 medium russett potatoes, peeled and sliced round shaped and fairly thin
- 5 Tablespoons of Butter
- 6 Tablespoons of flour
- 3/4 teaspoon of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground, black pepper
- 4 cups of whole or 2% milk
- 1 cup of chicken broth
Pour the canola oil into a large skillet and heat. Drop in the ham and brown it like you would bacon, crisping up most of the ham. Add the diced onions and saute them til tender. Remove from heat.
Put the sliced potatoes into a pot and cook until tender. Drain and set aside until the sauce is finished.
For the sauce: In a fairly large pot, melt the butter, with the salt and pepper. Whisk in the flour. Allow the mixture to bubble and cook for a couple of minutes while stirring. While whisking, add the chicken broth. Continue to whisk and add the milk. On a medium high heat, cook the sauce until it comes to a full boil and thickens. Make sure to stir this while you are cooking it. When the sauce is finished, add the onions and ham and combine thoroughly. Test for salt.
Take a 9X13 inch baking pan and spray. Pour in the potatoes and gently stir in the sauce. Place in a 350 degree oven for one half hour. Raise the heat to 375 degrees and cook for an additional 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve. This will feed 4 adults a generous side dish, with leftovers. A couple more potatoes and it could be enough as a main dish for 4 with a salad and vegetable. It is truly a comfort food!