Stretching Meat to Last All Week
If you are like most people, you enjoy meat at your meals. However, meat is one of the more expensive ingredients in your kitchen. If you were to serve a meat dish to your family each night at dinner, you could easily spend $50 or more each week on meat alone. There are ways to stretch your meat to make it last longer. Meat does not have to be the main ingredient in every meal. Treating meat more like a side dish will make it stretch much longer.
The first meat I would like to talk about is roast. Typically a large roast is a special occasion type of meal. If I spend around $15 for a nice roast I expect to get a lot more out of it than one meal. I start by cooking it nice and slow in the crock-pot. I always add lots of chopped potatoes, onions and carrots as well as a little water and a packet of onion soup mix. What a wonderful dinner I have that night! Save all the leftovers, including the juice.
The next night I usually have a meatless meal to offset the other dinners I will serve that week. Having one meatless meal each week will go a long way in saving money on your grocery bill. The third night I will serve the exact same meal again, you can reheat it in the crock-pot to ensure that it stays nice and moist. This is such a nice meal and so good that having the same meal twice (but not two days in a row) is usually fine when everyone really likes the meal.
After the third night I will divide up the remaining meat into two parts. Finely cut a few slices to go on top of salad for the next night. Serve the meat at room temperature over a large salad with a side of homemade bread and you have a wonderful filling meal. I then shred whatever meat is left and save all the juices.
The fifth night I will heat the meat and juices with a can of beef bouillon. While this is heating I will saute some onions and shred some mozzarella or provolone cheese. This makes great french dip sandwiches that everyone in my family loves. I don't serve roast very often, so when I do we really enjoy it and I try very hard to get the most out of the meat.
Another meat I use for dinners all week is a whole chicken, usually purchased for around $5. The first night I will boil the chicken in water - covering about half way up the chicken. I sprinkle it with salt and pepper to taste. When the chicken is done (about an hour depending on how large the chicken is) I will remove the chicken and strain the broth. In a double broiler I will put 2 cups of long grain rice, salt and pepper to taste, and 4 cups of broth. Once the water boils reduce the heat to medium low and boil until the rice is tender (about an hour). Save any extra broth for chicken noodle soup later in the week.
While the rice is cooking I will take all the meat off the bones. Thinly slice the meat on the breast of the chicken to be used for dinner that night. Once all the meat is off the bones I will put all the bones back into the original pot and fill with water almost to the top. I will then add seasonings such as pepper, thyme, basil, oregano, and fresh minced garlic. I also add a large onion and carrot to give the broth added nutrition and flavor. After all of this I will add a tablespoon of vinegar. The vinegar does not effect the flavor at all, but it does leach the calcium out of the bones and into the broth, making it more nutritious for you. This needs to be cooked on a simmer for an hour and a half to two hours.
While the rice is finishing up, fix whatever side dishes you want to have with the meal. Yummy chicken breasts, rice and vegetables makes a great meal! When you are done with the meal, while you are waiting on the broth to finish you can divide up the rest of the chicken. I like to have another meal later in the week of the chicken and rice. I also set aside some chopped chicken for chicken noodle soup. The night I have the soup I will take the broth out of the fridge and boil it. Once boiling I add a box of rotini pasta, a bag of frozen corn and the chopped chicken. Serve this with homemade bread and you have a wonderfully filling meal.
The rest of the meat I divide into two portions. The rest of the white meat slices I will use for a cold sandwich meal one night. Fix the sandwiches like the fancy delis do with all the toppings and you have a great meal. The rest of the meat I chop up and mix with onions, celery and mayonnaise to make chicken salad sandwiches, which we usually have for lunches. So with one chicken you will have four dinners and a couple lunches. What a deal!
Both of these meal plans require some hands on work from you. However the pay off is great. You will be feeding your family filling, delicious and nutritious meals with meat for much less than the average person spends on meat each week. Enjoy!