Frugal Kitchen Tips – Make the Most of Meat

I’m (Becky) a working mom married to a working hubby and feel like I’m always on the go.  Between going to the chiropractor three days a week, homework, projects, housework, real work, the gym and taking care of the zoo my house has become, the last thing I want to do is slave in front of the stove every night.  Don’t get me wrong, I actually enjoy cooking.  I love trying new recipes, especially baking, but we’re trying to avoid the whole casserole thing for health reasons and there is only so much grilled chicken my kids can choke down. So, when meat is on sale, I stock up. Some of the easy things to do are double up on your meals and freeze half.  I often will make two batches of Chicken Divan (ohamanda’s recipe is the best!) or double/triple batches of taco meat, but today I’m going to focus on large cuts of meat. Here are some of the ways I ready my meat for quick recipes:

Whole Chickens

I have about 5 chickens in my deep freezer right now. Once a week is I roast a chicken and we either eat the meat or I use it in a recipe.  Then I take the bones and place them in a slow cooker with ½ an onion, a handful of carrots, a stalk or two of celery and some garlic.  I cover it with cold water and cook it all night long on low.  In the morning before work, I strain the stock and place it in the fridge.  All week long, every time I make rice or when a recipe calls for water, I use the stock.  It is full of nutrients and takes literally 5 extra minutes since you’re already using the chicken meat!

Chuck Roast - used w/permission Flickr Creative Commons, photo by benketaro

Chuck Roast – used w/permission Flickr Creative Commons, photo by benketaro

Chuck Roasts

When boneless beef chuck roasts are on sale, I’ll buy 5 or 6 and get them ready for my sister in law’s Smoky Beef Taco recipe.  For each roast, stir together ½ cup of ketchup, 8 cloves of chopped garlic, 2 chipotle chilies in adobo (they come in cans in the Mexican section), 2 T oregano and salt & pepper to taste. Cover and bring to a boil.  Once that cools off, pour it into a freezer bag with the roast (which you should cut into four pieces) and freeze.  On cooking day, just put the whole defrosted roast in the slow cooker and cook all day or place it in a covered dish in the oven and bake at 350 degrees for 3 hours or until fork tender. Serve with warmed flour tortillas and shredded Monterrey Jack cheese & whatever other taco condiments you like.  I love corn and red onions.

Pork Loins

When boneless pork loins are on sale, I’ll also stock up on these. My good ole standard pork loin recipe is a mixture of soy sauce, pineapple juice and garlic.  Again, place in a freezer bag and then it is oven, grill or slow cooker ready! My new favorite is the Asian Peanut Butter Pork from the November menu on OAMM.  It is so rich and divine!

Chicken Breasts

When boneless chicken breasts go on sale for $1.99/lb I stock up.  Usually I’ll just freeze them, but one of our favorite yummy and easy meals are chicken quesadillas.  Place the chicken breasts in a slow cooker with whole or chopped green chilies.  For every 4 breasts used, you will need one 4 oz can of chilies.  Don’t add any extra water.  Cook them for about 8 hours on low and then shred with a fork.  8 breasts will make about 3 meals worth (for a family of four).  Portion and freeze in freezer bags.  To make the quesadillas, place shredded chicken and shredded Monterrey Jack cheese in between two flour tortillas and toast on a skillet until cheese is melted and tortillas are nicely browned.  This chicken is so juicy and flavorful.  You won’t need any other seasoning- not even salt.

Pork Shoulder - picture from The Pioneer Woman Cooks

Pork Shoulder – picture from The Pioneer Woman Cooks

Pork Shoulder

My favorite new recipe comes from The Pioneer Woman’s new cookbook– Spicy Pulled Pork- it is perfect for making in bulk and freezing! In a food processor, blend 1 onion, 1 T chili powder, ½ c brown sugar, 4 garlic cloves, 1 tsp oregano, 2 tsp cumin, 1-2 T salt, ground pepper to taste and 3 T olive oil, 2 T white wine vinegar. Rub this mixture all over a 5-7 lb pork shoulder, and freezer bag it!  When you are ready to cook it, place in a roasting pan with 2 c of water, cover tightly and cook at 300 degrees for 6-7 hours, turning each hour. (I’m sure you could cook in a slow cooker too). Shred and serve with lime wedges and warmed flour tortillas. Delish!

About Becky:

Becky is a minivan driving Kindergarten teacher and a mom of two beautiful kids. She started blogging a few years ago and has loved it ever since.  She’s a wanna-be photographer, famous chef and crafty diva. Emphasis is on wanna-be. She likes to garden, read and watch tv. She’s a total Twilight Mom and a Nerdfighter too. She’ll be at Blissdom this year, and hopes to meet lots of you.  You can find her at www.thevioletfig.blogspot .com and on Twitter @TheVioletFig. **Don’t forget to enter the Merry Monday’s Bob Evans giveaway going on now through Friday, December 11th.

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