Today was the festival of meat. No, no..Im not talking about the wifeswap/swingers gathering at the strip joint across town (Thats on Thursdays anyway). Like all good stories, it requires a little backstory.
I was in the shop and had, sadly, finished the last Coke in the fridge. So I figured I’d head over to Albertson’s, grab a 12-pack and as long as Im there I would hit the meat counter and see if there was any remaindered meat to be had. I get to the meat counter and they’ve got 85/15 ground beef marked down to $1.99/#. Not great, but good enough to warrant parting with a $20 for 10# of the stuff. (Normally its something like $2.79 or $2.99 a pound.) I ask the girl why its on sale…after all, it wasnt mentioned in the sales circular at the front of the store. She said that they had ordered too much of the stuff and needed to get rid of it. Ah, she had me at “get rid of it”. Casually, I ask “So…you got any room to move on the price if I take more? Like 20# or so?” She says she’ll have to go ask her manager. She comes back and says if I take at least 25# they’ll knock it back to:
Well, at that point the wheels started spinning in my head. Sure, I can get protein from beans and rice like a large part of the Third World, but why subject yourself to that if you dont have to? I’ll take 50# please. I get on the cellphone and call the wife. Tell her to gear up, we’ve got a date at Albertsons. Pick her up (the meat folks needed somet ime to package all that beed) and we head to the counter to pick it up. As we’re at the checkout line I anticipate the question from the checkout girl about why we have a case of Coke, a case of Mountain Dew and 50# of raw meat. Sure enough…”Wow. What are you going to do with all that meat?” and my wife, who has up to this point in our relationship been, shall we say, comedically challenged, deadpans “Atkins diet.” The checkout girl nods her head sagely saying something about having some relatives who were on that plan. Who knew?
So, back to base with our beef. (Not to be confused with beef base, which is a whole other thing.) Clear off the kitchen counter and grab the camera for a trophy picture:
Because Im an evil yuppie survivalist I happen to have an evil yuppie survivalist luxury/toy – a freezer. So all this meat is going to wind up in the freezer to be kept, used, and hoarded against…well, whatever it is that we’re expecting to rock our world. Trouble is, you take that meat, as packaged, and drop it into the freezer and youre going to have a buncha freezer burned cowflesh in very short order. It’ll be edible, but it wont be attractive. Plus, it really needs to be broken down into smaller portions to facilitate storage.
If youre like me (and, really, I hope you arent because, frankly, you can do better) you probably have a drawer or cabinet in your kitchen that is full of mismatched Tupperware-style food containers. I cleaned ours out last week of mismatched containers but saved one that seemed useful for the task before me. I discovered that if I use it as a mold, I can make bricks of ground beef that weigh about 1.5# each. A good size for my uses and, most importantly, it allows me to stack them in the freezer more efficiently. So, I grabbed a box of wax paper, my brick o’ meat mold, and a roll of vacuum sealer material and got busy.
So for the next several hours it was fill mold, empty mold onto sheet of wax paper, wrap meat in wax paper (to facilitate sliding it into the bag), slide it into the vacuum sealer bag, seal it, stuff it in the freezer behind me, repeat….
It was a tedious job and when it was all done there were about 34 bricks of beef to be shuttled from the kitchen to the deep freeze in the basement. Once they firm up in the freezer I’ll take a marker to them and label them (“85/15″) and write the date on them for reference. They should last several years. Heres an idea of what the finished product looks like. Stacks neatly and ready for a trip to the freezer.
Coupled with the last few trips to the bargain meat bin, theres about 70# of just ground beef down there right now. Versatile enough for taco filling, spaghetti sauce, hamburgers, meatloaf, or any other yummy dish that springs to mind.
Was it expensive to do this? Not really. We had about $50 left over from this months grocery budget and advanced the rest from next months budget…which is good because it means that ground beef is off the list for next months shopping. I bought my deep freeze in 1992 and actually split the cost with someone so I’ve gotten about 18 years of freezer usage for $150. Honestly, though, you can find used freezers all day long in Craigslist….theyre really quite affordable. The vacuum sealer has been a staple in my kitchen for almost as long and it has paid for itself many times over by allowing me to take advantage of deals like the one today. On paper, we saved about $75 on meat…and we would not have been able to take advantage of that without the freezer or the vacuum sealer. So, that $75 that was saved could be applied against their initial cost if you needed to justify their purchase.
All in all a productive day for food security.