Friday, January 28, 2011

Prepare Ahead: buying larger quantities of meat to pre-marinate, spice, dice, and sauce them yourself!

About once every week or two I buy several larger packages of meat and end up spending about 20 or 30 minutes with them.
How do you know what is a good price for meat? Start by looking at the price per pound or the price per kilogram. The price per kilo for regular ground beef will usually be the cheapest; the price per kilo for boneless skinless chicken breasts will be the most. 

With beef, watch the prices per kilo and compare them to other cuts - when I bought these “marinating” steaks, they were $1.20 per kilo cheaper than cubed stewing beef!!
Another important thing to watch is the “best before" date or the “packed on” date. I always want to take home the freshest meat, so next to the price per pound, that is the next most important.
This week, I bought one package of marinating steaks and one package of chicken thighs with the bone in.

In our family, lunch is leftovers from dinner the night before, so when I am packing up meat, I am actually packaging one dinner and one lunch for four. 

This is a wonderful opportunity to plan ahead if you are cooking for one or two or if there are several nights of the week when you need to throw something in the slow cooker or the oven on low before you run out the door for a few hours. This pre-planning has saved us from eating dinner out and spending nearly $40 when the dinner in the oven costs less than $10 and will also feed us lunch tomorrow. 

So what did I do with chicken thighs and steaks?

Chicken Bag #1: Curry Chicken

1 large, sealable freezer bag
3 tbsp curry powder*
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
half of the chicken thighs, 13 in all

>>> Mix the spices together in the bag then toss the chicken in and squish around until it is well coated. I added the seeds because they look beautiful when the chicken is cooked and they are already in the curry, so the flavours will match well. 

FREEZING INSTRUCTIONS >>> Lay the meat flat in the freezer as this works best for throwing it in the oven in a roasting pan when it is still frozen! If you will be putting it into the Crockpot, form the meat into a shape to fit in there frozen!

*NOTE: if you do not have curry powder, go to your local Asian market and buy a bag of it. Alternately, go to the Asian aisle at your local super market and get a bag of it there.

Chicken Bag #2: I Miss Shake'N'Bake

1 large, sealable freezer bag

1 tbsp Montreal Steak Spice

1 tbsp mustard seeds

1 tbsp paprika

1 tbsp ground coriander

1 tbsp garlic powder 

1 tbsp thyme (sounds like "time")

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp chili flakes

1 tsp ground cumin

>>> Mix all the spices in the bag. Dump in the chicken thighs (between 12 & 16) and toss until all are covered. Repeat the freezing instructions above.

Why not pick up a box of Shake'N'Bake? Too many preservatives!

Beef Bag #1: The Italian

1 large, sealable freezer bag
1 tbsp dried oregano 
1 head of garlic; whole, minced, or sliced (or 2 tbsp of ground garlic)
1 tbsp capers
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 bunch of fresh marjoram (or thyme or rosemary)

>>> Mix all of the above in the bag before adding the beef. I minced the steak into tiny pieces as we enjoy the texture (slice the steaks then whack away with a meat cleaver until it looks like this - check the photo).

I have a plastic cutting board that is only for meat; when I am finished using it, I wash it with dish soap and bleach and then pop it into the dishwasher.

This beef is amazing when you pop it in a fast lasagna or just roast it with a diced onion, covered with foil or a lid. Make a quick salad and pasta when you get home and serve the meat over the noodles. Add a can of tomatoes to make it more "spaghetti-ish" or a good shlop of sour cream to make it more "stroganoff-ish". 

I also made two other bags of meat; one for Korean BBQ and the other is ready to be chucked into a chili, spices all done - all I have to do is dump it into a crock pot with a few cans of beans and tomatoes, and that's it! 

And now I know that I have five dinners waiting for me in the freezer; as easy as taking them out and throwing them in the oven on my way out the door.


  1. Here's what I do to save money on groceries when it comes to meat. I only buy meat that is on sale or is Buy One Get One Free. I do the same with my other groceries. I let the sales determine my meal plan for the next week or so. Also, I LOVE the idea of the food bags. Genius!

  2. Julie - excellent idea! Sales are key - and a great way to "organize ahead" like I do with the meat.

    When vegetables and fruit go 'on sale' it is usually because they are in season and plentiful - it also means they are FRESH.