Provident Living Idea

February 28, 2009 | 15 comments
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Since more people are budget-minded these days, I thought I’d begin an occasional series of frugal ideas.

I’ve written before about taking advantage of good sales at my local over-priced grocery store. Here’s an example of how I do that with meat.

This week, boneless chicken breasts are on sale at $1.44/pound ($1.77/pound less $10 off of a $50 purchase). I bought . . . a lot. Here’s what I did with them:

(1) Preheat oven to 350.

(2) Put six breasts in one baking dish and cover with:
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup soy sauce
1 T ginger
2 cloves of garlic

(3) Put six breasts in a baking dish and cover with:
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup butter
1/4 c mustard
1 t salt
1 t curry powder

(4) Put six breasts in a baking dish and cover with:
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup finely diced sun-dried tomatoes
1 clove of garlic
1 t salt

(5) Bake all for an hour. Allow to cool. You can either dice it or place whole pieces in freezer bags. Label and store.

I keep a list of what is in my freezer on the inside of a pantry door and I plan meals based on what I already have. (My husband and I aren’t big meat eaters, so this chicken will probably be diced and served over salad or pasta or a rice bowl.) Not only do I save about 50% by buying when things are on sale, I save prep and clean-up time by cooking in bulk. I can also cook on a Saturday morning when I have more time as opposed to a Thursday afternoon when I’m busy. (Even more savings if it means I don’t give in to the “it’s 5:17 and I have no idea what to make–let’s just eat out” syndrome.)

15 Responses to Provident Living Idea

  1. Adam Greenwood on February 28, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    Good ideas, JMS.

  2. Bookslinger on February 28, 2009 at 1:48 pm

    Great! Sounds like something from http://www.hillbillyhousewife.com/

    I’ve taken a few ideas from there. I never thought about pre-cooking then freezing.

    Usually I use fold-top sandwich bags to individual wrap the chicken filets, squeeze out the air, then put 4 of them in a quart sized real freezer bag.

    To mix it up, I use an electric meat grinder to grind the chicken filets, put 6 to 8 oz of ground chicken breast in the fold-top sandwich bag and freeze 4 in an overall freezer bag.

    I use “good” oils to replace the missing fat when frying/browning the ground chicken, since it is normally 98% lean, and won’t brown well unless you add oil.

    We pay $1.87/pound here when on sale.

    Cheap boneless round steaks are $1.99 to $2.19/lb here when on sale. I trim off as much fat and connective tissue as possible, and grind, making 95% to 97% lean hamburger, which normally would cost $4/lb or $3 to $3.5/lb even when on sale. As with ground chicken breasts, add “good oils” to replace the fat so it fries well.

  3. Sterling on February 28, 2009 at 7:05 pm

    What would be really interesting is if wards could create web sites where members could visit different stores and enter the prices for various goods. Then the web site could identify the best deals for certain items and save members some money on their grocery shopping.

  4. Proud Daughter of Eve on February 28, 2009 at 10:22 pm

    This kind of cooking depends on having lots of freezer space. Any ideas for those with little freezer space?

  5. Julie M. Smith on February 28, 2009 at 10:52 pm

    Bookslinger, I’ve toyed with the idea of getting a meat slicer to do my own lunch meat, but I’ve never thought about a grinder . . .

    PDoE: I only have a normal-sized freezer. (I can’t see putting a freezer in our normally-120-degree garage . . .) All that is in it is juice concentrates in the door, ice cubes, my stash of frozen cooked meats, and the week’s supply of frozen veggies. I can fit maybe 30 meals of meat it in.

  6. Sam B. on March 1, 2009 at 12:57 am

    It’s also worth noting that chicken with bones and skin, and chicken that is not breast meat (e.g., thighs) are less expensive than boneless, skinless chicken.

    And, in spite of our American disdain of anything flavorful, non-white meat is often better; buying a whole chicken drops the per-pound price to almost nothing, and a good roasted chicken can work for all sorts of meals.

  7. jks on March 1, 2009 at 3:49 am

    Wow, you must have the exact same grocery sales as me because that is exactly what I did. Except I don’t have much luck with freezing cooked chicken, I just freeze it raw.

  8. Bookslinger on March 1, 2009 at 2:39 pm

    Sam: Yes, occasionally, you can get Chicken leg quarters (with bones and skin) for as low as 59 cents/pound. But most often, they are 99 cents/pound. Chicken breasts (with bone and skin) are often 99 cents/pound on sale. However, once you filet them (remove bone/skin) the price per pound of meat then approaches the sale price of boneless/skinless. I end up spending so much time trying to get the last bit of meat off the stuff that comes with bone/skin, that I find buying chicken breast filets in the first place for $1.87/pound is the most economical for me, and it’s the most healthy (least fat) too, and the quickest cooking.

    Cooking chicken leg quarters also takes longer than just cutting and stir frying a fileted chicken breast. Or frying up some ground chicken in corn oil, grape-seed oil, olive oil; which I use as a base of some recipes.

    Julie: I bought some meat grinders on ebay from “boomer-skoomer”. You can occasionally get real deals since she inserts items for auction at $.01, and if you catch a day/week when no one else bids. Check her non-ebay store at http://www.sillypugs.com for “regular discount” prices, and even her “buy it now” ebay price is usually better than her other store at sillypugs.com.

    Sam: One advantage of buying the chicken breasts with bone and with skin, is if you filet them manually (even if you’re sloppy and leave bits of meat on the bone), you can use a sufficiently powerful electric grinder to grind the bones/skin/cartilege into raw dog food (BARF). It is explained on http://www.sillypugs.com and with links at boomer-skoomer on ebay.

    The SB-500 and TS-110 are powerful enough to grind any bone found in a chicken, including leg, neck and back-bone. I have the SB-500. I run the chicken breast filets intended for me through it first, bag ‘em and put in freezer, then grind up the skin/bones/fat (if I bought em with bone/skin) for friends’ dogs. Don’t cook the dog food, just give it to them raw, along with vegetables. I forget the ratio of meat/vegetables for dogs, but for cats, they can eat 100% “BARF” without added veggies.

  9. Kaimi on March 1, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    I have a better Provident Living idea. Move next door to Julie. B-)

  10. idahospud on March 1, 2009 at 6:57 pm

    I love the idea and the recipes, Julie! Thank you!

  11. Starfoxy on March 2, 2009 at 8:37 pm

    I do something similar but with the huge blocks of cheese from Costco. I get it home, cut it into manageable chunks with fishing line tied between two butter knives, wrap each chunk in a napkin, put it all into as few freezer bags as possible. When I need more cheese, I take out a chunk, put it in a little baggie and let it thaw in the fridge. So I only really buy cheddar once every couple months. The only hard part is that you can’t defrost cheese quickly at all.

    I started doing this for the nursery snacks, except I would cube the huge block, and separate the cubes into baggies (3 pieces for each kid). On Sunday mornings I take one baggie out of my freezer and it’s ready to eat by snacktime.

  12. Brian Duffin on March 3, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    My wife started bottling meat several months ago. Of course, we found that we liked the taste of the bottled meat so much that we started eating it for dinner. So much for food storage.

    It is always nice to have a ready-to-eat meal for the nights when you don’t want to cook and are tempted to eat out.

  13. Brian Duffin on March 3, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    Kaimi, #9:

    A friend of mine who has quite the extensive gun collection lives next door to a member of the Church with an impressive and vast food storage supply. One of my friend’s neighbors made the comment, “I have it made. I live next to you for protection [guns] and next to this Mormon for food.”

    My friend’s reply, “Why do you think I own so many guns? To keep people like you away from my house when times are tough.”

    You might want to reconsider living next to Julie for the purposes of mooching. I hear her neighbor has quite the extensive gun collection. :-)

  14. Mark in MA on March 6, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    Julie, thanks for starting a “frugal series”. I was beginning to think that T&S had lost touch with the practical, based on recent topics.

    Our household purchased an large upright freezer for the basement. The “normal” freezer wouldn’t sustain the storage of sufficient meat, vegetables, and bread after putting our 3-month supply of ice cream there. I hope that our cost-savings from buying in bulk on sale compensates for the cost of freezer + electricity! (Even if not, the convenience of being well-stocked is a plus.)

  15. quin on March 11, 2009 at 12:46 am

    Julie

    Kudos on the recipe/idea. I made the Sun Dried tomato combo chicken last week and it prompted an all-day cook-a-thon! I was able to stock our freezer with 21 ready to thaw and heat meals and not only will it save us time and money, we’ll be eating healthier and I no longer dread 5:00. Thanks so much!

WELCOME

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