I have a whole slew of postings in my head based on my trip to my future-in-laws house this past couple of days, but while waiting I thought I’d write something that I thought up on our walk home from the grocery store earlier this morning. I want to say it’s inspired by my stay up north, but really it’s just one of those things that I’ve always done to save food (and cut down on costs in the long run). The connection however is going through their fridge and freezer and cringing at the amount of food that should be stored better…. sorry guys! In my head it is so much lost money!
While running through the meat section at my neighbourhood Super Store (a Loblaws brand for you west of the east coast) as I couldn’t really afford any protein this trip, I spotted one of those dreaded pink stickers. I say dreaded as I almost always stop down to inspect the deal, usually it’s like this one at 30% off. They are a smart conglomeration, using bright flourescent colours to bring in frugal-freaks like me! This time, it was a good deal, one that I couldn’t pass up. A break to explain the sea of ‘grounds’ to those of you like Rob who are so intimidated of the meat section you don’t even venture… each type refers to the amount of fat content contained. I usually get Medium Ground as it’s the bottom of the barrel. That means that I pay for more fat than other kinds, but I follow the actual portion size amount per meal for meat when I prepare our dishes (about a handful of meat per plate). Couple that with double the amount of veggies, a serving of starch, and a hunk of bread and your set! The other grounds go up from there and follow a system like ‘Lean’ being the next level, followed by ‘Extra Lean’. My parents are meat snobs (ok, my Dad is the snob haha), and won’t buy anything under the best. Mind you, he eats like a caveman isn’t the healthiest. SO I digress…..
Using your hand as a guide, portion your meat out onto sheets of cling film and wrap them so that you don’t have any holes. It doesn’t take that long, so before you start complaining that you’d rather check Facebook than put stuff away, get over it. Next up, take a permanent marker and write the date on each portion. I ended up getting 7 good-sized packages from the one large tray of Medium Ground Beef, but yours will differ depending on how big your hands are… and if you want to heed my dietary advice :p
The final step in prepping your meat for storage is to wrap it in sheets of paper towel. This may strike people as odd, but hear me out: How many times have you tried to prise apart frozen solid meat with a butter knife? The paper towel will prevent each piece from sticking together. Neat right? Place them in FREEZER BAGS. Can’t stress that enough! You use a sandwich bag and wonder why you always get freezer burn or a hunk of water crystals on your food? It’s because the bag wasn’t thick enough to protect it! Freezer bags aren’t much more money, and are completely multi-purpose, so stock up on all the kinds and stop being a cheap-wad. Best investment you can make in your kitchen!
Now when you’re in need of ground beef for stir fries, tacos, or stoups all you’ve got to do is bring out the appropriate number of packs per person. With just Rob and I that can range from anywhere between 1-5 depending on how much leftovers we want, but we eat much more fruits veggies and grains than meat so that factors in too.If you make your own burgers than you can use the exact same process that we just learned; just do your egg-spice-breadcrumb combo before you portion and wrap up for storage!
A Note About Meat Colour: You will probably notice that your meat (and mine if you look closely at the photos) will be a mix of different colours. This is NORMAL. I can’t tell you how many times I have been at the store with friends buying groceries (or hearing on Facebook how they will never return to suchandsuchstore) who won’t buy anything that has the slightest amount of brown on it. Most meat is tinged purple when it is freshly cut and processed (in behind the counter at the store where you don’t see). Once oxygen hits the flesh it turns bright red. This is the most desirable-looking time, as it’s shiny and inviting (and there’s a reason one of McDonald’s chief colours is red… it makes you hungry when you see it). That red is short-lived however, and really only lasts a day or so (less depending on the environment). That’s when it turns a brownish-grey. Take a look at the next tray you buy at the store and flip the meat over when you bring it home; the underside will most likely be starting to turn that ‘ugly’ colour. In all reality the colour change is a mix of factors from the aforementioned oxygen to the surrounding temperatures bringing the blood back into the cut. There is nothing that you can do to prevent the colour change; it will happen in your car, fridge, and freezer, so get over it. No biggie.