Friday, December 10, 2010

Freezing Meat

The number one killer of grocery budgets is meat. I've had many people ask me about saving money on meat so I thought I'd share about this mornings trip to Tom Thumb so you can see how to get quality meat for an inexpensive price and then package it well.

This morning I headed to Tom Thumb (off 1709 & Rufe Snow) to grab a few quick items. I always run by the meat section and check for any great deals. Almost all the meat (80%) I buy comes from Tom Thumb, the other 20% comes from Sprouts. Tom Thumb has a great meat deal this week - BIGIF (mix and match) which is 50% off all their meat! Their boneless skinless chicken comes up to $1.50 per pound which is an excellent price! I normally stock up on boneless chicken  when its 1.90 or less per pound. Sprouts also had a great deal on chicken tenders for 1.99 per pound for hormone free chicken. I also grabbed some 50% off lean ground beef, boneless ribs, T-bone steak and pork chops. I spoke with the meat man who said that the best times to visit their store for discounted meat is in the mornings before 10:00 am. Specifically he said between 9 and 11 am is best, I was there around 7:00am and he was just going through all the meat pulling off the expiring ones.

 Next, you'll need to  take that stocked up meat and freeze it well so you'll have it when you need it. It won't do any good to buy a ton of meat and then leave it in your fridge. It will expire long before you need it.

I buy Quart size freezer bags (on sale I actually got these for free), don't use the non-freezer ones because they will leak when you go to thaw out the meat. I made that mistake a lot when I first started and couldn't figure out why the bags were leaking!  Then, write on the front of your bags, the date you purchased the meat, serving size, and what the contents include. Then put in the meat, flatten it out best you can, and place in a sink with some bleach water. It will sterilize the outside of the bag that you just contaminated with your hands.
 Finally stack your bags on a flat surface, don't put them on the grate in the freezer, the sides will leak through and freeze to the bars - yep done that one too! Once they are frozen flat (deep freezers are best at a temp below 0 degrees Fahrenheit)  you can move them around in the freezer wherever you want to put them. Frozen meat should be good for 3-6 months. I've actually left some of mine as long as a year and didn't notice the difference.

When freezing meat, be sure to use the FIFO method - first in first out, that way your always using your  oldest stock first. This will  make sure you don't have to throw any meat out because of non-use.
For those who asked,  "...if freezing meat, that is a day or two  past the "best used date," is safe," I asked the meat man this morning and he confirmed that it is perfectly safe. In fact, he has a freezer full of meat that is from the day old shelf. That is the only meat he buys, he can't stand to pay full price! I also chatted with the lunch meat man and he too stocks up on the frozen lunch meat - which I have tons of in my freezer! The lunch meat is found near the egg section and has a bring red sticker for clearance (see below).

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