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Fighting Inflation Part I – Home Butchering Grocery Store Deals

It shouldn’t be news to anyone that prices are on the rise. With inflation at a thirty year high, everything is going up in price, while wages lag behind. Simply put, our dollars buy us less and less day to day. One of the worst hits to our wallets comes from the grocery bill. Of course, we can’t reaally stop buying food now can we? Of course not, and cutting back on the amount of food we buy really isn’t much of an option either.

We can however, take advantage of weekly specials. If food costs rising due to inflation is the concern and full on grid down scenarios aren’t in the cards, buying a home freezer can help out a lot! Of the food itemsin my freezer that were purchased from the grocery stores, I doubt there is one single item that I paid full price for. Buying only what is on special can reduce your grocery bill in a big way. Once a varied stockpile of foods has been put up into the freezer, you will find that weekly specials become your friend. With that variety in the freezer, you can devote your budget to bulk buying one or two itemsfrom the sales flyers and maximize your food budget.

The best specials come from the bigger family packs, especially talking about meat. Most times however, these family packs contain way more than one would use for a meal and need to be broken down into smaller packs for freezing. That’s pretty simple for afamily pack of ground beef as anexample, but what about larger cuts of meat? A lot of folks would likely pass up a deal because who cooks an entire pork loin for dinner? Here’s two great deals I found this week while shoppingand how we dealt with them.

The first deal was chicken legs(with back on) for one dollar per pound in family packs. While you may think that just dividing them into meal sized packs and throwing them into the freezer would do the trick, there is so much more that can be done. Here we can see that we broke the legs down into drumsticks, thighs, backs, and scrap skin. Remember that scrap skin thing for the end. Even I was surprised what could be done with it!

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Out of 14 leg swe ended up with 14 drums, 14 thighs, 14 backs, and a small saucepan of skin scraps. For a family of 4, we made 3 packs of 8 chicken pieces for fried chicken (due to the price of cooking oil we now bake our fried chicken). There were 4 thighs left over from that which willbe used for other meals such as chicken pot pie or something similar. The backs made 2 packs of 7 whick we will use for broth and then pick clean for a delicious chicken fried rice dish. The skin scraps we put up to simmer in a little water for a few hours. I’m told by the missus that a sort of chicken lard canbe made this way, but I’m skeptical. More on that later.

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All done, we spent $13.65 for the 14 legs and got 3 meals of fried chicken, 1 meal of pot pie, 2 meals of broth/chicken fried rice. That worked out to a little under $2.30 per meal.

The second deal we found was pork loins selling at $2.00 per pound. Pork loins are quite large and are not convenient to use for a typical family of 4 such as mine. Let’s break them down to useable sizes. Since summer is on the way, we kept the BBQ in mind as outdoor cooking is our preferred method during hot summer weather. The two loins cost us a total of $23.24.

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Breaking down these loins was a bit more involved than with the chicken legs. The first order ofbusiness is separating the fatty meat from the lean to make chops from the cleaner, leaner side of the loin while the fatty side is kept for our annual saussage making weekend. This time, one of the fattysidesofthe lointurnedoutto belean enough to roll, tie, and use as a pork roast, or maybe some pulled pork. Extras that won’t make a full sizedd chop are cut into cubes for brochettes. There’s that BBQ consideration again!

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Here is the finished product ready to pack up and finally all packed forthe freezer. By the way, those are about 1″ chops!

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So, from those 2 loins we made 2 packs of cubes for brochettes, 4 packs of pork chops, and enough saussage meat for at least 4 more meals. We calculate that to be just over $2.30 per meal. With most veggies coming from the garden at almost no cost and starches such as rice, or pasta still being cheap enough, I figure we are at the $3.00 per meal range, and that’s for a family of 4.

Even after all that I’m going to sound like an infomercial here and say “but wait, there’s more!”. Remeber that little saucepan of left over fatty chicken skin? Seriously, I didn’t think it would work out to anything resembling a lard. Boy was I wrong. The more those skin scraps simmered, the more fat we were able to strain out. Once cooled, the oily goop solidified into a lard.

Lesson learned here? Don’t doubt a woman with an Eastern European heritage. I will say this here and now. She was right and I was wrong. There you go DW…you finally got it in writting! Not satisfied with that, DW then put the simmered down chicken skins on a baking sheet and put them under the broiler for a few minutes to crisp up. Huh…instant doggie treats! I seriously think she was just showing off at this point.

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With the panic buying due to Covid over and done with, chest freezers are back to being available on the market. By purchasing ONLY what is on sale, and buthering down larger meat cuts, within a month you could have a varied supply of meat and never pay full price at the grocery store again.

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