Sunday, January 23, 2011

Beef in Bulk

Remember that grocery store trip from a couple weeks ago that ended sourly?  Well on Saturday morning, a mere three weeks later, I finally made it to the big city and the big store.  Good thing, too.  The pantry was down to a tablespoon of oil, a cup of flour and some canned tomatoes.  Figuring out what to feed the family was challenging my creativity.

While I filled my cart with purchases from every aisle, the one section of the store I didn't purchase anything from was the meat counter.  Beef from the family farm, pork purchased from a local friend, or beloved 4H project animals stock our freezer.

And we are fortunate to have such connections to the livestock industry - especially when beef (and nearly all commodity prices) are at all-time highs.  My husband - whether out of fear of starvation or pure love of red meat - never lets our meat supply dwindle.  He closely monitors our supply as well as market prices, and always comes out money ahead.  (I married this guy for good reason.)

Beef prices have been on the rise.  Timely.  Our supply of ground beef was exhausted.  I do have a degree in economics, see?  So my forward-thinking-meat-eating husband contracted with the local butcher to buy ground beef in bulk.  He bought 80/20 and 90/10 ground beef, blended them and packaged them in neat one-pound plastic bags and stacked them in the freezer.  Isn't he a dear?  He created his own version of an (approximate) 85/15 blend for around $2.20/lb.

Know how much ground beef was selling for this weekend at that big city store?  90/10 ground beef: $4.39/lb.  80/20: $3.17/lb.  Holy cow, folks.   

Being thrifty (down-right cheap) has its advantages.  Unless I want to get some popcorn of the off-chance (once every five years) he takes me to a movie.  But I digress...


Not only do we have strong ties to beloved livestock producers, but my father-in-law has a mini-butcher shop - slash - sausage making shop at his farm.  I don't exactly know how he came about owning a commercial meat grinder and mixer or a commercial-sized sausage stuffer.  I don't even know what the technical names for these machines are.  Obviously.  I'm just thankful he knows how they work and makes sure my thrify (down-right cheap) husband doesn't cut off his fingers.


So what's the point here?  Buy your ground beef in bulk, drive three hours to your in-laws farm.  Mix and package your own beef and drive home.

Or, your could read the information posted by The Beef Checkoff here, and figure out a few ways to stretch your beef dollar.  At times like this, when you have to think twice about how to spend your grocery dollar, there is no need deprive your family of tasty, filling, nutrient rich foods like beef.

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