3/18/05 | Freeze Your Meat
[ Currently Eating: Chili Beans ]
A quick tip to increase your “nonspoilability” Cheap Eats score. Buy meat in bulk and freeze it. What? Frozen meat, you say? Didn’t they tell us on the Food Network about freezer burn and all that other stuff? Sure. But that’s if you forget and freeze it for say 2 years. That definitely won’t contribute to Cheap Eats.
In order to get the benefits of buying bulk meat, you need to keep track of which meat in the freezer has been bought when. They sell ziploc bags with a little white space on the front of them for writing on it. Keep a permanent marker in the kitchen and use it when freezing food. Write down the date and also what’s in it. That’ll go a long way when you’re doing freezer inventory to see what needs to be thrown out.
As far as storage goes, it depends on what you’re freezing but I tend to go with a double wrap technique. This has the advantage not only of preventing burn but also of allowing you to separate your bulk meat into usable portions. That way, in order to use a bit of pork shoulder, you don’t have to defrost the entire darn thing. This works best for cuts of meat that you’re going to cut up anyway, like for stew… obviously you can’t divide up a steak you’re going to eat as a whole steak. Note: for chicken pieces, they often sell those pre-flash frozen bags at Costco. This is pretty much the same philosophy but is sometimes more expensive.
So, say you’re doing a cut of stew beef. When you get home from the store, cut it up into pieces that are suitable for one time uses. Wrap each piece INDIVIDUALLY in Plastic Wrap. Then taken the wrapped pieces of meat and put them in a ziploc bag that has been labeled with your permanent marker. That’s it! When you need to use a piece, just take out one piece and remove the plastic wrap. Put it in the microwave on defrost and you’re good to go.
One of my favorite things to do is buy a whole slew of fresh Italian Sausage in bulk (often a 32 pack) and then freeze them in little lots of 2 or 3 sausages each. When you get the urge for sausages, you can just defrost a few for yourself.