March 14, 2008

A Big Roast for Sunday Dinner, But Which Cut to Buy?

If you want to save money on groceries, not only should you consider serving smaller portions, but you may want to try some different cuts, perhaps cooked in ways new to you. If I say "oven roast," which cut comes to your mind first? Round tip? Maybe ribeye? If I say "pot roast," what cuts do you think of? Bottom round? Boneless huck?

Have you ever tried flank steak? Brisket? Shank cuts? Bone-in chuck? The cuts of beef that will save money are most often those you braise, or otherwise slow-cook with moisture, such as stew beef. And the same applies when it comes to meats other than beef. Chicken legs and thighs are cheaper but really need to be slow-cooked, as does a daisy ham or smoked shoulder. Today's meats have been bred to be more tender, and some of the less expensive cuts can be marinated and then dry-cooked, BUT when you slow cook, you also get a rich, delicious broth.

And then there are other alternatives to the meat counter, things such as canned salmon, tuna, clams, even some of the canned corned beef is a good buy for making a hearty hash...tasty recipe in The Frugal Family Kitchen Book!

There's no doubt that if meat has been taking a big chunk out of your grocery dollar, you'll have to do some real re-thinking about how to best buy protein and iron, how much meat you serve, what kinds of meat you buy, and what alternatives would still give your family the good nutrition they need.

Of course, you can't just make huge changes in your meals all at once or all by yourself, or you'll probably have a family rebellion at the supper table. Talk with the people you feed...they need to be part of what needs to change, and they may have some great suggestions!

And then, again, maybe I'm just a crazy optimist!

See you next time,