The popularity of Buffalo-style chicken wings in trendy bars and restaurants has proven that with a little creative cooking, economy cuts can be crowd pleasers. In these times of financial uncertainty, one of the most effective ways to reduce your grocery bill is to learn to make the most out of the least expensive types of meat. Here are a few money-saving meal ideas to try at home.
Chicken wings are the least costly form of white meat available and are naturally moist and succulent. Sauces or marinades such as barbecue, sweet and sour, hoi sin, honey-mustard, teriyaki or satay can introduce wings to a world of flavors. Dust wing sections with flour or corn starch then coat with the sauce of your choice. Arrange on an oiled baking tray and cook for 30 minutes in a 375 degree oven.
Value-priced ground beef often has a high fat content and may contain gristle. Lean ground pork is often available at the same or lower cost. It is virtually indistinguishable in dishes where the meat is simmered with herbs or spices. Try ground pork in Mexican or Italian recipes that call for ground beef such as chili, burritos, lasagne or spaghetti bolognaise
Trimmings from bacon breakfast rashers are packaged and sold as ‘ends and pieces’ or ‘cooking bacon’. They are an inexpensive way to add protein and flavor to many foods. Rather than try to separate the pieces, simply wrap the whole lump of bacon in foil and bake it in a 375 F oven for about an hour. Open the foil package, drain the liquid and chop the meat into bacon bits. Use them in dishes such as frittatas, potatoes au gratin or macaroni and cheese.
Braising steak is one of the most economical types of beef. When properly cooked it is fork-tender and melts in the mouth. For a hearty beef stew, chop the steak into bite-sized cubes. Fry in a little oil until browned. Add to a pot with beef stock, garlic, herbs and seasoning. Simmer for an hour and a half. Add chopped vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, onions and mushrooms. Simmer for another half hour. Stir in a flour and butter mixture to thicken the gravy.
People often think about sausages as a breakfast food, but they are far more versatile. Good quality sausages with a high meat content are often promoted with half price offers. Buy several packages when they are on sale and store them in the freezer. Sausages can be cooked, chopped and used as the meat component of pasta dishes, frittatas, stews and casseroles.
Smoked, cured ham hocks have traditionally been used to enhance the flavor of dishes made with lentils, beans or peas. The time it takes to prepare them is made up for in money saved over the cost of deli ham. Simmer the hock in water for three hours or overnight in a slow cooker. When it has cooled, peel off the rind and separate the meat from the bones.
A pot roast made from rolled beef brisket is a delicious low-priced alternative to roast beef made from expensive cuts. The leftovers are great for sandwiches. Add beef stock to a casserole dish along with a bottle of dark beer or a glass of red wine. Throw in roughly chopped garlic, shallots and carrots. Place the brisket in the casserole, cover and cook at 350 F for about two hours or until tender.