Disclaimer: I’ve been canning for several years now but have never ventured into canning meat, so I won’t be talking about that here.
When the homestead husband and I fell on hard times several years ago after we each lost our jobs, we decided that one way for us to save money was at the grocery store. My husband has always been a frugal man. He refuses to pay full price for anything (remind me to one day tell you the story of when he bought my dad’s Harley-Davidson or when he haggled with the guy at Electronics Boutique over a steering wheel to be used for video games). It has taken several years, but I now have the same philosophy when grocery shopping and have become pretty adept at comparing prices to get the best deal on what we need, which often involves buying in bulk.
When we first started scaling back, we invested in a FoodSaver. It has been one of the best investments we have ever made. We got a great deal at Costco, which is one of our favorite places to shop (and eat lunch). Another wonderful investment was made back when I was trying different diets. It is just a little scale with a bucket to place things in for weighing. These have proven to be incredible money savers.
Here is what we do: when we purchase meat, we come home and get out the scale and the FoodSaver. Since our youngest is now 19, he is rarely home, so we usually only cook for two. Here is what we do:
Ground meat (beef, turkey, etc): measure 2/3 lb. and place in FoodSaver bag, mashing as flat as possible (this makes for quicker thawing) before sealing
Chicken breasts: place one breast in FoodSaver bag and seal (trust me, one decent-sized chicken breast is plenty for two people when you add veggies and side dishes)
Pork chops: We buy the large pork loins and slice one end to save as a roast, and the rest become chops. Place 3 chops in a FoodSaver bag and seal.
Salmon: we tend to slice a large salmon filet into thirds and seal with the FoodSaver
Tilapia (or similar fish): Place three or four (depending on how many are in the package) into a FoodSaver bag and seal.
It is not unusual for us to spend $200 at Costco, but this provides us with at least 60 days worth of meals. When we first started out, we were putting two chicken breasts in a bag and 3/4 lb of ground meats in a bag. We decided to try scaling back to 2/3 lb and we still end up with leftovers.
Here’s a pic of earlier this year:
* If you choose to try this, be prepared to spend approximately two hours dividing and sealing the meat. We are currently looking into purchasing half a cow. I’m trying not to think about the time it will take to repackage all that meat!