Wednesday, February 15, 2012

oh my meat

Full disclosure: this post becomes more hilarious when you realize that I used to be vegetarian, and am still not a big meat eater. On the other hand, Bunny would have half his diet be meat if you let him .... so thus, the quantity.

Sunday evening and Monday morning were largely occupied by one thing: separating, chopping, and vaccuum sealing a large haul of meats from Costco to put up in the chest freezer. This is a big part of Bunny and my grocery routine. Every three months or so, we trek up to a Costco and come home with a somewhat ridiculous amount of meat, which we then vaccuum seal for later consumption.

We came to this conclusion about a year ago, and it works a dream for us. By buying in bulk, we get good prices on better cuts of meat than we might otherwise purchase. Having a large quantity and variety of meat in our freezer makes it much easier for us to plan our menus around what's onhand. (Also, it stops me from freaking out at the grocery store on a weekly basis. This is a good thing. Somehow I also manage to not at all freak out at Costco when spending the big money.)

This trip was particularly funny, as my mom took Bunny and I on the trip. The whole time we were in the meat section I swear her eyes were bugging out of her head. Bunny's eating habits have much more of an influence on the Costco trip than mine do, and it took her awhile before moms clued in.

When we left, our freezer had about four pork roasts and a few filets of fish, and that was it. Now? We have chicken (breasts, thighs & drums), we have pork chops, we have beef in both sirloin and eye of round (and we have roasts, stewing chunks and even a few steaks). Plus, we also brought home 10lbs of carrots and 5lbs of sweet onions. And gum. And bread. And so on.

Shopping in bulk is an interesting proposition when you're only feeding two people. I mean, I brought home an eye of round longer than my arm. A whole sirloin bigger than my head. FOR TWO! This wasn't a decision we arrived at overnight - we significantly changed a lot of things in order to accomplish this.

Bulk shopping for two - or even for one - requires some extra thought and attention. Questions we asked ourselves:
  • Where will we store this? (We bought a chest freezer. Also: our dog food is all frozen, which takes most of our normal freezer space, so the freezer made sense.)
  • How will we store this? AKA - how will we manage freezer burn and packaging? (We have a vaccuum sealer. We love it.)
  • Will we eat these things that we purchase?
  • Am I comfortable buying in bulk - making large food purchases?
  • How will these foods fit into our current habits? (For us, it was the same foods with just different buying habits, and some consumption changes)
  • Do I currently shop my pantry? (We try to - bulk buying made things better in this respect)
Bunny and I have learned a lot about our eating habits through this. Examples include:
  • We eat (or want to eat) more chicken than we think. This means that we really need to buy more chicken than we plan to.
  • Roasts are our go to meal. I was surprised by this at first, but it makes sense. A roast is the easiest meal ever, just chuck it in the oven and go.
  • We never eat 10lbs of potatoes before they go bad - but sometimes it still makes sense to buy them that way.
  • We buy more pork than we actually need. Constantly. Partly because it's Bunny's favourite, and partly because it's cheaper than anything else. (Also: please note, Costco's pork chops are large enough that one feeds me AND Bunny. I mean, me eating half a pork chop isn't a shock - but Bunny? Wow.) For us, this meant we needed to start looking for other cuts of pork to buy, because we still wanted it, but were sick of roasts.
  • If Bunny had his way, meat would be on the table every day. If I had mine, it would only happen about twice a week. So: we make more meat than I like, and I simply eat smaller portions, or skip it altogether when I'm not into it. This also gives Bunny a chance to have more game meat when I'm not really in the mood.  On the other hand, Bunny has to be ok with more frequent veggie meals. I'm lucky to have a man who likes tofu.
  • Our meal plan needs to incorporate leftovers and lazy days.
    • Leftovers - because when you make a roast for 2 there are bound to be leftovers. So, fried rice, stir fries, pastas etc are all requirements for us. We plan to make too much and use the extra later.
    • Lazy meals - as ambitious as I may want to be, I know that there are days that all that gets on the table is Kraft Dinner. Or frozen pizza. And that it's ok.
  • I like using frozen meat. This was a revolutionary idea to me - I had never been a fan before. But this works with our lifestyle and kitchen style and that's the most important part. We cook in a way that's intuitive to us.

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