29 July 2019

Happiness Homemade 26th April 2018

Last weekend Australian Butcher Store had regular mince for $3.99/kg. Now this is the cheapest it has been for years, so of course I thought about it, checked the slush fund and the meat fund and toodled off armed with cooler bags, Hannah and Thomas (they do the heavy lifting for me ). Twenty minutes and $109 later we left with beef ribs, mince and chicken filets (they were down to $5.99/kg), enough meat to make 58 meals. That brings them down to well under my $5 per meal meat price, averaging just $1.87 per meal.

Now, before you cringe and think we're not eating enough meat, you need to know what meals I made with what I had, and understand how the meat component was stretched for each meal. Protein comes from the meat (obviously) but also from the ingredients used as "stretchers".

I made pasta sauce, taco sauce, hamburgers, porcupines and meatballs from the mince.

I made pie filling, enchilada filling, chicken schnitzels, apricot chicken, satay chicken and curried chicken.

Adding extra veggies, baked beans, black beans, oats, rice or TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein - from health food stores), depending on what I made, stretched the recipes, giving extra meals.

The ribs were given a dry rub and put into the fridge overnight, then on Monday morning they went into the slow cooker with barbecue sauce and cooked on low for nine hours (it was meant to be eight hours, but I was busy!). They went under the grill for a few minutes to caramelise the sauce, then into the fridge to cool. I packed and sealed them on Tuesday morning, before putting them into the freezer.

Annabel over at The Bluebirds are Nesting wrote earlier this year about using our "handmaidens" to their full potential. Well, on Sunday afternoon my handmaidens, or rather my pressure cooker, slow cooker, food processer, vacuum sealer and electric frying pan all had a good workout.

Everyone pitched in with peeling veggies, chopping chicken, making bags for the vacuum sealer and cleaning up, so all the cooking was done in just a couple of hours. Making use of the appliances in the kitchen, getting all these meals prepared was a breeze. Some of these appliances may not be used every week, but they are used regularly and turn big jobs into manageable tasks.

Cleaning up was a breeze; I make it a habit to clean as I go, so the sink is always full of hot soapy water for washing up, bread boards, knives and benches are cleaned between each step, rubbish is taken out as soon as the bin is full (rubbish to the bin, veggie peelings etc. to the compost). This means that as soon as the last bag goes into the freezer, the cooking session is over and I can relax, no messy kitchen to clean up.

Everything was portioned into meal sizes, including meals for just two and three for while we're away, and then neatly stacked in the freezers.

Bulk cooking is a fabulous way to fill the freezer with ready-made meals so you don't need to cook every night. You don’t need to have a marathon cooking session like I did on Sunday, simply double whatever you're cooking tonight and put half in the freezer for later. Do this every night this week and you have seven ready-to-eat dinners in the freezer. Do it for a month and you can skip a month of cooking!

All you need to prepare are the sides - veggies or salad, and these can be done while the meal is heating. Dinner can be done in under 30 minutes - who needs take-away when it's this easy to eat homemade?

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