Wow-!! It absolutely astonishes me how much it costs for ground beef these days. I am not that much of a ground beef person and for the most part used to grind my own when needed. However, my housemate makes J. Wellington Wimpy's and the Hamburglar's addictions pale in comparison so I try to keep my eyes open for sales. I would prefer to buy beef in an entirely different manner but for this article we'll be discussing the grocery store offerings.
While scoping the sales and buying things in "family size" quantities has become the norm for many I have observed that some really don't realize any real benefit from doing so because of poor planning, storage or the inability to portion according to their specific needs. If you have to buy a three pound package in order to buy at the sale price and you only have a family of three or are single you'll want to create as many meals as possible that can be eaten over a period of time and not have to figure our how to use all of it in a week.
Here are some tips.
If it all possible shop during slow times at whatever store you're shopping at. While most will have the meat prepackaged in the case you'd be better off asking the butcher to grind some up fresh for you in a specific quantity. This will also allow you to skip some of the excess packaging. Most will just wrap it in butcher paper or simply bag it. If they will do this it will usually take them a bit of time so visit the butcher first. Do the rest of your shopping then return to pick up your order.
A kitchen scale is a wise investment and will usually help save you over the long while paying for itself rather quickly. A "must have" if you are trying to follow any type of diet. Controlling portions is key wether for dietary concerns or just figuring out and keeping track of how many meals you can make as well as what each costs. I made 38, 3/8 lb patties from 13.39 pounds of ground beef for a cost of seventy-one cents each. I could have stretched it to 53 patties if I made them 1/4 lb each for the cost of fifty-one cents each.
Plan and store as meals to make things easier for you during the week. Just because they are already made into patties doesn't mean you can'y use them for something else like tacos, meatballs, chili etc.
I will typically make meatballs, hamburg patty's and shepherds pies (in individual ramekins).
Get some wax paper squares or better yet make your own. The cost for convenience is about $6.00
- Tear off a some strips of wax paper about three and one half inches
- Cut wax paper strips into thirds
- If you plan on making burgers get some sort of patty maker. The one I use currently was only $2.00.
- Think "production" . Make a single layer of patties
- Add wax paper
- Add next layer
- Wrap/package in appropriate quantities
- Package for freezer
- Place in freezer w/ cardboard or styrofoam separators until they are frozen.
Package in such a way where you don't need to defrost or cook more than you need. If you have a family of five package them in groups of five. I typically only cook for two but will usually cook something else for myself. The patties will come apart fairly easy while they are still froze by prying them apart.
- When working with ground beef you want to avoid "packing" it. Wether you are making patties, meatballs, ,meatloaf etc, they should pressed just enough to stay together with some voids here and there to allow some of the excess fat to escape.
- Don't press your burgers while they are cooking. Flip all you want but don't press.
- If you are making thicker burgers either make a dimple in the center before cooking or use something to poke a few holes through. I prefer the hole method.
- When mixing ground beef always pull it apart and avoid mashing it together. Add all seasoning (fresh and dried) to bread crumbs, mix well by pulling apart and "tossing". When mixture is well coated add 1 well beaten egg per pound and toss till well mixed. The mixture will start to bind on its own and should only require slight pressure to form meatballs.