There's a lot of talk these days about Food Stamps and childhood obesity. There are those dead set against the concept of Food Stamps or any kind of assistance that helps people put a balanced meal on the table. There is also concern about the increase in childhood obesity; and heads are butting over who should do what about it.
It's easy enough to point fingers, lay blame and make assumptions about the reasons behind poverty and/or obesity, but, as with anything else in life, it's simply not a black or white situation. There is no either/or. And, as odd as it may seem, poverty and obesity often go hand in hand. Here's why.
Meat takes money. Poor people don't have it. What they do have is pasta, potatoes and beans - the most affordable and filling items in the store. You could add flour since breads, cakes, cookies and other flour based homemade items are relatively inexpensive, especially if you have chickens around to provide the eggs. The best things in a balanced diet are the items that cost the most. If you're a poor mom, you're going to want your kids to be full. What fills them and keeps them from wanting more food right away are often the very things they should have in moderation, the heaviest in carbs and calories. Whether you're on Food Stamps or paying out of pocket, you're going to try to make that money go as far as you can make it go so it will last until the next month.
People who are not abusing the assistance they receive (and, honestly, that's most of them) are not stockpiling steaks or roasts or ribs for that backyard barbecue. They're not buying beer with Food Stamps. They're buying the most for the least that will last. Until ground beef jumped in price, that was a poverty standby; the affordable meat.
But, with the recent economic crisis, some people who never thought they'd have to stretch a dollar until it screamed are doing just that. They're finding out that the "make do" of our parents and grandparents really had purpose and validity. Sure - there are some who still scoff, but they're only a paycheck away from learning it first hand. They just don't realize it.
So, how do you make your money work for you? How do you buy that meat you long for when you can no longer afford it? Creativity.
If I buy ground beef in bulk, I repackage it when I get home. I'll take three pounds of hamburger and get four packs for the freezer. Since we usually use them in meat sauce or chili or other mixed ingredient meals, we don't miss that fraction of a pound of meat in the recipe.
If you want to make a pot of chili go farther, then serve it with rice or pasta. I prefer rice.
Talk to your meat department manager. Ask him if they mark down meats near their sell-by dates. Find out when that is and be there to buy the mark-downs. Freeze the meat as soon as you get home.
We have several farmers' markets in our area that have meat departments. I know that the one marks their meats down near the end of their last day to get rid of as much as they can before closing shop for the week.
Watch your store flyers carefully for outstanding sales on roasts, steaks and chops. I use bottom round roast for making pot roast. I'll buy a couple, if I have the money, when they're on sale for under $2.00/lb.
Make more stir-fries or fajitas. That one steak can feed four people if cut into strips and added to lots of vegetables seasoned to mouth-watering precision.
Cut your own beef cubes from one of the discounted meats you bought, then make stew. Eat half of it at one meal with crusty bread, biscuits or drop dumplings and then make a meat pie with the rest. It's better in the pie!! (Or, make two pies, bake one now and freeze the other to bake another day.)
Instead of feeding everyone a chicken breast each, cut the breasts in half horizontally and flatten them to make cutlets or roll them around stuffing and top with a savory sauce such as onion soup mix combined with some orange juice and cranberry sauce. You'll feed four people with two breasts.
|Katsu, looks similar to medallions|
Eat more eggs. Yes, they're full of cholesterol, but they're not as high risk as they were once considered. Try some fritattas or quiches for dinner (another great way to use leftovers). Have breakfast for dinner. Have leftovers for breakfast (assuming you enjoyed the dinner they were from). If you can get two meals out of one, you've kept yourself from having to buy food for that second meal.
So, those are a few ideas on how to stretch the meat you bought with the money you don't have as much of anymore. If you have any ideas that I haven't mentioned, please share them in the comments area.
NOTE: I'm a day off. I owe "N", but at least "M" is on time.