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BEEF: How can we afford it for dinner?

April 28th, 2014

Part 1: How To Save on Ground Beef

hamburger dinner meals beefIt’s almost grilling season but beef prices are high. In fact, they are at an all-time high and are expected to remain high for the next year or two. Why? The number of cattle in the US is low due to high grain prices and dry weather conditions. Cattlemen are increasing their herds but it takes a long time to increase the number of cattle (a calf born in the spring of 2014 would be bred in 2015, might have a calf by 2016 and that calf couldn’t come to market until 2017).

I love grilled hamburgers, but when prices get over $3.50 a pound I start looking for ways to save. Here are 7 ideas.

1. Buy on sale. Meat usually goes on sale for a week at a time. Stock up and freeze the extra. Keep track of the deals on ground beef and only buy when the sales match your “never-pay-more-than” price.

2. Buy in bulk. If a 10# package costs $.20 less per pound you are saving $2.00 by buying the larger package (If you will take the time to package it correctly when you get home and if you have the space in the freezer to keep it).

3. Mix fresh ground turkey, ground chicken or ground pork with ground beef in equal amounts.

4. Switch to ground pork burgers, ground turkey  or chicken burgers instead of beef for your patties.

5. Add TVP (textured vegetable protein) to ground beef. Just add the dry nuggets to the raw ground meat and mix together with your hands or a spoon. Use about one part meat to one part TVP; you can adjust these amounts according to your own preferences.textured vegetable protein

You can freeze the mixture just as you would plain hamburger or ground meat. Just place meal-sized batches of the meat mixture into freezer bags or containers and freeze. Or make patties and freeze. When you’re ready to use some, just thaw the bag like you would normally.

TVP is sold in most grocery stores in a 10-12 ounce bag.  A common brand is Bob’s Red Mill, but any brand is fine.  You may have to ask someone to help you find it the first time.

6. Add  ¼ -½ cup of crushed cereal, oatmeal, small bread cubes, grated vegetables such as potatoes or carrots, minced mushrooms, cooked rice or mashed beans to the ground beef before you make the patties.  The University of Illinois has a publication called Go Further Burgers which gives more details.

7. Instead of having hamburger patties, go with sloppy joes or maidrites.  Our Sloppy Joe recipe makes enough filling for 5 generous sandwiches.   You could even get 6 servings if needed.

On May 12th I’ll be back with more ways to stretch your meat dollar.

Peggy Signature

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Beef Product Unfairly Slammed

April 2nd, 2012

I’m disappointed/dismayed/disgusted that boneless lean beef trimmings are being driven off the grocery shelves.  The result is likely to be higher priced hamburger, protein wasted that could be used for  human consumption, less innovation, several thousand people losing their jobs, and a bankrupt company.

I have read many articles and viewed many videos about the so called “pink slime.”   Here is what I found out.

  • Lean finely textured beef (LFTB) is the product unfairly nicknamed “pink slime.”  LFTB is muscle tissue that is separated from fat using a centrifuge process resulting in a product that is about 95 percent lean. The process changes the texture of the lean beef, resulting in a product similar to finely ground beef.
    • Ground or blended beef products carry a potential risk for food-borne pathogens because microbes, if present, are distributed through the product.  This makes them less likely to be killed during cooking compared with those on the surface of whole-muscle cuts. So, to make the products safer, the company uses a puff of ammonium hydroxide to kill microbes during processing.   Ammonium hydroxide is also used in a variety of other processed foods such as baked goods, gelatins, puddings, and cheeses, and it can occur naturally in foods.
  • There is no pink coloring added as the naturally occurring color comes from beef muscle tissue. LFTP appears more pink than regular ground beef because it has less fat in it.

Some people have recommended that ground beef with LFTB be labeled.  That would be fine with me.  I will be happy to pay less to buy a safe, lean product.

For more information:

Article in the Wichita falls Times Record News with a good summary
http://www.timesrecordnews.com/news/2012/mar/24/pink-slime-not-based-on-facts/

Youtube from American Meat Institute
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GDiPjmsKeh8&feature=youtu.be

Video from Texas A and M
http://www.meatmythcrushers.com/myths/myth-ordinary-household-ammonia-is-used-to-make-some-hamburgers.html

Opinion from Nancy Donley whose 6 year old son died from eating contaminated ground beef in 1993 on Food Safety News, a website produced by Marler Clark.  Marler Clark is the nation’s leading law firm with a practice dedicated to representing victims of foodborne illness.�
http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2012/03/in-defense-of-food-safety-leadership/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=120317

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