Friday, August 01, 2008

Maxing Out your Meat

That sounds like a Enzyte commercial, but, seriously, that's not where I'm going with this.

The price of meat is going up with the price of, well, everything. I think the price is going to increase faster than other food prices, and here's why:

Meat, even local meat, is rarely entirely local. Cows, for instance, have to be shipped from where they are born to where they are raised, then from there to where they are fattened just before slaughter, then to where they are slaughtered, then to where they are processed and packed, then to a store's distribution center, and then to the store. Whew! that's quite a run-on sentence, and it's quite a lot of traveling for an animal whose sole function is to lay quiet on your plate with a side of Yukon Gold fries.

Animals don't fit neatly in the back of a Prius, and with oil prices going up every second, it's fair to say that these intrepid world travelers are not getting any cheaper. So how do you cut your meat budget in times like these? By cutting your meat intake. And here's how:

1. Experiment with vegan meals. Even meat lovers will like some of them, so try a few out. Instead of making spaghetti without the meatballs, try checking out a vegan cookbook and trying an altogether new dish, one that won't feel like it has something missing.

2. Do the meat limbo--lower, lower, lower. In the spaghetti with meatballs example, make your meatballs slightly smaller, with slightly more fillers, and use slightly less. Go a little lower every time you try a recipe, and bump back up a step when people start complaining. You can halve your meat usage this way without your family noticing.

3. Experiment with cheaper cuts of meat. Chuck roast may not be ideal for barbecuing, but it sure makes a nice pot roast. Tougher cuts of meat are often more flavorful, and therefore better for casseroles and stews.

Meat is always tastier and greener when bought from local farmers and butchers, so call around about options other than the corner supermarket. Sometimes these sources are cheaper, too.

If you're worried about protein intake, remember that most Americans are getting two to four times the protein they need. Unless you're a strict vegan, you ought to be okay (and what strict vegan would be reading this?).


Jennifer said...

I have had to do this too... we are only able to get kosher meat when anyone comes to visit us from somewhere that is civilized or we go out of town.

One thing that works for me is using half hamburger and half beans in things like sloppy joes or tacos. Really, nobody has complained.

Love reading your blog!