Category Archives: saving money

Using Expensive Meat: Conclusions

So far we’ve had 15 portions using the expensive pork roast I bought. (See this post.) That brings the price down to $1.86 per portion. Surprise!

What I still have in the freezer: 1 slab which could be turned into stir fry, soup, or two pork chops, and a small container of carnitas. At a minimum, there’s probably still 4 portions remaining. If I figure 19 portions from this pork roast, it’s $1.47 each.

Just wow.

I had no idea I could do that. I’ve been watching it go, but I’ve used the meat as I cut it: about 1/2-1/3 for the roast (which became the carnitas), 3 slabs, and one small piece off the end. The small piece was turned into soup. That left the 3 slabs. We’ve eaten 2.

I admit it probably wouldn’t work this way in a bigger family, or perhaps with other cuts of meat. I started with a boneless hunk of pork loin. Very little waste, especially since I’ve used the small amount of fat that came with it to cook something every time we’ve eaten the pork. But I haven’t skimped or deliberately stretched it, I’ve just used it as convenient.

I also admit we’ve been eating it pretty steadily, because I knew I had this chunk of beautiful stuff in the freezer. . . My plan is to use meat for dinner 2x a week, which would have been 6 meals or 12 portions.

We also ate it for lunch: 5 6 portions worth. We tend to eat smaller lunches than dinners, so it went further that it might have otherwise.

My conclusion? It’s possible to get to my target price with expensive meat, if you have minimal waste in the original, large piece of meat AND if you use any leftovers for lunches. Otherwise? I’d have made 10 meals, at $2.79 per portion, over the $2 per portion price I wanted.

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Searching for More Ideas to Waste Less

well, I did … and didn’t!

I have a favorite resource: Waste Less, Save Money! 2018, it’s a Meredith Special publication. Because of the times and the title’s date, I was hoping they’d done a 2019 issue. If they did, I can’t find it. I did find some other publications which are new to me, but since I only have titles, I can’t say whether they’ll be good resources, or not.

I use my original publication (pictured below) a lot. Our fave roasted veggie recipe, Garlicy Roasted Vegetables, is there. As are recipes for herb vinegarette , veggie stock, chicken stock, etc. I had many recipes for those things before but they were scattered through a range of books, notes, and printouts. It’s handy having them in one place.

Here’s the Table of Contents:

      • Food Waste Strategies
      • Swap This for That
      • Crop Wrangler (in-season veggies)
      • Rethink your Beans!
      • What to do with Cheese
      • Saving Scraps & Seconds
      • What to do with Herbs
      • See & Toss Salads
      • Use it Up!
      • One-Pan Dinners
      • What to do with Crackers
      • You Choose! Skillet Suppers
      • Meat Smarts
      • Max out your Freezer!
      • Tasty Freezer Stashes
      • What to do with Bananas
      • Baker’s Pantry
      • Everyday Bakes
      • Scrappy Dog Treats
      • Use-It-Up Ingredients Index
      • Recipe Index
      • Superstar Vinegar

One thing I love about this publication is the changeable/zipper recipes, for example, skillet suppers. It’s a stir fry, you pick 1) A denser vegetable, 2) A less-dense vegetable, 3) A sauce, 4) A topper, and 5) A splash-on.

I almost always have a combination of the listed veggies. Right now: sweet potatoes and celery from #1, asparagus and bell pepper from #2, I’d have to make their citrus sauce:  OJ, marmalade, soy sauce, and grated ginger. Also chopped almonds (I’d have to toast them) from #4, and soy sauce or sriracha from #5 (I’d put them on the table).

Given the oriental feel of this, I’d probably cook rice to go with. Add leafy green salad and jarred salad? There’s dinner!

So I just constructed our dinner menu, took what 5 minutes? Oriental veggies skillet, rice, green salad, jarred salad.

To do: prep veggies, cook pot of rice, make citrus sauce, and toast almonds. Since it’s about 7:40 a.m. as I type this, that should be easy.


You can see why this is one of my favorite cookbooks! I don’t need to buy anything, make substitutions or replacements, I can look at a recipe and use what I already have. I wish they’d do another volume! Yes, it was a $9.99 “magazine,” but in the 2 years I’ve had it, it has saved us how much? Likely more than its original cost.


Many years ago, when Marie Callender’s was only a SoCal restaurant, and fairly new, they had a steamed veggie plate we both loved. It was a highlight of getting to the big city and not cheap for college students like us. DH loved it. He thinks the roasted veggie recipe from this publication is better. Whether that’s genuine, flattery or a faulty memory, as it was long ago?

I’ll take it! 

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The roasted veggie recipe is denser veggies (potatoes, carrots, or parsnips*) onion, oil, acid (lemon juice or vinegar), garlic, salt, pepper, and softer veg (zucchini, summer squash, peppers, grape tomatoes, etc.) . There’s a note about adding fresh herbs, either woodier ones (thyme, rosemary, sage, etc.) or tender ones (parsley, basil, cilantro, etc.)  I have enough of any of that to make up a pan of this most of the time. Right now: potatoes, carrots, lemon, onion, garlic, peppers, sage or dill and parsley. (I’d probably make it with dill and parsley, as those are fresh AND fragile — the sage is struggling along in the garden, and will keep.)

*I usually add celery.

If you can find a copy of this, I absolutely recommend it!

J