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The Problem: Grocery Budget & Picky Eaters
My grocery budget is about $700 a month, and that gets really, REALLY tight. I have to be creative to make sure that everyone eats, and I try to shove something at least resembling a vegetable into their mouths every day.
One of my biggest challenges is protein. Each kid is different when it comes to the “I hates”, and I refuse to make different meals for each person. My motto – “eat it or starve.” Sorry, not sorry. We are primarily a ground beef house, with chicken and pork chops thrown in every now and then for good measure. Rarely do we eat fish (because of MY “I hates”), but I’m working on it.
Lloyd the Butcher
When I was in the eleventh grade, I met this dude named Lloyd. He was pretty cool with an uncommon affection for the Grateful Dead. Fast forward 20ish years, and today, he is a Butcher. And, aside from making fun of my knife choices, has been helpful in turning weird cuts of meat into something resembling a recipe for my family.
Every day, I feed 7 people ages 5 – 40ish… including 2 adults and a teenager, a bottomless pit 9 year old, and a 5 year old that doesn’t like anything. Add in my boys (10 & 15) every other weekend, plus company for Sunday dinner, and it can be a little absurd!
The Solution: Pork Loin
I had seen the huge pork loins at the grocery store before, but had never purchased one. They were big and awkward and very intimidating. I had no idea how to cook one; guess I thought they were just meant to be cooked like a big roast or a rack of ribs on the grill. I am clearly not a grill person.
And then… they were on sale. I had a little extra in my grocery budget, so I decided to check one out.
After a little research (read: interrogating Lloyd), I learned that the two ends of the loin are different, and are used for different things. You can get three different types of meat out of that one loin. Really!
Big tip from Lloyd, look for pork that is pink to near white in color.
I purchased an 11 pound pork loin for $16. I thought that was a great deal, and I’m sure that you can find them even cheaper. That amount, $1.45/pound, seemed pretty good to me, even if I was just going to use it for a billion pork chops.
But apparently there is more to a pork loin than pork chops! Who knew??
Big tip from Lloyd, get an 8 inch butchers knife, you won’t regret it. It makes cutting your meat so much faster, and once you spend some time mastering it, will make cutting meat a breeze.
First, divide the loin into 3 equal sections. Out of the center section, you make Yummo Pork Roasts. This meat is the best of both the lean and the fatty. It gives the best flavor when cooked low and slow. Ideal for the crock pot! My loin gave me 2 roasts, 1 a little bigger than the other so we could use if for a Sunday dinner with company.
Out of each of the outside sections, cut about 3-4 inches off the ends, this will make Pork Stew or Pork Kebob meat. Next, cut the remaining sections into chops. The fattier end is the rib eye chops, the leaner end is the center cut pork chops.
Big tip from Lloyd, make sure you date your freezer bags. After 6 months, your pork will start to lose flavor, big time!
Big tip from me… use these Ziploc bag holders by Jokari – they work so well for separating out meat, and are REALLY great for Freezer Cook Day!! Grab a 2-pack for under $10.
Big tip from Lloyd: Make sure to cook your pork to 140 degrees. You don’t want to risk a long date with the bathroom.
You can do a lot with these huge hunks of pork loin. Grab one from your grocer next time they are on sale, and try it out for yourself. Let me know how it goes for you!!
Menu Plan Monday
Monday is when I share our menu for the week. This week I went around the table and asked each person what they wanted to contribute to the menu. Each person picked one, youngest to oldest.
Monday – Pizza (no brainer for David, 5, that doesn’t like anything.)
Tuesday – Hot Dogs, mashed potatoes, corn (Jaylin, 6, who started with the sides, and only added meat when I made her!)
Wednesday – Chinese (I asked James, 9, if he wanted beef Chinese or chicken Chinese, and Daddy said “From the restaurant Chinese!” Oh well, I tried.)
Thursday – Pulled pork (with a pork loin roast from this post) is what Grayce, 11, picked. Also, broccoli stuffing.
Friday – Gloriana, 13, picked tilapia. I’ve never made it, I don’t think I’ve ever eaten it. So… here goes nothing.)
Saturday- I, 40something, picked nachos!
Sunday – My husband choose frogs legs to irk me. He added insult to injury with collards, but saved himself, and my meal, with potato salad.
If you ‘d like to share what’s on your menu board, head over to Org Junkie’s website and follow along! It’s fun… you know you want to!