Butchering Skills to the Rescue!

Another Hatchett Job blog, Creative Commons Attribution, piggy bank, money, savings, frugal life, frugal living, saving moneyI love a good deal, but I try to be really careful to make sure that I don’t purchase things that aren’t really going to be useful. If we don’t use it or like it, then it’s wasted money, no matter what.

Being totally unfamiliar with most butchering skills, hubby has taught me a few things (actually a whole bunch) that has helped me to see good meat deals in a new light.

Did you know that Center Cut Pork Chops (you know, the pretty ones that sit on the top of the family package of mixed chops, hiding the ones with the bone in them) are just slices made from the Pork Loin? Okay, you likely did, but I didn’t know that for a long time. Occasionally, we would be at the grocery store and the hubby would find a big hunk of meat at a really good price and bring it home and chunk it up into useable sized pieces. I still didn’t have the “vision” to see what could be made from what was available until he explained (I’m a bit slow :-)) that when he cut 1 inch slices off of a pork loin, that he was making Center Cut Chops without paying the butcher extra. Our time slicing and packaging meant that we didn’t pay as much for our chops!

This week, one local store that we go to occasionally (it is a warehouse that sells things that are close to their expiration date, but the meats are always fresh) had a really good price on whole pork loins. I mean REALLY good for our area. So, I picked up two (warning hubby that he was playing butcher that evening) and stashed them in the fridge.

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Pork loin becomes bargain priced center cut chops!

Hubby was nearly floored when he saw the size of them. I neglected to mention the word, “whole,” apparently. So, he cut one into two really big pork loins for company meals and half of one into generous 1 inch chops for our family of 6 adult appetites to eat on twice. The remaining portion will be cooked as a pork loin and sliced thin for biscuits–lots of biscuits.

If I can luck up and find another one or two at that price in a couple of weeks, hubby and I will dice it for me to pressure can for quick meals for busy, Winter days.

By my estimation, our work in the kitchen saved us around a dollar a pound over the best price for center cut chops that I have found in our local area.

Not too shabby if I do say so myself!

What is your best kitchen money saving tip? Share in the comments!

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett


Pale Pickled Beets

Another Hatchett Job, photo by Eddie Hatchett, beets, peppermint beets, pickled beets, frugal life, frugal recipe, canning
Colorful “peppermint” beets in the pan awaiting pickling.

Mom, Dad, and I love pickled beets. Hubby will eat some. I don’t even mention them to the boys. Sigh.

I grew up eating these sweet and tangy beets straight from the canning jar! They always seemed like a treat with any home cooked meal.

The kind we enjoy are somewhat similar to a “Harvard Beet” with a thinner sauce. They can be canned and kept on hand for years, ready to eat. That makes them a great candidate for finding at a great deal and putting up enough for several meals at a time.

A local warehouse store in the closest town to us occasionally has foods that were cleaned and packaged for restaurant use, but not sold quickly. With this, I was able to score three big bags of cleaned and chopped, fresh beets, ready for pickling for, get this, 49 cents per bag. Each bag held over one gallon of beets with no cleaning, peeling or chopping needed. It was a pickler’s paradise!

Even better, these were “peppermint” beets and simply looked like little chunks of peppermints in the bag. Okay, it’s silly, but I think they are totally cute that way! They taste like regular beets, but inside the beet root is made of rings of red and white flesh. If you cut them horizontally, they look like a bullseye. When you chunk them up, they look

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Trusty pressure canner.

like candies.

The process is totally simple. I simmered two bags of beets on the stove, just covered with water until just barely tender. Then, I drained the water off and returned them to the pan with enough brine to cover. The brine is a ration of 2:1:1 of apple cider vinegar, sugar, and plain water. So, I added 4 cups of apple cider vinegar, 2 cups of sugar, and 2 cups of water twice to make sure I had enough to cover generously.

Once brought to a simmer for 5 minutes, carefully ladle into hot, prepared canning jars (prepare them by adding 1 cinnamon stick broken in half, a pinch of cloves, and 2-3 whole allspice berries), make sure you have 1 inch head space remaining in your jars. Clean the lids with a clean towel dipped in hot water and rung out. Add lids and place in pressure canner for 30 minutes for pints at 10 pounds of pressure. Remember to check your altitude to know if you need to adjust times and pressures for altitudes over 1,000 feet. It’s important.

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Pickled and tasty, but without the characteristic red color.

Sadly, our beets lost most of their lovely pink stripes in processing. They look like pickled golden beets, but will taste just as delicious as their redder cousins. They will sit for at least 4 weeks to let flavors come together before we open up a jar.

If I can continue to get them at this price, I will keep on canning them up. Home canned foods make lovely gifts and if I preserve enough, I won’t have to purchase full price beets for a couple of years. It’s a total (and tasty) win-win for me!

Do you enjoy preserving foods?  Share your favorite recipes with us!

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

Surviving the Economy

Another Hatchett Job blog, Creative Commons Attribution, savings ahead, road signs, warning signs, saving money, frugal life, frugal livingThis post could realistically be subtitled, Why Bananas Matter.

Lately, I am reading other blogs and they have various posts about strategies to help deal with rising prices in a world where incomes don’t seem to be rising much, if at all.  I read these posts hoping to learn a little something more to stretch our income.  That left me wondering why so many folks seem to worry about the big things, but think nothing of bananas.

You may wonder how bananas would matter in the over economic scheme of things for a family that is not involved in banana farming.  Fair question.

If my family is going to enjoy bananas (which have pretty much doubled in price over the last year where we live) and keep on having money for other necessary items, we have to watch the details.  Like the bananas!

So what is my big money saving tip for bananas?  Buy the bags of really bad looking bananas.  Yes, the yucky looking ones with spots and such that are about half price.  Bring them home and let anyone eat fresh those that aren’t really too bad and then peel the remainder and put about 3 whole bananas in a labeled freezer bag, squish the extra air out, and put in the freezer.  Those bags are like gold when my family wants some banana bread!  We make lots of fruit breads, but banana is a regular.  And those bags with 3 bananas in them will thaw out to a more or less mushy consistency, like we need for a recipe of banana bread and in just the right quantity.Another Hatchett Job blog, creative commons attribution, bananas, healthy food, bananas with spots

Now, this winter when we want banana bread, we won’t waste a fresh banana for baking when what we are making doesn’t need that nice, firm texture.  It’s a win-win situation and we save money.  The peels also go into the compost heap for eventual use in the garden.  Lately, younger son, DS 15, has been using frozen fruit (his favorite is bananas) to make yogurt smoothies.

Then, by making our own banana bread or muffins, we save even more money by putting in the effort to cook it at home than purchase it in a store.  Plus, ours tastes better and we know what is in it (no Frankenfoods!).

See, the pennies take care of themselves when we do this (okay, actually quarters in savings this time).  By taking care of the pennies, the dollars will follow.  There are far more little things to cut back on than big items, so it makes sense to do both.  We watch for good deals on insurance, etc. and we drive older, paid for cars.  And, we freeze bananas.  And shredded zucchini.  And carrots if we have an abundance.  It’s good food for our tummies, good for us (okay, too much sugar, but other than that), and it sneaks veggies and fruits into our oldest son, (who has major texture issues) which is a fantastic thing!

How is your family saving money?

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett