Times have been a wee bit tough at the old Pic-Dem homestead lately. Portland’s economy is as un-booming as anywhere else’s–paying gigs are few and far between. And Jim’s getting up to speed (and beyond!) at his day (er, night) job now, but we’re coming off a series of darn lean months here.
So in the never-ending quest to save money while eating well and frequently, we’ve discovered the joys of the Used Meat counter. This is the out-of-the-way corner of the butcher section where the supermarket stashes all the meat that is a day or two before its sell-by date. This is where, last week, I picked up a pound of ground pork for 97 cents and two pounds of top sirloin steak for $4.05. We bring it home, rewrap it and freeze it… or, if we’ll be using it in the next few days, we just leave it in the fridge as-is.
We’ve also been saving even the wee-est scraps of leftovers to eat later. The very useful Love Food Hate Waste offers all kinds of ways to re-use leftovers: check it out! For lunch today, we’re having “cafeteria day”: the random bits of zucchini-rice gratin, baked spaghetti and chicken with chile-cream sauce that need to get eaten up so we can have our refrigerator (and our plasticware) back.
Last night, I used our bargain ground pork with some leftover cooked rice and the tail end of our rolled oats and seasoned breadcrumbs to make a meatloaf Jim thought was the best he’d had in ages:
Odds & Ends Meatloaf
Combine in a large bowl:
3/4 c any combination of cooked rice, dried or fine fresh breadcrumbs, rolled oats–the lower the proportion of rice to other starches, the firmer the meatloaf will be
1 Tbsp ketchup
1 Tbsp mustard
1 tomato, seeded and chopped small: this is a great place to use a tomato that’s gone almost too soft to eat
1 small carrot or zucchini, grated (optional)
1/2 medium onion, chopped small
Seasonings: I like dried oregano, minced garlic and a pinch of red pepper flakes; but you can use whatever you like
Salt and pepper
Crumble over and mix well with hands:
1 pound ground meat: I used pork; you can use whatever
On a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray, form into four to six individual loaves, depending on how hungry you are and how much other stuff you’ll have with the meal. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
Brush loaves with a mixture of:
2 Tbsp ketchup
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp brown sugar
Return to the oven and bake for 15 more minutes. Yum yum, especially with mashed potatoes and steamed petite peas, which is how we had it.
Also: it was once again chicken-cooking day today. (Crap! I swear I blogged about this before, but I can’t find the post. Anyway, chicken-cooking day involves cooking chicken all day in the Crock-Pot, then dicing it up and dividing it into 2-cup portions for future use in such things as chicken salad, chicken casseroles or (my personal favorite) just kind of eating it out of the refrigerator, ’cause it really comes out delicious.) I timed myself this time. It took less than 6 minutes 26 seconds (the length of the podcast I was listening to) to get out the Crock-Pot, slice the onion, mix the seasonings, put the chicken in the pot and toss it all together, wash the cutting board/knife/countertops and get the dishwasher started. Holla!
Update: I found the original chicken-cooking day post. Yay me.