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I like to challenge myself to make dinner for my family of 3 for around $5 for the whole meal, that’s the meat, veggies, and a side dish like rice or noodles. If you have a larger family obviously it’s going to be a little more, maybe a more reasonable goal of $7 or $10 for the whole meal. I’m going to show you how to get 5 meals out of a Whole Pork Loin.
Deciding how to cut:
When I say meals I mean the meat for 5 meals, I start there because that is the most expensive part. I keep my eyes peeled for sales, usually, a bigger cut of meat is cheaper than individual servings that are pre-cut. This is the same for any type of meat, you can buy a whole raw chicken for less than what you would pay for a 1lb package of pre-cut chicken breasts. Don’t be afraid to buy larger cuts, you can divvy into the perfect amount for your family and there’s no waste. This is how I get 5 meals out of a whole pork loin.
I bought this whole pork loin for $17.03 it weighed 8.56 lbs, I cut it into 5 equal sections, I just estimated but you could measure it out if you wanted to. In hindsight, I probably could have cut it into 6 meals, we really only need 1lb of meat per meal for the 3 of us and by cutting it into 5 sections I ended up with over 1 1/2 lbs for each meal, I will pay more attention next time.
Cutting is the easy part: (I am explaining what I do, you take full responsibility when using a knife)
Make sure you have a sharp knife and a big enough cutting board. My Dad taught all of us kids to not be afraid of knives or to cut meat. Make sure you have very clean surfaces and utensils to start with, you want to avoid cross-contamination. Take the meat out of the package and drain any blood or juice into the sink. Pat the meat dry with some paper towels (if you have any).
In the picture, you can see the top layer of the pork loin is covered with white fat, which is called the fat cap. It is left there on purpose. You can trim a little but I wouldn’t trim it all off. Fat actually adds flavor to the meat. If you cooked that whole pork loin at once you would want to cook it with the fat side on top. As the fat melts it drips down into the meat making it juicier. It also keeps the top of the meat from drying out.
If you decide to trim fat hold the meat with one hand and cut with the other. NEVER EVER cut towards you, always cut away from you. Remember, you don’t want to trim it off completely, you lose moisture and flavor. Slice sections according to what you need for your family. The meat is easy to cut, just a smooth slice in one motion. You should not be sawing or going back and forth through the meat, that is very dangerous. If you have to do that then your knife is not sharp enough and you could hurt yourself.
Clean up very well:
Make sure you clean and sanitize very well. You never want to touch anything other than the knife and the meat with your hands until you have completely washed your hands with hot soapy water. Don’t wipe your hands on a towel and start to put things away. Make sure you have thoroughly washed your hands and sanitized anything the raw meat has touched.
Don’t use the same cutting board to cut vegetables unless you have completely sanitized it with very hot soapy water. I actually try to keep my cutting boards separate even though they get washed. I have a green one that I use for veggies only and a blue one for raw meat. To avoid cross-contamination wash all surfaces before and after thoroughly.
Separate into bags:
Each section is a separate meal, I cut one pork chop meal to have that night and another pork chop meal to freeze for another night, the three remaining pieces of pork I left as pork roasts, so I have meat for that night and 4 other meals in Ziploc freezer bags to use later on.
If you break it down it comes to $3.40 per meal, then add your veggies, I usually buy fresh broccoli, brussel sprouts or squash depends on the price but I know a pound of broccoli is $1.29 and we rarely use canned or frozen. We have a lot of rice, I buy it in the 25lb bags so for the amount that we make it’s around $ .20. Add it all up and the grand total for dinner that night comes to $4.89.
If you have a larger family you’ll just need to cut the meat portions larger so you might only get 3 or 4 meals out of it but it still ends up being a great deal.
Put the rest into the freezer
I put everything in Ziploc freezer bags and squeeze out as much air as I can so it lasts longer in the freezer. When I want to make a batch of pulled pork I just grab one of the roasts out of the freezer and leave it in the fridge a couple of days to thaw out.
It doesn’t need much seasoning, maybe some salt and pepper and a little bit of chicken stock so the outside doesn’t dry out. I mix that liquid in when I’m shredding it and then add my BBQ sauce or I add some cumin and lime juice and make pork enchiladas. Sometimes when I put the roast in the crockpot early in the morning I’m not sure what I’m going to make with it right them. When I finally figure it out later on I add my specific seasonings then.
If you want to stretch it further you can always add a can of black, or pinto beans in with the meat.
If you want to reduce the amount of plastic you are using, Amazon has reusable freezer and storage bags. Just wash after use and they can be used for something else instead of throwing another plastic bag in the garbage.
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