One good way to feed the pig is to lower the amount of money you spend on food. And the best way to save money on food is to cook more at home and eat out less.
You can save even more money by buying food when it’s on sale. While I won’t get into the details on how much you can save every week by buying on sale, I will give you an example of my own.
First off, my new favorite place to find recipes that can be made inexpensively is online at www.grocerybudget101.com. The site is run by a family of four, and every Monday they post a meal plan for the week and detail how much they spent on groceries for the plan — usually less than $50 a week (yes, it seems crazy, but they eat well every week for less than $50).
Surfing the site while doing my own meal planning, I found a recipe for copycat Jimmy Dean breakfast sausage. Now this took me a little by surprise. I always figured that making sausage was a complicated endeavor, but was I wrong. All you need are spices and ground pork, and you have delicious breakfast sausage on the cheap, and without all the preservatives and other chemicals found in store-bought brands.
While you can buy plain ground pork in the grocery store just like you can get ground beef, it’s usually a better deal to buy a pork butt and grind it yourself. If you don’t have a meat grinder, most grocery store butchers will grind it for you on request for free.
Pork butt went on sale a couple weeks ago for $1.29 per pound, so I grabbed two 7 pounders. Now 7 pounds of meat is way too much for my family of four, so I stretched it into several breakfasts and two dinners. (It would have been three dinners, but I dropped the Tupperware of leftover Brunswick stew on the kitchen floor while I cleaning up after dinner No. 2.) But that many meals for less than $10 is still a great deal.
The first thing I did was cut off a chunk of the pork butt, which amounted to about 2 pounds of meat. Then I cut that into cubes and fed it through the meat grinder attachment on my KitchenAid mixer, which gave me the ground pork I needed to make sausage. My husband took the remainder of the meat and smoked it on the grill, part of which we ate for dinner and the rest was chopped and saved to make the aforementioned Brunswick stew.
The price comparison? A pound of sausage at the grocery store is about $3.99. I made two pounds for $2.58 (not counting the spices, all of which I already had in my pantry) — double the meat for little more than half the price. Time to feed the pig!
2 pounds ground pork (or ground turkey for a healthier version)
2 teaspoons salt (or to taste)
½ teaspoon garlic
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 ½ teaspoons ground sage
½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
½ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
½ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon oregano
Mix meat and spices. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Form meat into patties (I made 14 large patties out of 2 pounds) and place on cookie sheet. When the cookie sheet is filled, place another piece of parchment paper on top of the patties and continue layering until all the patties are used. Top all the layers with another sheet of parchment paper and place in the freezer. When frozen solid, transfer patties to an airtight container or freezer bag. To use, just pull out patties as you need them.
You can use the sausage immediately after mixing, but it tastes best if you let the flavors meld for at least 24 hours.
— adapted from www.grocerybudget101.com
Features Editor Deirdre Long: 256-294-4152. On Twitter @star_features.