How much does eating meat matter to you? If you think I’m crazy for even asking that question, then this may be the hardest part of food storage for you. If you have an extra freezer where you can store tons of extra meat, then no worries. You can fill it to the brim with 3 months of meat based on how much your family eats on a normal basis. If you don’t have one, then please keep an open mind.
Adjusting Your Meat-Eating Habits
In order to maximize use of your tiny freezer, you will need to eat half as much meat as you’re eating now. If you are particularly carnivorous, then it may even be less than that. While we lived on our food storage, my husband and I agreed to eat meat every other day. Our tiny freezer can only hold so much, so we used about 2/3 of it for meat and left the rest for fruit, veggies, and a few odds and ends like yeast and yogurt starter. My husband asked me not to tell him which meals were meatless, but he rarely commented on the lack of meat.
The best recipes to adapt to meatless are those that don’t revolve around meat in the first place. Meatless hamburgers? Not so good. A casserole that already has a grain and veggies will probably work great, though.
What kinds of meats do I store? I stick to the cheapest ones that I can find. I buy bigger packages and divide them up into little sandwich bags.
In my little freezer, I can fit all of the following:
3 lbs. of boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I use 1 chicken breast per meal.) Cost: $2/lb.
4 lbs. of beef or pork roast (1/2 lb. per meal) Cost: $2-$3/lb.
2 lbs. of tilapia (1 fillet per meal) Cost: $2.50-$3/lb.
4 lbs. chicken thighs (Use about 2 per meal, divided into smaller bags.) Cost: less than $1/lb.
1-2 lbs. sausage, ground (1/2 lb. per meal) Cost: $2-$3/lb.
12 oz. bacon (4 oz. per meal) Cost: $3/lb.
1-2 lbs. ground beef (1/2 lb. per meal) Cost: $2-$3/lb.
That means I can fit about 17 lbs. of meat in my freezer. I did the math: for 3 meals with meat a week, times 1/2 lb. per meal, times 12 weeks, you end up with 18! The math works out great, because canned meats aren’t even included in this figure.
We only store a few canned meats: clams, tuna, and sometimes salmon. If you’d like to eat more meat than I’ve specified, feel free to store more canned stuff. Just keep in mind that it’s more expensive and doesn’t taste quite as good. Canning your own is only an option if you have a pressure canner. If you don’t, don’t worry. Neither do I.
Making the Most of Stored Meats
A couple of tips for making your meats last longer and go further:
1. Use chicken bones and skins (from legs, thighs, etc.) to make homemade chicken broth. It tastes awesome compared to the powder.
2. For bacon and sausage, save the grease! (Strain it through a mesh strainer so the little bits don’t burn next time you cook with it.) It looks nasty and isn’t the most healthy for you, but it makes vegetables and sauces taste wonderful. A little bit of grease goes a long way, and if you have run out of butter, it will help add a lot of flavor.
One more note: You may have calculated a much higher number for meats on your inventory. Don’t worry about it. I left mine the way it is so I know how much meat to buy in the future . . . when we have that big freezer!