Freezing meat is a great way to make your budget stretch further. Choose economical cuts and plan ahead so that you can make several meals from each one.
Choosing meat for the freezer
Some supermarkets now stock bulk packs of cheap meat joints and fish, designed for the freezer. Often the cuts are individually wrapped, making it easy for you to use a little at a time. The prices on these tend to be cheaper than buying joints separately – check the ‘per kg’ price to find out. But you can freeze your own meat if you plan carefully. Choose cheap meat, such as silverside, brisket, and lamb shoulder. Cut the joints up yourself – cut up lamb shoulder for a stew, and reserve the bone to make stock, which you can also freeze – for greater convenience.
Freezing meat: Chicken
Chicken thighs, wings and legs are more economical in big packs. Alternatively, learn to cut up a whole chicken – you’ll pay less per kilogram, and get a good assortment of cuts for several meals. Although chicken pieces can be frozen as they are, it’s a good idea to keep some cooked chicken in the freezer too. Roast your chicken joints as usual and when cool, shred the meat (reserving the bones for stock). Split it into small portions, then label, cool, and freeze. That way it’s ready to be defrosted fast and put into chicken pie (just add mushrooms and béchamel) or chicken fajitas (or quesadillas – below).
Fast Chicken Quesadillas
Quesadillas are great for quick meals, and they’re simple enough for teenagers to fill and cook by themselves. All you need is a bag of sweetcorn and a packet of tortilla wraps in the freezer, plus a jar of salsa in the cupboard, and you’ve got the basic ingredients for this Mexican quickie.
For one Quesadilla:
- 1 Tortilla Wrap, defrosted
- 1 tbsp sweetcorn (frozen OK)
- 1 tbsp shredded chicken
- 1 tbsp salsa sauce
- 2 tbsp grated cheddar
- Optional: Black or pinto beans (from a tin), chopped coriander, grated Gruyere, chopped chillies, sour cream
Brush a Tortilla wrap with oil and lay it in a preheated frying pan. Sprinkle on the shredded chicken, sweetcorn, and cheddar (plus any extras that you fancy). Dollop on the salsa sauce. Cook over a medium heat for about 10 minutes, until the tortilla is golden underneath, then flip and continue to cook until it’s golden on both sides. Cut into quarters and cool slightly before eating.
Other Cheap Meat to Try
There are some extremely good online meat retailers where you can buy packs of cheap meat to freeze – look out for their ‘Specials’. Some cuts to try are pork belly, beef skirt, and lamb shoulder. Look for anything that sounds different (or unappealing!). For example, beef rib trim is a butcher’s secret: fatty and unctuous in a stew. Lamb shanks can be good value and although they take a long time to cook, they will be deliciously tender.