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A cheap alternative to ground chuck

Once again, my slow cooker has helped save money on food.

By Donna_Freedman Nov 2, 2009 1:20AM

When I was a kid, many of our meals began with a pound of ground beef because it was the cheapest meat to be had. These days, my mom would be horripilated by the price of ground round. It's costlier than steaks used to be, way back when the Earth was still cooling.

Recently I discovered an alternative -- and I'm not talking about vegetarianism. 

Acting on a friend's instructions, I wrapped a 99-cent-a-pound pork roast in foil and put it in the slow cooker overnight, on low. The next morning it was so tender I could shred it with two forks.

Some of it I mixed with barbecue sauce and ate on toasted kaiser rolls. Since the rolls were from the bread outlet and the barbecue sauce had been free because of a sale price plus coupon, this made for some awfully cheap sandwich suppers. The rest of the shredded meat went into the freezer. It may be turned into more sandwiches but it might also flavor a couple of batches of chili. (Tip: Making your chili with dried beans instead of canned is cheaper plus it lets you control the sodium content.)

Prefer beef to pork? Watch for loss-leader cuts of cow and ask your store butcher to grind them. Personal finance author Mary Hunt, who also writes the Money Rules, Debt Stinks! blog, used $1.47-a-pound London broil into ground beef this way. Don't forget to look in the "manager's special" bin -- which the same friend calls the "used meat" section -- for marked-down meats to go into the chopper. Just be sure to use or freeze the grind promptly.

Incidentally, I've got nothing against vegetarians. My sister is one. I'm just a happy omnivore. 

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Published March 10, 2009
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