There are several ways to prepare meat for freezing. I have found that buying meat in bulk and on sale are the best ways to save money. Last week, Winn-Dixie had some great BOGOF offers on both chicken breasts and steak. Steak- you may ask. Yes, we do buy steak at this house.
I do a lot of things with steak- including stews, fajitas, stir-fry, and grinding for burgers. That's what they do with the meat you buy already ground. DUH! you may think, I already knew that! What you probably don't know- is what part of the cow they are using in your ground beef. If you grind it at home- you ALWAYS know. The other benefit is being able to control the fat content of the meat a lot better. If you want lean meat- you can always cut off the fat and/or buy the leanest cuts.
Let me put my soap box away for the moment. Back to the fun stuff. I find it's easier on grocery day to prepare all of the meat and then freeze it. I cut the chicken into strips and single serving sizes, package it into one pound portions, write it on the Ziploc bag, and then freeze it. I made the mistake of not writing it on the outside once and had to change our dinner plans. I cut the beef into chunks for stew and strips for recipes and grinding.
Tips for grinding your own meat:
1. Get the grinder ready ahead of time- don't forget the cutting tool (I did that-what a mess!).
2. Put the meat in the freezer to make it very cold 20-30 minutes usually does it.
3. Then cut the meat into long, thin strips.
4. Then put it through the grinder at it's own pace. Forcing it can bruise the meat.
5. Try not to do more than five (5) pounds at a time. It can wreak havoc on the grinder's motor, overheating it. (This is especially true if you use a manual hand grinder- as you are the motor!)
6. Grinding it twice is good as the fat is spread out better and cooks easier, I have found. I use the coarse attachment on the first grind and then the fine attachment on the second grind.
7. Package and freeze the meat as soon as you can.
It is wise to buy a little more meat than you plan to end up with as there is some waste in the grinding process. I try to buy an extra tenth of a pound for each pound I plan to grind. If there is less waste than this, I make a slightly heavier pound. Always good when you have a teenager, like I do!
I flatten out the ground beef when I put it into the bag as the air is pushed out, leaving less chance for freezer burn, and the meat thaws faster. I have been able to thaw a pound of ground beef under cool water in less than 20 minutes. Always good for those occasions when you may have forgotten to take meat out that day. This also works for chicken that has been cut into strips.
Making life a bit simpler while saving time and money!
If you have any questions, please ask!