Friday, January 30, 2015

Shopping Changes

Let's talk food (again) for a bit.  How does one go from such an extremely commercial lifestyle to one very, very different? Baby steps, for me, it was baby steps.  First, we bought a whole beef from my Grandpa, then I got addicted to the thrill of the hunt at Farmer's Markets & finally, I joined the Iowa Food Coop.  These days, we do all 3 as regularly as possible.

The beef we get every fall/winter. Its always an exciting few weeks for us, yes, we ARE easily amused. ;) A couple of days after it is delivered to the locker, we have to call in our order.  The order is how we want it cut, what steaks & how thick or roast sizes, ribs on or off the bone, brisket cured or uncured, if any of the previous items want ground, bones, organs, & how do we want it all packaged? We usually start discussing these options about a month before the locker date because we both have preferences for different things or ideas of new things to try to fix requiring new cuts or a different thickness of cuts. The carcass hangs in the locker for 7-10 days, we prefer 10 as that can sometimes effect the tenderness of the meat, so we tell them that when we call in our order.  They will call when its all cut & ready to go.  We wait a couple of days, sometimes a week to pick it up to be sure its good & frozen as it is an hour drive back to our house & usually takes about 15-30 minutes to get it in the freezers once home.  >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>is a shot of our upright freezer in 2012 when we brought our beef home.  It gives me warm fuzzies and feels like Christmas! It can seem expensive the first time, but every night that you are pinching pennies in every other area of your life and can pull a package of rib eyes or t-bone steaks from your freezer, makes it all worth it.

The arrangement we have & that my Grandpa does with all of his customers, is that we all pay our own locker fee & then pay him whatever the market rate is.  Then, we like to add the 2 together, divide by the number of total pounds & revel in the fact that we have some amazing beef in our freezer for many dollars lower than the grocery store prices. We have gotten rather critical of beef dishes we order in restaurants or have out & about though.We love our beef! If you can also do pork this way, I would recommend it.  We tried one year but didn't eat it fast enough & pork does not keep in the freezer as long as beef before it gets to tasting 'gamey'. So when we are thinking about pork dishes, I get cuts from the coop or he picks it up from the store.

My grandparents were telling me the other night about 'back in the day' when he worked at the local locker & the people who rented the freezer space stopped on Friday or Saturday to pick up the meat for their week's meals. Can you imagine not having all of your groceries at home that you can pull out in a moment's notice, so planning a whole week ahead, making a special stop in town to get it AND actually having to follow that menu plan? Intriguing to me but so glad we have not one, but 2 deep freezes in our house.

There was a day, that we would stop at the store almost daily for supper ingredients, I know a lot of people who still do.  I like my weekly trips with the occasional stop during a week-usually for a jug of water our drinking water.   We started out getting the midgrade ground beef from the meat counter in our local grocery store, then upgraded to a higher grade, then we used to get a bulk package of ground beef or boneless skinless chicken breasts, some times both, on our monthly trip to Sam's Club. Those bulk packages were then split into smaller freezable portions for cooking later. Funny that at each time frame, that made me feel uber productive.  Funny how that definition keeps changing as my life changes.

.How has your meat shopping changed in the last few (or 20) years?  Do you think its a sign of the times, how society is changing or just us getting older?
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