once a month freezer cooking carnivore diet on the go for cheap
November 25, 2007 6:27 PM   Subscribe

I want to great a food plan/way of eating with the following requirements: Paleo/carnivore (animals--esp. cow and pig, high fat in animal fat, fish, leafy greens) Once a month cooking (or twice) Cheap in NYC apartment (i.e. no deep freezer to buy whole animals) On the go (on average, four days out of week I only eat breakfast at home)

For cheapness, thankfully the fatty cuts of meat are often cheapest, so going with less than $2/lb cuts. Other ideas, for instance, are meat markets cheaper? Cheap way to get butter and leafy veggies and fish other than random sales?
For once a month freezer cooking--can make big bone broth, a few different chilis, what else makes big patches?
Then key sticking point for me is having the food with me--thermos to keep meat in? (This also relates to how to best store frozen food in serving sizes.)
Fatty meats that don't need to be cold other than pemmican [cheap source of pemmican?] and canned fish?
posted by Furious Fitness to Food & Drink (10 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Head to Chinatown -- the Manhattan Chinatown.

They'll hook you up with some cheap meat and fish.

There are also several stores devoted to the sale of various jerkies. Pork, beef, etc. I wouldn't call it cheap. The market price appeared to be about $16 a pound. But it's certainly easier to obtain there than in other parts of the city.

New Beef King.

Ling Kee

Malaysia Beef Jerky
posted by jason's_planet at 7:14 PM on November 25, 2007

Lasagne is your friend. Make a large pan of it. You can use cheap ground beef. When you make it, eat one serving for dinner. Put two servings in the refrigerator in plastic containers that are ready to go for the upcoming week. Put the remainder in the freezer in individual portions. You can just use the cheap-o Gladlock containers or whatever, and the lasagne will keep fine as long as we're not talking about months on end.

Beef stew is also a good option for you. All you need are chunks of cheap cuts of beef, cheap vegetables, a few other inexpensive ingredients. Put it all in the pot. Stir. wait. Eat one serving, freeze the rest.

There are lots of canned fatty meat products (for example, Spam), so if you want to go that route, you don't need to limit yourself to fish. Dry salami and other cured meats will generally keep fine without refrigeration.
posted by jewishbuddha at 7:18 PM on November 25, 2007

Not sure about the other stuff but meat markets are definitely cheaper. Try the Big Apple Meat Market on 9th Ave between 41st & 42nd. There's a cheap produce store next door too.

If your NYC freezer is like my NYC freezer, you'll have to cook more than once a month, though.
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:32 PM on November 25, 2007

To start, here's a list of paleodiet recipes, including jerky and pemmican.

Your freezer is your friend. I hope you have at least a full-sized fridge freezer, because the way I can suggest to you for good prices on meat is going to be buying on sale and stocking up.

Also, I looked into the Paleolithic diet a little to see if I could understand your needs a bit more. Butter's not on it. Nor are fatty meats.

So I'm confused.
posted by Stewriffic at 7:34 PM on November 25, 2007

You might want to make batches of curry if you like it - chicken thighs or stewing beef to be long simmered, get yourself some different curry mixes for variation. If you can, learn to like kale and other relatively cheap greens - I cook kale with garlic, ginger and hot pepper, it's quite good. Chinese groceries really are a find for deals on fish and seafood - you might explore the veg possibilities too. Bok choy cooks up fast (garlic and ginger in a hot wok) and is good for you, and there are several varieties. Chinese broccoli is also a nice variation on the regular kind. Check out other ethnic groceries for deals and variety.

Incidentally, lasagne and other pasta dishes are not paleolithic. The diet excludes grains and dairy. So I wouldn't use butter: if you can find a source of rendered duck fat you can sauté meat in just a dab of it and it's far better than cooking in butter. You can also use olive or nut oils for some things.
posted by zadcat at 8:14 PM on November 25, 2007

If you have a microwave available to you when you're out and about, then straight-from-the-freezer plastic containers full of batch-prepared foods are the way to go.

If no microwave, then yes, a good insulated food jar makes all the difference. This thermos (ahem, non-Thermos-brand vacuum insulated stainless steel snack jar) keeps hot stews, chilis, curries, etc hot for a long time. (Larger version of the same thing.) Method: for Monday's lunch, move one serving of food from the freezer to the fridge on, say, Saturday night. On Monday morning, heat the food in a saucepan on the stovetop, stirring frequently, until it is boiling, sputtering hot—hotter than you would normally eat it. Transfer it to the thermos. A canning funnel facilitates the transfer. Warning: the sound of cutlery (even plastic cutlery) clanging and scraping against the hollow steel thermos may annoy other people in the vicinity.

Also, this may be too obvious to mention, but if you're going to try the plan above for taking food from freezer to thermos, you should know the capacity of your thermos and portion out the food accordingly when you prepare it for freezing. (I point this out because the first thermos I linked to is not a standard size for plastic containers.)

As for recipes: pot roast is a good way of cooking large cuts of cheap, tough meats. (Google for recipes; there are a zillion variations.) When the roast gets tender, pull/shred it into whatever gravy or cooking liquid you're using.
posted by Orinda at 10:23 PM on November 25, 2007

Do you have a slow cooker or crockpot?

If you do, you might try making a pot of beans.
Here is my recipe for Red Beans: First you need to mix up a batch of Creole seasoning. This stuff is good and you'll find it's tasty on grilled meat and in stews also.

Once you've got that mixed up, store it in an air tight container ( This will make 18 tbsp and you'll only need 1 per pot of beans). The great thing about this recipe is that it costs about 6 bucks to make it and you can feed about 5 or 6 people with it.

Ok, the rest of the shopping list is as follows: 1lb of dry red beans, a half pound of fatty pork like salt pork or a ham hock even a block of bacon will work, just make sure it's not sliced, you want whole meat for this dish.
Meat and beans are the center of the dish, next the seasoning, like Green pepper, one will do. A small onion, a stalk or two of celery, and don't for get garlic (about 5 or 6 cloves for this dish) and 2 bay leaves.

Now, rinse the beans with cold water and pick through them to make sure you've got no stones in there. Put the rinsed beans in your slow cooker and fill it to the top with water and leave soaking overnight.

in the morning give the beans a final rinse and put about 5 cups of fresh water in the cooker with the soaked beans.

Add one table spoon of the Creole seasoning and the bay leaves together with your half pound or full pound of fatty pork product. Turn cooker on to a low setting and let it do it's thing for about 8 hours. After that time the beans should be tender and together with the fat pork should be making a nice red bean gravy in your pot. But your not done just yet.

In a heavy skillet heat up a tbsp of oil and add the chopped up bell pepper, onion , and celery. Let that cook on a medium low heat untill soft, then at the end add the minced up garlic. Let that cook for just a litte while, maybe no more than 3 or 4 minutes.

Then spoon the cooked veggies into your pot of beans and leave it for an hour or so to let the flavors come together. All that's left is to cook up some rice and you're ready to go.

Once this cools off, you can freeze it and you can always double up the recipe if a pound of beans isn't enough, just go easy on the Creole seasoning 2 tablespoons is a lot even for 2 lb of beans.

This is how I make it because it takes care of it self while I'm at work, and only takes me about 30 minuter to finish up when I get home. Here is where I got the idea for my version, Chuck' version may work better for you.
posted by nola at 7:43 AM on November 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

Western Beef doesn't have the best quality meats but their prices are pretty reasonable.
posted by jason's_planet at 7:52 AM on November 26, 2007

Beans, lentils and other pulses are not paleolithic either.

Basically, you can eat anything you could eat raw, although there is no requirement to actually eat it raw. You can eat meat, fish, non-starchy vegetables, fruit, and true nuts - and not much else. Adherents will debate the finer points, but that's the basic idea.
posted by zadcat at 8:33 AM on November 26, 2007

I went paleo this summer without even a kitchen, but I budgeted a lot of money. I ate a lot of smoked salmon. Cuts of offal were cheap at my farmer's market, but I didn't have time to cook them. I ate out salad and when I was at Chipotle I had riceless burrito bowls. Often though, I ended up going with nuts for most of my fat. They do not require cooking and you can carry them anywhere.

I also suggest purslane, which is a weed. You can sometimes find safe wild sources. It's very nutritious and I find it tasty.

I also ate tons and tons of egg drop soup. I had a microwave, so I just boiled water, added the egg and herb stock and voila! I usually added seaweed too, but that was expensive.

BTW paleo diet varies. Cordain recommends lean meats, but other paleo adherents are more Atkins about fat.
posted by melissam at 6:25 PM on November 26, 2007

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