Meat Shortages Go Mainstream with Rations and Menu Changes: How to Keep Meat on Your Table by Daisy Luther for The Organic Prepper
Chalk it up to a side effect nobody ever expected from the pandemic: meat is becoming difficult to get. Who would have expected this to result in grocery stores across the country rationing meat purchases? Who would have ever thought the COVID-19 virus would mean that places like Wendy’s would stop selling burgers altogether and that McDonald’s would cut its menu to only a handful of offerings?
Workers at meat packaging plants have been especially hard hit with the coronavirus. Almost 60% of the employees at one Tyson plant in Iowa have tested positive for COVID. Plants everywhere are shutting down for the safety of their employees and despite President Trump’s invocation of the Defense Production Act to force them to reopen, many workers have refused to return to the plants. Factory farms have culled millions of cows, hogs, and chickens because they cannot be to plants that are either closed or reducing the amount of meat they’re able to process while practicing social distancing.
Historically, the centralization of food has always ended in disaster. Unfortunately, giant CAFO operations and USDA approval have centralized our own food supply, and here we are.
Do the meat shortages mean that you have to become a vegetarian? While that is one option, here are some other ways to keep meat on the table at your house.
Buy in bulk locally
One of the best ways to acquire meat is to purchase in bulk and to do so locally. You can buy a quarter or a half of a pig or cow and have it processed into your favorite cuts. As well, you are locking in your meat price by purchasing it all at once. This way, you won’t be as strongly affected by meat inflation until next season.
Here are a few tips for bulk purchases of meat
- If that is more meat than your family can use or more money than you can spend right now, consider going in with another family and splitting the purchase.
- You need a deep freezer in order to make the most of such a large purchase.
- I also like to can meat so that I am not as dependent on the electrical grid. Look into canning entire roasts, meatballs, or chili. You can also check out my canning cookbook for more canning recipes.
- Have the poorer cuts turned into stew meat or ground meat.
- Slow cooking a lower quality cut can turn something tough into something that melts in your mouth.
You’re more likely in the future to get meat in cuts to which you are unaccustomed, so, for example, whole chickens instead of a styrofoam tray of boneless skinless chicken breasts. You will be more likely to cook a stew or a roast. Have a plan for what you can do with those leftovers to extend them through another meal. Here are a few quick ideas:
- Make gravy. If you have a serving of meat too small to go around for all of your family members, consider making gravy and serving it over mashed potatoes. Add some onion and mushrooms to the gravy to extend it even further.
- Make a soup or stew. This is another way to extend a serving that isn’t quite big enough to go around
- Mix it with beans and add Mexican seasoning to make burritos or to serve over rice.
- When you make a large roast, thinly slice the meat for sandwiches and salads throughout the work and school week.
- Cover leftover stew with pie crust or biscuit dough for a delicious potpie
- Look for recipes specifically written to use up leftovers.
- If you have more leftovers than you can use before they spoil, sometimes they can be canned – check out the instructions here for some examples.
Don’t waste anything
Use up the things that most people throw away. When preparing the meat, if you are cutting away some fat or bone, place it in a bowl and put it in the freezer. When you have enough like scraps of meat, it’s time to make broth from it. You can make hearty broth from ham, turkey, chicken, beef, or pork – virtually any kind of meat. Use the inedible parts and cook it down for hours to get a rich and delicious broth. You can then use this broth as a base for soup or to cook your rice in to add a hit of nutrition.