Got Orthonomics in your Email Box?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

When Brisket Runs Over $16 per Pound

I stopped in the kosher store recently to see if I could locate a somewhat obscure ingredient for a Syrian dish I was making, only to later find it (on sale) in a neighborhood grocery shortly after. While I was in the store I noted brisket was a whopping $16.59 per pound. The particular brisket sitting in front of me cost in total over $65 and I don't think it would have made a second showing on the second day of Yom Tov.

The shopping I did for the past Shabbat, the coming Shabbat, and Rosh Hashana right in between hasn't cost me a whole lot more than $65 (of course, I'm using many ingredients on hand like flour, eggs, and canned goods I have already picked up on sale and/or on the damaged rack).

Roasts are a staple for chagim in many houses. But if you are trying to maintain some grocery budget sanity, something has got hit the butcher block. And roasts have hit my chopping block, possibly for good. I skipped pricy cuts of meat this last Pesach and once again will be skipping such cuts for Tishrei.

My secret for managing Yom Tov within the yearly grocery budget is to make sure the main dishes poultry, fish, and meat are kept to small portions and are not the sole focus of the meal. By serving a number of tempting and unique side dishes, the focus shifts from the main dishes to the side dishes and we don't consume $65 of meat in a single sitting. Another secret of mine is to serve hearty soups. For the chagim, I make a hearty chicken soup with good size chunks of chicken and lots of vegetables in it. Once everyone is done having a hearty soup, they tend to control their portions of food better than when they had a chicken broth soup for the 1st course.

Of course, on Yom Tov we should give proper kavod through delicacies (and those who have tried my flourless cake in a honey sauce are in for a treat). But, knowing we will come out of Yom Tov without too many extra pounds and a crushed budget is also a treat.

18 comments:

mekubal said...

Well with all the problems in the Kosher meat world in America, plus the economy, I am predicting that Chulent meat will be over $20lb by Pesach... especially if Aaron's goes under.

SuperRaizy said...

Those are good ideas!

tesyaa said...

I truly enjoy my milchik and pareve meals on yom tov -- which are usually 2 out of the 4 meals. The best treat is having milchik ice cream for dessert, which I rarely serve. True, fish is expensive, but it's healthy. I buy individually frozen tilapia at around $4-5 per pound. Lots of lasagna (ok, ok, cheese is expensive too)...

tesyaa said...

And the ice cream I bought was on sale for $1.88 for the now standard shrunken package - still a good deal I think

SephardiLady said...

Where did you buy the ice cream. $1.88 is good. I'm stocking up today for $1.99. There is a Turkey Hill coupon in today's paper, but Turkey Hill is not on sale.

I also like milchig meals. I still haven't figured out how to pull this off. But, if I serve fish and parve side dishes for lunch, ice cream is still an option.

ProfK said...

It's not just that everything has gone up on a regular basis SL, but that price gouging before yom tov is alive and well. I have a lot of freezer space, I work and I like to shop really early for yom tov so that everything is here when I'm ready to cook. Four weeks ago I bought a large turkey breast roast for the first night of yom tov--yes, pricey at $33 but it serves for at least two meals for the white meat eaters in the family with plenty of leftovers. Friday I found myself in the butchers and figured I would buy another roast to put away for Sukkot--not in this lifetime. The cost, for the same size roast I already have, went to $54. That's not inflation--that's highway robbery. Nor is it our butcher's fault; he brings in the meat already packaged and labeled with the price from the large Brooklyn butchers.

We are also big fans of side dishes and it does cut down on how much is being eaten of the main dish, but side dishes also cost money. I keep costs under control in a fairly simple way: I cook what I know my family will eat and what will be considered "treats" as leftovers.

I also do two milchig meals which helps all around--they can't face four huge fleishig meals in a row in my house. If you have oven considerations for fleishig/milchigs, there is a steel "warming box" that used to be available (don't know about now) that fits over a burner on a stove but works like an oven since the flame is two inches below the floor of the box where the food goes on a rack. Great for warming up already cooked lasagna and other milchig dishes prepared before yom tov. A friend who needed a large one of these had one made up at an ironmongers shop for about $50--lots cheaper then buying another stove.

tesyaa said...

ice cream - ShopRite in Nutley, NJ

tdr said...

I want that recipe for flourless cake, SL. Do you use almond flour for it? I found some for a very good price at Trader Joe's right before Pesach and it's been sitting in my freezer ever since. I've been wanting a good recipe for it.

Simply controlling the amount of food served can really help also. A rule of thumb I used to use -- and really should use again -- is figure out how much food I think I need for the meal, and then cut it in half. It's about right at that point.

I tried doing without my brisket one yom tov and it just didn't feel like yom tov!

May you have a year of bracha, SL! Thanks for all the chizuk.

anonymous mom said...

I use turkey roasts as variation for chicken. They are easy to prepare and taste great with a bread/vegetable stuffing. Also, stuffing the chicken by putting some flavored rice under the skin makes chicken a bit more dressy for the Chag. Also, chop meat (getting pricey) stuffed multicolor peppers --pretty and symbolic for a year stuffed with good things. Shana Tova.
P.S. I still sold out and bought a roast, albeit a cheaper rolled chuck. I couldn't help myself.

SephardiLady said...

TDR-Let me put this up as its own post. I used ground walnuts that have been sitting in my freezer since, uh, Pesach. Ground almonds should work too.

SephardiLady said...

Anonymous Mom- also like serving turkey breast. Love the stuffed peppers idea.

Anonymous said...

What makes no sense is that shoulder cut silver tip, which is as lean as could be, is half the price of brisket and usually less than center eye chuck - go figure.

Also, in spite of the belief to the contrary, fillet beef is still cheaper than fillet chicken per pound and not much more than turkey.

And the older I get, the less I enjoy turkey - in particular because my sense of smell is so acute - and chicken really does not taste as good on day two, whereas beef actually tastes better on days 2 and 3.

Tamar said...

Who knows if anyone's reading this after chag, but I wanted to chime in that here in Israel, I scored mehadrin corned beef at 52 shekel a kilo -- that works out to $17.40 a kilo, or roughly $8 a lb. It was a good cut of beef, and delicious to boot! But then ground meat is up to almost 70 shek a kilo -- no more meatballs for us for the time being.

tdr said...

It's Tzom Gedalia and all this food talk is making me hungry (especially that beautiful picture of the challot).

I want to add that at least one person I know drives to Lakewood for her meat and she said it is *way* cheaper than Baltimore. Like $9 vs. $15/lb. I'm considering getting together a group to do that for Pesach. Her husband goes all the way to New York for Pesach! I can't see how that is worth it frankly, but I haven't done the math.

G'mar tov to kol echad.

Mike S. said...

I think I spent more per portion on artichokes than on brisket. The artichokes were over 3 dollars each.

tdr said...

Produce is expensive. At least decent, interesting produce is. People always talk about the high cost of meat, but I feel like I spend a *fortune* on produce if I buy anything other than carrots, cukes, onions, and celery.

Ariella said...

you want real sticker shock for produce? Some of the specialty shehechichiuyanu fruits went as high as $15 a piece. That was the price is Supersol for something called Dragon Fruit. It's about the size of a mango with a red skin. The same fruit was priced $10 in Brach's. But I didn't buy it in either store. I bought the usual prickly pear plus a star fruit to make the daughter who was clamoring for it happy -- total cost $1.59

SephardiLady said...

Ariella-That is just price gouging with no apologies. What I bought for a new fruit was not to my kids liking, or ours for that matter.
Thank G-d it didn't cost more than $2.