It often seems as though your efforts to eat inexpensively mean having to sacrifice what many of us see as standard fare. For example: What about beef? With the toughest cuts of beef starting above five dollars a pound, a juicy grilled steak will bust the $7 Dinner budget… or will it?
Very recently, prices on many cuts of beef jumped about 5% in central Pennsylvania. Despite the increase, your family of four can have steak and side dishes for less than $7. I did this a few weeks ago when I bought London Broil at a buy-one-get-one-free sale. The grocery store’s normal price for London Broil was $6.32 per pound, so buying two packs of nearly the same weight reduced the price to $3.16 per pound. The smallest packages contained about two pounds of meat, so I bought four pounds (in two packages), froze one package, and cooked the other for dinner.
Audiences at some of my presentations outside of Pennsylvania have advised me they pay more for meat than I do. Wherever you live, you’ll need to shop around to find the best deals. Even if your best sale price for London Broil is four or five dollars per pound, choose low-cost side dishes and you can keep the cost of your meal below $7.
Sticking with my $3.16 per pound price, if each diner ate ¼ pound of beef, a two-pound package would last for two dinners. Spending only $3.16 for the beef left $3.84 to spend on side dishes and drinks—enough to provide very generous sides of mashed potatoes, bread, salad, vegetables, and more.
Cooking London Broil
London broil isn’t naturally tender, but neither is it very tough. Typically, people marinade a London broil to flavor it and, perhaps, to tenderize it just a bit. The real trick, however, is simply to slice the meat thin across the grain just before serving. The thin slices are meaty and tasty and can satisfy an American’s urge for beef. I prepared my London broil with a teriyaki marinade.
2 lbs London broil, $6.32
½ cup red cooking wine, $.33
¼ cup soy sauce, $.16
2 TB brown sugar, $.06
½ tsp ground black pepper, $.03
1 tsp grated fresh ginger, $.02
At least four hours before you plan to cook, combine all the ingredients except the beef in a one-quart zippered freezer bag and mix them well by squeezing the bag repeatedly. Add the meat and zip-seal the bag while forcing out as much air as you can. Place the bag on a plate and set it in your refrigerator. After a few hours, flip the bag and leave it in the refrigerator a few more hours.
Heat your grill to “high,” and cook the London broil for nine minutes on each side. Alternatively, cook it under a broiler for about the same duration. If the meat doesn’t come out right the first time you try this, adjust the cooking time accordingly next time.
Immediately after cooking, set the London broil on a cutting board and cover it with a large pot lid. Let it sit for ten minutes and then cut 1/8 inch slices across the end.
Serve three or four slices with ¾ cups of rice and pigeon peas (drain the liquid from a 15 oz can of pigeon peas and stir them through 2 cups of rice before cooking it normally) and a salad. If you’re “steak and potatoes” folks, have mashed potatoes instead of the rice mixture… but the rice is better for you.
With rice and pigeon peas, a dressed lettuce salad, and a cup of 1% milk, your dinner for four costs $5.34 and you’ll use up half the London broil at one meal. One serving (steak, rice and pigeon peas, salad, and milk) contains 575 calories, 24 grams of fat, 62 mg of cholesterol, and 38 grams of fiber.
This post originally appeared in the May 9, 2012 issue of the Daily Item, Sunbury, PA’s local newspaper. I made minor edits to adapt it for The Untrained Housewife.