Here's how you make one meal's worth of meat last nine dinners.
- Dinner 1: Buy enough lamb shanks or ribs to serve everyone for one meal plus one more serving. Braise them. I used this simple crockpot recipe (using a bullion cube instead of the onion soup mix), and it was both inexpensive and delicious. I served the shanks with potatoes and green beans. Skim and save the fat that congeals on the top, and save the braising liquid. When you serve the meat, insist on portion control with it, and reserve the extra serving of meat that you bought.
- Dinners 2-4: Using the braising liquid, cook at least two cups of dried beans, along with a chopped onion or two and a bell pepper. I used equal portions of pinto and black beans. Black eyed peas would also have been a good option. You will probably need to add more water to have enough liquid. I served rice and beans for dinner twice (salad on the side). For a third meal, the beans were running a bit short, so I added some turkey hotdogs to the beans. Again, I reserved the bean liquor.
- Dinners 5 and 6: Cook a large batch of rice in the bean liquor. You might need to add more water to make enough liquid. Add to the rice before you start cooking it onions, bell pepper, a couple of chopped hotdogs or sausages, and any leftover beans. Serve as a main course with grated cheese and maybe some green onions or cilantro. Add a vegetable side dish, and call it dinner.
- Dinner 7: Use the saved fat to make a double batch of gravy. Use half the gravy for a dinner of biscuits or rice and gravy served with vegetables. If making biscuits, make a double batch of dough, and freeze half.
- Dinners 8 and 9: Use the remaining gravy and reserved meat (deboned and chopped small) to makes shepherd's pie or pot pie. If you served the meat with potatoes in the initial meal, leftover potatoes can be used to make the top of a shepherd's pie. In addition to meat and gravy, I filled my 9x13 pie with onions, celery, carrots, and mushrooms all sautéed together; some frozen peas and corn; and a leftover half can of green beans. I also topped it with biscuits (this is where you can use the other half of that biscuit dough) instead of potatoes or pie crust. I served the pot pie with a salad on the side.