This is one of my favorite ways to stretch meat! You can get at least six meals from this one cut–all for less than $15!
I shared earlier this week about how I am getting back into the habit of meal planning and sticking to our grocery budget. It hasn’t been a perfect week so far, but we are making the effort to ditch the bad habits and replace them with good ones.
In other words, a lot less fast food. A lot less impulse shopping. And a lot more home cooked meals and carefully planned grocery trips.
One of my favorite ways to save money in the kitchen is to figure out ways to stretch meat and still make delicious, filling meals.
Cooking a roast chicken and using the meat throughout the week is one great way to stretch meat. Cutting the ground beef in a recipe in half and replacing it with mushrooms or beans is another.
And one of my favorite ways to stretch meat is to buy a pork loin from Costco and portion it out–for less than two dollars a pound, you can get enough meat for six delicious meals!
Keep reading to see how to get six meals from one pork loin. Check out and pin the recipes (hint: you don’t have to buy a pork loin to use them).
How to Get Six Meals from One Cut of Meat
As soon as you purchase the pork loin, you need to process it by dividing the loin into pieces to use for each meal. Cut the meat, bag the pieces, and label each bag to freeze for a future meal.
The ends of the pork loin are the largest cuts, and are reserved for barbecue and to roast. I typically cut these to about 5-6 inches, with the cut for barbecue being slightly smaller.
The middle of the pork loin is then used for chops and strips. I cut four thick-cut pork chops (about 3/4″ thick), and then about six thin-cut chops (about 1/2″ thick). After I have sliced the chops, I take the remaining amount and cut it into thin strips to use for fried rice, lo men, etc.
Freezing tip: Place the pork chops and strips in freezer bags in a single layer. The meat will thaw much more quickly this way.
Bacon & Pear Stuffed Pork Chops (Thick cut chops)
- 4 thick-cut pork chops
- 3 bacon slices
- 1 ripe pear, cut into 1/2″ pieces
- 1/2 C shredded Parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper
1. Preheat oven to 375°.
2. Cook bacon slices in a nonstick skillet until crisp. Remove the bacon to a paper towel, and chop when cool. Drain the grease, leaving about 1 teaspoon in the pan. Sauté the pear in the hot oil over medium heat for about 3-4 minutes, or until the pear begins to soften. Combine the chopped bacon, sautéed pear, and Parmesan cheese in a bowl.
3. Cut a “pocket” into the pork chops on the non-fatty side. Use a paring knife to slice into the center of the pork chop, extending the pocket just up to the sides and fatty side of the chop. Repeat for each pork chop.
4. Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in the nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Salt and pepper both sides of the pork chops. Brown the chops on both sides, cooking for about 2-3 minutes per side in the hot skillet.
5. Remove the chops from the pan and let them rest until they are cool enough to touch, (should only be a couple of minutes). Stuff the pockets of the pork chops with the stuffing mixture, pressing the mixture in tightly. Set stuffed pork chops in a square pyrex dish.
6. Bake for 15-20 minutes in preheated oven, or until the pork chops measure 170° in the center.
BBQ Pulled Pork
- pork loin
- barbecue sauce
1. Combine the pork loin and barbecue sauce in a crockpot and cook for 6-7 hours on low, or 3-4 hours on high. When pork is cooked (with an internal temperature of 170), shred with a fork or in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment.
2. Serve with rolls or buns.
Easy Homemade Barbecue Sauce:
(Recipe from Cooks Illustrated and the most important cookbook in my kitchen)
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small saucepan, add 1/2 cup minced onion and saute 4-5 minutes until the onion begins to soften. Stir in 2 minced garlic cloves and cook 30 seconds. Add 1/2 C cider vinegar, 1/2 C worcestershire sauce, 1 tablespoon dry mustard, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 1 tablespoon paprika, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 tsp cayenne pepper. Bring to a simmer, then stir in 1 C ketchup. Cook over low heat 15 minutes, until thickened.
Slow Cooked Pork Roast
- 3-4lb pork loin
- 3 Tbsp dried minced onion
- 1 Tbsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp freshly ground pepper
1. Place the pork loin in a slow cooker. Combine the remaining indredients in a small dish and mix well. Pour the seasoning blend over the pork loin. Add 1 C water to the slow cooker, but do not pour it directly on the pork loin so you do not wash all the seasoning from the top of the meat.
2. Cook on high for 3-4 hours, or on low for 6-7 hours, until the internal temperature reads 170.
3. Remove the pork loin from the slow cooker to a cutting board. Loosely tent the roast with a piece of foil while it rests. Pour the cooking liquid through a strainer into a small saucepan. Heat the juices over medium heat until it begins to simmer. Cook for 5-10 minutes until the cooking liquid is reduced by about half.
4. Slice the roast and serve with the au jus.
Pan Fried Pork Chops (Thin cut chops)
Photo Cred: The Pioneer Woman
The Pioneer Woman’s recipe for pan-fried pork chops is so simple and delicious! It is a really quick meal to prepare, especially since thin cut pork chops thaw really quickly.
Pork Fried Rice (thin strips)
Use this recipe for 30 Minute Fried Rice, substituting pork for the main protein.
Pork lo Mein (thin strips)
I adapted this recipe for easy lo mein to make pork lo mein with one bag of pork strips. Be sure to buy lo mein or udon noodles to give the dish a more authentic taste.
What is one of your favorite ways to stretch meat?