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We all struggle with how to manage grocery shopping, keeping a well-stocked refrigerator, and making food for our family. What works for one person or family doesn’t always work for another, right? Even though this is true, there is always a need to hear new ideas because you never know if the next one just might work for you. I have heard of some people who grocery shop just once a month, or maybe even every 2 months. I don’t know how they do it, but I couldn’t make that work for our family. Or some people who meal plan for an entire year so 365 days are systematically planned out. I couldn’t do that either. So what does work for me?

There is one trick that has helped me more than any other meal planning ideas during this season of my kitchen life? Meat rotation. Yes, it’s been that simple. When processed meats have so many different ingredients in them that any one person in our family simply cannot have, we are left to make our own meat dishes — breakfast, lunch, and dinner. That may seem like a lot of work, but when you use the concept of meat rotation, it’s not as difficult as you might think.

I try and grab meats from the grocery store about one time per month. That means that when I get home from the store, almost all of the meat goes straight into my freezer. This helps guarantee that I don’t forget about it in the refrigerator and risk throwing it out, which I unfortunately can say from experience that I have had to do.

As a side note, I will say that if you don’t have an extra freezer somewhere in your house, getting one is a worthwhile investment. You can often find them used or on deals throughout the year at a big box store like Lowes or Home Depot. Get one and your life will change forever — for the better.

So I have all this frozen meat, but getting to the point of having meat thawed and ready to go is the challenge. That’s where the meat rotation is key. Every day I walk out to my freezer and grab 1–3 packages of meat and set them in a tray in my refrigerator. That meat will be used the following day. A good rule of thumb is to give your frozen meat 24–48 hours to thaw, depending on the type and size of meat. Fish is usually just 12-24 hours, but ground meats can take more like 36 hours.

Having meat constantly thawed and ready to prepare has helped me turn from processed meats to using raw meats to make food for my family. The best part is that by having meat ready to prepare, I can live life a little more free from having a rigid plan for meals. I love the flexibility to make something that sounds good or I’m craving. Last night I had ground beef thawed, so I decided that burgers sounded good for dinner.

And are you ready for a great burger tip? We use just cracked black pepper and smoked sea salt in our burgers. The secret is the smoked salt — hands down! Once you try it, you’ll never go back. The burgers turn out amazing every time! You’ll never need another burger recipe ever again! Serve it with some bacon, avocado, maybe a pickle or BBQ sauce, and a piece of lettuce for a burger wrap. It’s divine! Next you’ll be using the smoked salt on steaks and other lean pieces of beef. I have even started using it in my breakfast sausage.

If you’re struggling with keeping up with the shift to making more of your own food, try a simple meat rotation. You’ll be amazed how it alleviates your need to call Uber Eats for dinner.