One of the complaints often voiced about trying to eat well, and avoiding processed foods, is how expensive it is. Yes, it is often true that fresh fruit and vegetables often cost more than cereals, snacks and other fast food options.
But it doesn’t always have to be that way. With just a little bit of work, and knowing what you are looking for, you can find a bargain, even at some of the most expensive grocery stores around.
Like a home cooked roast beef in your oven.
I totally buy in to the sentiment that it is very healthy to eat beef. Not for every meal, but then again it’s probably not very wise to eat the same thing for every meal, no matter what you are talking about. As we discuss dinner options each night, we like to rotate through a variety of protein options, so beef probably ends up on the menu once a week or so.
But it can get quite tiresome, and expensive, to look only at steaks. Especially if you often find yourself at one of the more expensive groceries around, such as Whole Foods. But not every beef night has to center around steaks, it’s ok to search out less expensive cuts of meat, and spend a little bit more time with them in order to end up with a delightful meal, that costs a fraction of a steak dinner out at a restaurant.
On Sunday evenings, we often try to cook up a large batch of something, that we can then divvy up into smaller portions for school lunches for the kids. And a homemade roast beef works just fine.
When I make a roast beef roast at home, I like to use the bottom round roast, which I can usually find at my local Whole Foods for $6 or $7 a pound. But every once in a while, like yesterday, I’ll see this cut of meat go on sale, for $4.99 a pound! I was able to get the butcher to cut me a 5.80 lb roast for under $30!
That $30 roast will easily feed a family of four, plus enough for lunches for both of my kids all week, and a few more lunches for either my wife, or myself, or maybe we could even share. All told, that roast will easily provide us with 15 meals, under $30 total, or about $2 a meal for our meat, which is next to impossible to match, even at a fast food joint!
The first few times I tried cooking this cut of meat, I simply used a pan on the stove top and then moved it over to the oven. No sides, no other ingredients, just a naked beef roast. But once I got comfortable with the process, I started trying to turn this roast beef recipe into a full meal, or at least something approaching it.
I still start the bottom round roast in the pan, browning it on a few sides, and then set it to the side. At that point, I add a sliced onion, stirring for a few minutes to sweat them and help pick up some of the browned up bits stuck on the bottom of the pan. Once I cook the onions down a little, I add tomatoes, carrots and place the beef roast back in the pan and then move the whole dish into the oven to slow cook until dinner time!
5 lb bottom round beef roast
2 tablespoons of cooking fat
1 onion – sliced
3-5 carrots – roughly chopped
2-4 garlic cloves
1 can or jar of tomato sauce
- Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees
- Take roast out of fridge about 30-60 minutes before you want to start actively cooking
- Season roast liberally with salt and pepper on all sides, but especially well on the side with the fat cap
- Prepare onion, carrots and garlic
- Using an oven proof pan, heat over medium to medium high heat for a few minutes
- Once pan is hot, add your fat to the pan, I normally use high quality olive oil plus a tab of butter
- Add the beef roast, fat side down
- Let the roast sear for several minutes without disturbing it, and then turn the whole roast over once the fat cap has browned up nicely
- After browning the beef roast, remove and then add sliced onions to the pan, stirring every few minutes, until browned to your desired level
- Add garlic cloves, tomato sauce and carrots, stir to combine – clear some space in the pan and add the roast back to the pan along with the other ingredients.
- Place an oven proof thermometer into the beef, and place the whole pan into the pre-heated oven
- Once the thermometer reaches 120-125, remove the roast from the oven, for a medium-rare roast beef
- Let roast rest on cutting board for at least 15-20 minutes before slicing
- While roast is resting, increase oven temperature to 400 degrees and place pan back in oven to continue cooking onions, carrots and tomato sauce.