Consumerism. It's brought us so many wonderful items. But it's also made us lazy. Cars now tell us if someone is in our blind spot rather than the simple action of turning our heads. Not turning our heads often enough leads to major problems. It's so much easier to buy a snack at work without looking. Or perhaps at the grocery store we pick up snacks to munch on for the workweek. We throw things in the cart, say its food and I need that.
One such item my husband is enamored with is jerky. Good old fashioned beef jerky. Being a good wife, I was at the grocery store the other day and realized a small package was $5.99. It would likely only satisfy him for one snack. Upon closer inspection of the jerky section I realized that packages were only 2-3 ounces and all similar in cost. If it's $5.99 for 2 ounces that means by the pound it's actually like paying something closer to $48 a pound. High in protein and even higher in price. Seriously isn't that a steak dinner in a nice restaurant?
The amount of effort needed is minimal. Cut meat. Marinade. Dry off meat. Use dehydrator or oven for several hours. Done. The recipe is up to you. I followed Alton Brown's recipe (except for the cut of beef) which can be found here. I'm not intrepid enough to set up box fans and filters of various sorts. Just a dehydrator I got from Grandma at my bridal shower. No dehydrator=no worries. Oven on lowest setting. I found 4-5 hours optimal.
So how much does it cost to make beef jerky at home? Not $48 a pound that's for sure.
Assuming you have a reasonable pantry to begin with here is the breakdown of ingredients used and the fractional cost of each individual ingredient.
Here it the break down. Keep in mind these are NY metropolitan prices. Not writing down sale prices either. That would drive the cost down even further. Don't have a dehydrator? Use your oven on its lowest setting. If you make jerky more than twice you've saved enough to buy the dehydrator. Or put some money in the bank. Or payoff your Costco membership for the year.
Beef- Top Round (Alton says use Flank, but I use the cheaper top round) $15
⅔ cup Worcestershire sauce $.50 (used container from Dollar Store)
⅔ cup soy sauce $1.15
1 tablespoon honey $.04
2 teaspoons Penzey's black pepper $ 1.26
2 teaspoons Penzey's onion powder $.85
1 teaspoon liquid smoke $.16
1 teaspoon Penzey's red pepper flakes $1.00
Total (give or take based on location): $19.96
Approximate jerky made was 24 ounces or 1 pound 8 ounces or would retail for about $72.
Savings versus store bought: $52. It could be more if you coupon or hit some really good sales or both.
Feel free to tinker with the recipe, I found it to be a great starting point to adjust it to our tastes. Just some more food for thought.