Going into Dutch

Just a couple of days away from the annual birthday BBQ which means it was time to pick up the meats for the gaggle of friends and family who will be chowing down.

I decided to change the menu up a little this year, hoping to reduce the time I spent over the fire while people were around so I might actually get a couple of moments to gab with them.

With that thought in mind, I shifted the food fare a bit from the regular choices.  The ribs, of course, are a requirement, along with burgers and dogs…I just can’t imagine me throwing a bbq without them.  To both widen the selection and ease my carbon-faced burden, I’m adding chicken parmesan, sausage & peppers (& onions) and chicken wings into the mix.  All three new entries can be easily cooked inside on the stove or in the oven (well, ok, I do grill the sausages first, but that’s softcore bbq).

Ever since I lost my local Albertson’s and their insane meat sale prices, I’ve searched for a reliable combination of good prices and good meat.  I’ve had some decent luck at Western Beef, but I’ve always had a hankering to try out this “Penn Dutch” place I keep seeing ads for.

The ads show amazingly low prices on highly desirable meat choices.  The problem is that the lone store “close” by is considerably farther than Western Beef and accessed through the traffic-filled and traffic light laden U.S. 441.  In between our heavy thunderstorms, we’ve been getting burning sun that plays its own bbq tune on my all-black car.  I was concerned about the impact that would have on any foods I bought as I inched my way back home.

Ultimately, I gambled that my ability to travel at “off-peak” times would allow me to keep driving time to a minimum.  As if to counter my thinking, today has been the clearest and hottest day in weeks (if not all year).  Nevertheless, I made the trek out there today and I am glad that I did.

The selection of meats (including beef, pork and chicken in that category) was terrific and buying for a bbq meant I could go for the “family” packs, which dropped the price even further. Plus, there were some neat wrinkles in the packaging, such as a “mix and match” package of sausage that had half sweet and half hot italian sausage.

I found other surprising options there (like an unexpectedly large bakery area) and if I did not want to reserve my refrigerator and freezer entirely for the party, I might have been tempted to buy a bunch of unrelated items, but I managed to maintain discipline.

As I was placing the last bag in the shopping cart, waiting for the tab, I realized I had literally filled the cart with meat.  No matter how much I thought I was cutting down my cooking, I now recognize I have a whole lot of food prep ahead of me.

The tab, by the way, for all that food was just over $120.  That’s a great price for feeding two dozen people (and leftovers for me for weeks).  I was surprised and impressed by the value.  It seems I avoided going into dutch by going into Penn Dutch!

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