In an effort to help keep my grocery budget under control, I mostly cook and bake at home. That’s not to say we don’t like to eat out, because we do, but it can get expensive and I like to count on leftovers for lunches or another dinner. When I make my menu for the week, I include snacks. I found if I don’t put them down on my menu and include them on my grocery list, they become impulse buys at the grocery store. That’s why my Easy Beef Jerky is a must for satisfying my snack cravings, and keeping money in my pocket.
For a satisfying snack on the go, grab a handful of Easy Beef Jerky!
I have found one of the biggest, black holes of my grocery budget is buying prepackaged snack foods. While they are super convenient to take to work or school, they are often laden with chemicals we can’t pronounce, contain a crazy amount of sugar or there is usually more package than there is food in them.
One of the ways I get around this, is by making a lot of these goodies at home. This helps controls costs, but I can also flavor or personalize many of the snacks we have to suit our specific preferences. Easy Beef Jerky, and dried fruit are some of our favorite grab and go foods and my food dehydrator is my go-to for having these items on hand for my family. You only require one ingredient when dehydrating and that is the food you are drying, You can add any spices you like, but you don’t even have to do that. As the food dries, the flavor intensifies and can then stand on its own as a delicious treat.
If you don’t have a dehydrator, no worries. You can easily use your oven set at its lowest temperature and slice your ingredients thin for even drying. You would then put them on a cookie sheet or some sort of lined pan and keep the door of the oven closed. Typically, fruits and vegetables are done in 8 hours, but meat may take longer, up to 12 hours or more, depending on how thick you have cut it.
My favorite foods to dry are meat to make Easy Beef Jerky and dried fruit. I often buy lean meat on sale and fruit in bulk while it is in season. By purchasing these things while in season or on sale, I am adding to my overall savings. The beef jerky lasts as long as we don’t eat it all. The fruit, I am then able to eat as a snack by the handful or added to baked goods, oatmeal or smoothies even after they are out of season.
To start making Easy Beef Jerky, you want to pick a very lean piece of meat. Fat, even though dehydrated, can reduce the duration of you storage, because the fat can go bad. I typically choose lean flank steak. I like the flavor and I can find it on sale pretty often. Other options are Eye of Round and Sirloin. Honestly, you can dry any meat, just pick one you would eat if it were cooked.
I call this Easy Beef Jerky because you prep it and leave it alone for 12 hours!
I generally cut the meat when it is still partially frozen. This allows me to cut the pieces thin and evenly. If you have a piece of defrosted meat, pop it in the freezer for an hour or two before cutting. You have a few choices now. If you want a chewy piece of jerky, slice it with the grain. If you want a piece that is easier to chew and easily broken into smaller pieces, then cut it against the grain. I usually cut pieces about 1/4 inch or slightly thicker.
Easy Beef Jerky
- 2 pounds beef, sliced
- 1-1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce I use coconut aminos
- 1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 cup liquid smoke
- 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes if you like it spicy, add more
- 2 Tablespoons onion powder
- 2 Tablespoons garlic powder
- 1-1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- Cut meat into thin slices
- Mix all marinade ingredients in a bowl, add sliced meat, toss to make sure all sides of the meat have been coated in marinade.
- Cover with plastic, place in fridge and let sit 2-24 hours.
- When marinated, pat meat dry with pieces of paper towel before placing on the dehydrator tray, making sure to leave an air gap between pieces of meat.
- Set dehydrator to 160 degrees and leave for at least 8 hours before checking for doneness. In most cases, it takes 12 or more hours. Again, it depends on the thickness of your meat. Enjoy!
Now you have options for flavors you would like. I do at least a few trays of the dehydrator with just salt and pepper. If you want to marinate your meat, you can leave it in marinade for up to 24 hours, just pat it dry before placing it onto the dehydrator tray. When placing on the tray, make sure to leave air between the strips of meat to allow air to properly circulate and dry the meat. Turn the dehydrator to 160 degrees, close it up and let it go for approximately 12 hours. If you cut it thicker, you will need to go longer. If when you check your Easy Beef Jerky, (take a piece out, let it cool before testing for doneness) and it bends easily, it needs more time in the dehydrator. It should crack when you try and bend or tear it. Again the drying times depend on the thickness of your meat. I want you to give this a try. You will be amazed at how easy this is to prepare and how much better it tastes than store bought! Enjoy friends!
We love Easy Beef Jerky. What is your favorite homemade snack?