With my schedule, I need my meals to be planned out, or I’ll end up getting fast food all the time. I’ve been bringing my food to work most days, or eating dinner at home. I’m always looking for new places to get food that will last, and I've been doing more meal prep.

Despite the fact that I attended the U of I for both undergrad and graduate school, I’d never been to the Meat Science Lab until now. The Meat Science Lab, also known as the Meat and Egg Sales Room, has tricky hours to keep up with, so I had to stop by on a break from work. I stopped in thinking I would get some chicken thighs that I could cook up in my crock-pot, and already had a recipe in mind. But when I walked in and looked around, I didn’t see any chicken. The employees then informed me that they only sell whole chicken, and that they were out for the day.

While a whole chicken would last for a few days, I had no intention of butchering a chicken. While browsing around, there were a lot of options for beef, pork, and sausage (eggs were out for the day as well). Because it was the end of the day, meats were displayed sparingly, but there was still a nice selection. The employees were all students — two animal science majors, and one food science major. They were friendly in assisting me with the right meats to fit the new recipes I had in mind.With my readjusted mindset on what I could purchase, I went for a pack of Andouille sausage (which comes with 6 links), ham, and a piece top sirloin. The sausage was $2.99 a pound, ham was $3.19 a pound, and the sirloin was $9.99 a pound. I spent a total of $16.25. 

First, I decided to cook the top sirloin. I love following food pages on Instagram to get more recipes and quick tips in the kitchen. So I put that to use and found a “healthy” beef and broccoli recipe. I cut the steak into long pieces and it was a good amount, still after cutting off some of the fat. I just got a .78 pound piece of steak because I usually don’t cook beef at home, but I wanted to try out this recipe. I cooked it over medium high heat until there was no pink. I paired the steak with broccoli, onion, garlic, ginger, and the sauce I made served over rice. I ate about a little more than a portion up front, and I still had leftovers for later in the week.

The ham was already cooked, and when I saw it, I immediately thought: breakfast. I decided to use some of this meat for a ham, spinach, and cheese omelet. I got a 1.14 pound piece of ham, so you can probably guess that there was still a lot left after I was finished. Because the ham was cooked, I just chopped it into bite-sized pieces, and put it on the pan with some spinach. I used a little less than a handful of chopped ham. This was quick, easy, and it tasted good too.

Lastly, for the Andouille sausage I decided to break out the crockpot. I tossed one and a half pieces of chopped sausage, butter beans, onion, bell pepper, and chicken broth into the pot and let it simmer for 6 hours. Butter beans are a great base to a dish because they will absorb flavor, so they pair well with the savory sausage. I loved this dish! It definitely fits my meal prep mission because you’re able to make however much or little you please in the crockpot. I used two cans of beans along with the other ingredients I mentioned before, so I had full crockpot.

The Meat Science Lab had a great selection of beef, pork, and sausage, and I’m excited to be creative and find recipes with the meat I have left over. My mission to meal prep through the week was a success!

Meat Science Laboratory
1503 S Maryland
Urbana
T and Th 1 to 5:30 p.m.
F 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Top photo by Jessica Hammie; all other photos by Anisa McClinton

*Editor's note: A previous version of the article incorrectly named the Meat Science Lab as the Meat and Science Lab.