The less expensive cuts tend to come from the front and hindquarters of the animal. This meat is tougher because it was the most exercised while the animal was still alive. For this reason, these cuts can be more difficult to cook and take longer to cook, hence they are often passed over in favor of marbled steaks and tenderloin. Ipso facto, they end up being less expensive per pound.
The other thing to keep in mind with these cheaper cuts is that you're getting a lot of bang for your buck. You might pay $10 or more for a pork shoulder while you pay $4 for a steak, but the dish you make from shoulder will stretch out into multiple meals.
This weekend, check the meat department at your grocery store and try one of these recipes!
Cuts of meat that are listed together can generally be used interchangeably in a recipe (like top, bottom, and eye rounds), unless specifically instructed otherwise.
Top, Bottom, or Eye Round - beef
• Grilled Balsamic Marinated London Broil with Red Onions from Epicurious
• Sauerbraten from Alton Brown and the Food Network
Related: Why Tougher Meats Make Good Braises
(Image: Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan for the Kitchn)