Beef Shopping Guide: Cheap Cuts and Cooking Guide

Beef Shopping Guide: Cheap Cuts and Cooking Guide

Faith Durand
Mar 13, 2009

Will you take our weekend cooking challenge and try a new cut of beef this weekend? (Or if you aren't eating beef, or meat at all, try a braised vegetable instead, to send winter out in style!)

We get nervous, though, about trying new cuts of beef, cheap or otherwise, because we often aren't sure how to cook them. Well, here is one more handy supermarket cheat sheet to help you choose.

If you're stuck in finding a new cut of beef to try, we recommend you go for the inexpensive ones. Sometimes the cheap cuts of meat are the tastiest — with a little extra fat and collagen they benefit from slow cooking.

And actually, this may be a good time to stock up on inexpensive beef. According to the Beef Checkoff, wholesale beef prices are at an all-time industry low. They say that restaurants are buying fewer high-end cuts of meat (since people are eating in more and eating out less) and as a result, there is increased supply of premium cuts available at supermarkets. Some grocery stores are offering premium cuts like T-bone and tenderloin steaks at their lowest prices of the year.

The more traditional cheap cuts are also very inexpensive right now. These include steak cuts from the chuck, round, plate and flank (shoulder steak, eye round steak, top round steak, skirt steak, flank steak). These benefit from tenderizing marinades.

One more cost saving tip: it helps to buy in bulk. Instead of buying pre-cut meat for kabobs, stew and stir-fry, save money by buying steaks or roasts and cutting into meat cubes or strips. Another approach is to purchase boneless roasts to cut into steaks. And actually, your grocery store or independent butcher will usually be happy to slice these up for you.

Regardless of which kind of meat you buy, this card from the Beef folks is a very handy guide to cooking methods. It helps to have something like this while shopping; do you need a quick dinner? Buy a stir-fry ready beef. Or if you're planning a slow roast, buy something recommended for that instead.

• Download the Beef Cooking Method Wallet Card

Related: Wallet Card: How To Safely Store and Defrost Beef

(Images: The Beef Checkoff; The Village Grocery)

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