Smart Shopping: Find Cheaper Chicken at the Meat Counter

(Image credit: Kathryn Hill)

Chicken is not something that I usually go to the meat counter to find. Pork chops, short ribs, and steaks, yes. But not chicken. That is, until a happy coincidence taught me otherwise.

It was one of those afternoons at the grocery store where everything seemed out of stock. The refrigerator case was nearly empty and the chicken that was left looked…not appealing. I had friends coming for dinner later and didn’t relish the thought of going to another store.

That’s when my eye caught the meat counter display. There were the chicken breasts I needed, perfectly arranged in neat rows and looking plump and healthy.

I figured this had to be some kind of special chicken and likely to be exponentially more expensive than the chicken sold in packages. But in fact, it was cheaper. Significantly cheaper.

I asked the person at the counter and he explained that the meat department buys chicken parts in bulk for making things like stuffed chicken breasts and barbecue wings for grilling. They always have leftover meat and sell this beside the prepared foods. He also said that it was the exact same meat that is sold in the packages and comes from the same company, it’s just cheaper because it’s bought in bulk.

Well, color me impressed! I had him wrap up three pounds of chicken breasts for my recipe and was on my way. Bonus: I had exactly the amount of meat I needed, and I wouldn’t have to adjust the recipe or deal with leftover meat.

My advice from this experience is to check the prices at your meat counter before buying the packaged meat and ask questions about where the store gets it. You might just land yourself a bargain.