A Butcher's Guide to Saving Money on Beef

Butcher's guide to buying meat
Butcher's guide to buying meat

Americans have a love affair with beef. Whatever the occasion may be, the average American eats about 200 pounds of meat a year, much of it beef. Good beef can get very expensive; however, these tips straight from the butcher can save you big bucks.

How to Pick a Great Cut of Meat at the Lowest Cost:

First, don’t overlook even the least expensive cuts of beef. Even the toughest cuts can be remarkably tender and flavorful with the right preparation.

The Least Expensive Cuts of Beef Are:

  • Chuck / chuck eye
  • Shoulder
  • Flank
  • Skirt
  • Hanger
  • Top / bottom round
  • Brisket

Sometimes you’ll see other names for the same cuts (e.g. hanger steak also called “butcher’s steak”). Ask your butcher for recommendations and be honest about your budget.

Focus on the Flavor of the Meat

Muscle tissue and fibers have very little flavor. Most of the flavor comes from the fat. Often the cheaper cuts have more natural flavor. It’s just a matter of how you prepare them. So…

Use a Slow-Cooker for the Tougher Fattier Cuts

This is a perfect time to start using your crock-pot! This device is ideal for making tougher cuts tender and flavorful. Try cooking brisket, chuck roast, oxtail and even shanks low and slow in your crock-pot. Add your favorite veggies and spices, set it before you leave for work and come home to a delicious meal!

Skip the Tenderloin

Look to chuck, Delmonico or sirloin steaks. They may take a bit longer to cook but the results will be more flavor and less cost. Save your fillet mignon fix for a special treat at your favorite steakhouse.

Buy a Roast and Cut Your Own Steaks

Instead of buying a round steak, try getting an entire roast instead. It’s usually 15-20% cheaper per pound and then cut it yourself to the thickness you want (in fact any butcher will cut it for you). You can then refrigerate it for 2-4 days and then freeze the rest for up to 6 months.

Buy in Bulk

If you have the luxury of owning a dedicated freezer, buy in bulk. (e.g. 80 lbs to 350 lbs). There are many local sources. Just Google bulk beef in your area.

Stock up During Sales

Many supermarkets have a special “on sale” shelf. Make sure to check the “use by” date as sales are often on the meat near expiration. Cook quickly Keep in mind to freeze the rest to really take advantage of the deals.