8 Secrets for Getting the Best Meat (and Deals) from the Butcher

Beefing up dinners has never been easier with these meat-counter tips from butchers.

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High angle portrait of smiling butcher cutting meat at counter in butchery
Shutterstock / Tyler Olson

Don’t settle—ask

If you don’t see what you’re looking for in the prepackaged section or even in the butcher case, ask your butcher to cut what you’re looking for. Whether you want a little fat cut off, your chuck ground, or even slice your steak into smaller pieces, you can usually ask and receive. These are the best cuts of meat you didn’t know you could ask for.

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Confident female butcher smiling with arms crossed at butchery
Shutterstock / Kzenon

Buy more than meat

Looking to make your own bone broth at home? You’ll need soup bones to get you started. Talk with your butcher to get the bones from short ribs and beef shanks—both perfect for making homemade broth and stock (and, yes, there is a difference!). While you’re at it, ask your butcher if they can cut you any deals on these bones (which might go to waste otherwise) or if you can get a discount by buying in bulk.

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Young butcher cutting meat to sell at a butcher's shop
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Bigger cuts = bigger savings

Oftentimes, buying in bulk means better prices per pound. See if your butcher offers these sorts of discounts on whole top sirloin or whole chuck. At home, be sure to store your meat properly in the freezer to avoid freezer burn.

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Young woman in butchers shop
Shutterstock / Ana Ado

Reach in the back

Just as you might when shopping for milk, eggs and other perishables, reach to the back of the shelf. That’s where you’ll find the freshest pre-cut meats. These are less likely to have been frozen and thawed, or treated with anything else to prolong their shelf life. You can also check in with your butcher about when their shipments come in to ensure you get the freshest cuts around. They’ll be happy to help!

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Two butchers cutting meat to sell at a butcher's shop
Shutterstock / Monkey Business Images

Creative cuts do exist

You might have to find the right butcher, but there are creative cuts outside of your classic chops and roasts. Talk to your butcher about what you’re looking for price-, flavor- and texture-wise—they should be able to point you in the right direction.

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Couple shopping in a supermarket
Shutterstock / Minerva Studio

Understand labeling

Before you make your purchase, understand what you’re getting and familiarize yourself with not only the cuts of meat available, but the way they are labeled. The USDA quality grade label is a great guide. The “prime” label is likely only going to be found in specialty shops, and carries a heftier price tag, followed by “choice,” “select” and “standard.”

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Experienced butcher shop assistant cutting ham to sell it
Shutterstock / Kzenon

Cut costs by skipping the fancy cuts

If you feel comfortable with a knife in your kitchen, skip the pre-prepped cuts at your butcher. You might be able to score a better deal. Next time you’re itching to throw kabobs on the grill, or are craving a bone-in ribeye, ask for a piece of top sirloin and cube away or a chuck eye steak for the perfect ribeye.

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friendly male butcher selling packed meat to customer in butchery
Shutterstock / michaeljung

They’re there to help you

They wouldn’t be a butcher if they weren’t knowledgeable about their craft, so ask away! Not sure what cut of meat is right for your recipe? Wondering if they can get something special in for you? Ask away! Being friendly can get you pretty far. (And skip these butcher shop no-no’s.)

Jacqueline Weiss
Jacqueline is a blogger and writer, passionate about sharing the latest in helpful tips and trends in food and cooking. In her spare time, you’ll find her trying new restaurants and experimenting in the kitchen.