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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.”
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.
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.)