Shopping Begins At Home
- Shop the ads. See what’s on sale. Take note of when ads break, so you can compare pricing and find the best deals offered for your favorite items.
- Supply and demand drive deals, so typical cold-weather items are more likely to be on sale in the summer.
- Be creative when planning your menu.
High and Low Options- Substitutable Cuts
High: Tenderloin Filet – #1 in tenderness, but lacks some flavor and doesn’t perform well if overcooked.
Low: Flat Iron Steak- #2 in tenderness, but has good flavor and is more forgiving when cooked to upper ends of doneness.
High: Boneless Ribeye Steak – premium-priced, well-marbled, flavorful steak.
Low: Boneless Chuck Eye Steak – Consists of the same muscles as the ribeye but is less expensive at almost half the price.
High: Kabob and Stir Fry Meat- It is typically more expensive to account for the labor involved in preparing the meat.
Low: Boneless Top Sirloin Steak – Less expensive alternative that you can easily cut at home and ensure a good product. Look for a thick 1 1/2” steak.
High: Baby Back Ribs – High in demand, making them higher in price.
Low: St. Louis Style Ribs – A less expensive alternative. Ask your meat cutter to cut them down the middle lengthwise.
High: Kabob and Stir Fry Meat – It is typically more expensive to account for the labor involved in preparing the chicken.
Low: Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast – Reduce your cost by cutting at home. A poultry knife is an important tool in your butcher kit.
Meat Case Layout
Meat case layouts will vary depending on the type of store (i.e., upscale markets or butcher shops have very service-driven meat departments, whereas other retailers may focus more on an extensive offering in a self-service format.)
- Full-service meat cases typically offer the same product as the self-service case but may also feature some higher-end cuts.
- The meat case should be clean and well organized.
- Meat cases are usually arranged by protein and next by cooking method.
- Many meat cases now have cooking instructions available. You may also ask your meat clerk or cutter for cooking methods and flavor ideas.
Read the Labels
Labels provide essential information to help you make good purchasing decisions.
- Type of meat (beef, pork, lamb)
- Part of the animal it is cut from (chuck, rib, loin, round, etc.)
- Form (thick, thin, steak, roast)
- Sell-by date
Other descriptors: Organic, Natural, Antibiotic Free, etc. (Stay away from words like “faux” or “mock” – these cuts are not tender.)
All fresh meat qualifies as natural. The USDA defines “natural” as:
★ Products that contain no artificial ingredients or added colors
★ Minimally processed means that the product was processed in a manner that does not fundamentally alter the product.
★ The label must include a statement explaining the meaning of the term natural (such as “no artificial ingredients; minimally processed”).
The National Organic Program (NOP) is a regulatory program housed within the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service. They are responsible for developing national standards for organically-produced agricultural products. These standards assure consumers that the USDA organic seal products meet consistent, uniform standards. The USDA regulations do not address food safety or nutrition.
★ Products used in meat animal production must come from certified organic farms.
★ The land must be clean of pesticides and chemicals, Non-GMO starter seed.
★ The corn or feed additives must be organic.
★ Animals do not receive growth enhancers or antibiotics.
Now hit the butcher case and ask questions!