Meat is plentiful and often is a lead item in supermarket advertising. It always has a per pound price and is somewhat descriptive in its cut, sometimes even pinpointing fat content. When you shop, there are many aspects to be considered:
- What minimum weight, if any, needs to be purchased to obtain the lowest price? Markets typically impose a 3-pound weight purchase to get the best deal. However, sometimes packages are made that may actually have less weight and still offer the better per pound price. Examine as many as are displayed if you don’t require a large amount. If you buy a large amount, consider freezing some to use at a later date.
- Check the freshness date on every meat package. They’re clearly marked with a used by or sell by date for freshness. Markets routinely mark down items as they approach their sell by dates, and usually mark them down the evening before or morning of that date. These items are perfectly safe to purchase and will save you money, as much as 50% of the purchase price. If you’re looking for something to use right away, shopping for this type of item will save you significantly. If you see an item that hasn’t been marked down, but falls just before or on the sell by date, ask the butcher if they will take that price reduction right now for you. You will find that 9 times out of 10 they will do so.
- See if a larger cut of meat will provide you with a better deal. If you buy a large beef cut, for example, ask the butcher to cut up the meat into portions, such as ground beef or a pot roast or steaks. If done this way, there can be significant savings versus buying these cuts individually. Also use the butcher’s services to save yourself some time. Let’s say you buy a full bone-in pork shoulder. Have the butcher remove the bone (you can use it for stock/soup), trim excess fat, and/or cut the meat in half for two reasonable-sized pieces.
- Tougher cuts of meat can be quite a bit less expensive than their more tender counterparts. These tougher cuts are ideal for cooking in your slow cooker (such as a Crock-Pot) where long cooking times and liquid help to tenderize the meat. Just remember to always sear the meat before putting it in the slow cooker for the best flavor and find slow cooker specific recipes to make sure you have the right proportion of liquid. For example, try this Peppered Beef Shank in Red Wine.
- The best day for selection is always the first day of the store promotions, usually beginning on Sundays or Fridays. Check your supermarket flyers, ads, or websites to make sure you know when the sales start.
- Never buy an item just because it’s on sale, but take the opportunity to buy what you need when the prices are reduced. Buy often to insure freshness, or plan to freeze your purchases.