How to Save Money at the Meat Counter

How to Save Money at the Meat Counter
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How to Save Money at the Meat Counter

The Petite Tender Cut

For those who can’t get enough of steak au poivre, this is a great alternative version that gets you the same, mini portion and tender texture, but it only costs about $5 per pound.

Credit: Thinkstock/Hemera

Good Tools

First and foremost, Underly stresses that if you don’t have a good sharp knife and good cutting board. Dull knives will lead not only to injury but will literally butcher your meat, so make sure to invest in something that’ll get the job done well.

Credit: Shun Knives

Beef Chuck Roast

One of Underly’s favorite sections of the cow, this front portion contains the fourth-most tender muscle, and has some pretty amazing flavors as well.

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The Flat Iron Steak

Underly recommends getting the flat iron cut instead, which is the second-most tender cut and about half the price, at about $10 per pound. Underly likes this cut because it upholds its tenderness no matter how much you overcook it.

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The Round

The round is the leg of the animal, and accounts for about 24 percent of the weight of the cow. Underly suggests going for cuts from the whole top round because theyre often the leaner, less tender parts and therefore cost less.

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The Art of Beef Cutting

OK, this isn’t one that Underly gave us, but we have to include it on our list because we truly do find it helpful when pinching pennies. While it is targeted toward the merchandiser and how to save money selling meat, we think it comes in handy when buying as well.

Credit: Kari Underly


Let's face it: there are some of us who avoid buying meat not because we're vegetarians, but because we can't afford it. Many people can't seem to reason with the cost of some meats at the butcher counter these days, especially with beef, and therefore shy away from enjoying a carnivorous meal. We were determined to prove that expensive meats don't have to be the only option, and to get to the cost-cutting facts, we spoke with third-generation meat cutter Kari Underly, founder of Range Inc. and author of The Art of Beef Cutting: A Meat Professional's Guide to Butchering and Merchandising.

Click here to see the How to Save Money at the Meat Counter Slideshow

The book, a James Beard nominated piece, is targeted toward the butchering industry but is loaded with lots of tips and advice for the home cook as well. Detailed and expansive, it covers every tendon and muscle found in a cow, and helps to familiarize readers with the different cuts of meat available.

With that being said, we'd like to point out that the book is for professionals, and a lot of it covers merchandising and how to better price your meat case. We flipped through it and looked at it from the consumer perspective with Underly, and she gave us some pretty simple and easy tips that'll help you make cost-saving decisions when buying meat. Craving filet mignon? No problem; but rather than spending the extra dough on the tiny piece of meat, Underly suggests buying a different cut that'll give you the same tenderness and flavor. Along with substitutions, Underly uncovered some rare cuts of meat that were new to us, are as flavorful and delicious as the popular cuts, and cost little to nothing. So if you're a meat lover who battles with the prices every day, these tips from butchery expert Underly will help you start putting the meat out on the table more often — and may even help you impress your local butcher as well.

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