Saving money at the grocery store meat counter is easy, just follow a few simple tips and tricks. The basics of cutting your own meat are not hard. That is not to suggest that you would want to butcher a side of beef in your kitchen, but cutting up a large roast can be a real saving.
Start at the grocery store, look at the cuts your butcher has available. The difference between a large roast, and a steak, beyond size is price. That same steak that you pay 6.99 a pound for came from a roast that you would pay 4.99 a pound for. Go ahead and get the large roast, cut off some steaks, and maybe some stew meat, the rest can be a nice roast for another night. You will need to consider how much bone is in the piece of meat you are purchasing. Bones can make it harder to cut into steaks, since you will need to saw through bones to cut it up the way you want.
Don’t be afraid to ask the butcher if he has a 10 or 12-pound roast available, usually, the butcher will be more than willing to accommodate you. Learning the various cuts of meat is to your advantage. A 7 bone roast, while usually inexpensive can be cooked in a limited number of ways. On the other hand, sirloin is more expensive, but you will have a greater variety of cooking options.
When you get your roast home, plan on cutting it up immediately. When cutting steaks, cut across the grain for the most tender steak possible. If you want thick steaks then stick with 1 to 2 inch thick slices. If you want a thin breakfast or sandwich steaks, then partially freezing the meat is the best option. This will enable you to control the thickness a little easier.
When cutting stew meat, it is better to cut a thick slice and dice that. You can also trim your roast so it fits in your roasting pan. Remember to leave some fat on the roast, steaks and stew meat for flavor, since most of the flavor is in the fat.
Cutting up a chicken is simple, but make sure you look at the price of pieces before you purchase. Sometimes it is cheaper to by leg quarters rather than a whole chicken. Cut the chicken in half, so you have breasts and thighs on one half, back, and wings on the other. Next cut the wings off, and cut the back in half. Cut the thighs off at the joint. If you move the thigh you should be able to feel the joint with your fingers. Cut the breast in half down the center, and if desired cut the halves across. If you like drumsticks rather than leg quarters cut the drumsticks off at the joint.
It will take some practice to get uniformly thick steaks, but the learning process will save you money. Enjoy your new-found skill, don’t be afraid to ask your butcher for advice. Many times they can help you choose the best cut for your money.