# 1: Buy The Whole Chicken Instead Of Its Parts
It seems convenient to buy a tray of chicken breasts or thighs at the grocery store, but when price is a consideration, the whole bird is way more cost effective because there is no added cost slapped on for the butchering.
# 2: Choose Bone-In Over Boneless
By the same token, boneless meat, like a pork chop or a rib-eye, will always cost more than bone-in, and so will the pre-cut, diced meat you can buy to make a particular sort of dish. Any meat that needed extra attention from the butcher, in other words, will be factored into the price.
# 3: Experiment With Lesser Known Cuts
Nobody understands meat as well as butchers, and any one of them will tell you that customers often ignore many of the cheaper cuts because they wrongly assume that low cost means inferior meat. Like collar and shoulder of pork or beef underblade and chuck eye.
Ask your butcher for some recommendations and they will gladly lead you through these `misunderstood’ selections in the case. They will also tell you how to cook them for the very best results, and chances are that after the first try, you’ll happily cross all those filet mignons off your weekly grocery shopping list.
Here are some pointers on substituting good but cheaper cuts for expensive ones:
• Choose a faux fillet if you love beef tenderloin.
• Choose beef shank if you love short ribs.
• Choose a chuck steak if you love rib-eye.
• Choose a merlot steak if you love flank steak.
• Choose a sirloin chop if you like pork rib chops.
• Choose Fresh Coppa (also known as pork collar) if you love pork loin.
• Choose a shoulder or blade chop if you love lamb rib chops.
• Choose a lamb neck if you love lamb shank.
• Choose a sirloin roast if you love a leg of lamb.
# 4: Don’t Buy The Expensive Middle Meats
Middle meats run along the spine area, from the 5th rib to the pelvis. Common beef cuts from this area, for example, are porterhouse, rib-eye, T-bone and New York strip steaks. In pork, they are loin chops, center-cut and ribs. In sheep, they are rib, rack, loin and saddle chops.
Middle meats are the most lucrative part of a carcass and a lot more expensive. Look beyond the middle cuts therefore to flavorful areas just outside it to choose your cuts from. Like shoulder chops in lamb and pork. Chuck or sirloin steaks in beef.
# 5: Have The Deli Meat Shaved
Ask the deli counter clerk to `shave’ your choices of meat. Shaving gives you thinner slices, and not only do you get more pieces on the pound, they’re very flavorful on toasted sandwiches and help cut calories too!
# 6: Dice Instead Of Cube
Dicing gives you smaller pieces than cubing, and makes the meat go a longer way. Works particularly well with pre-cooked meats like roasted chicken breast, honey-baked turkey and smoked ham.
# 7: Buy Braising Or Roasting Cuts
Example: shanks, hocks, breasts, briskets etc. While these cuts are cheaper, they do require a lot of cooking time. That said, they also dobreak down during the cooking to provide an unctuous sauce that enriches any dish. And of course, they’re a whole lot cheaper than single-portion cuts like steaks and chops.
# 8: Older Animals Can Also Produce Good Meat
People tend not to buy meat from an older animal for fear that the meat will have poor texture and lack flavor. But with the right husbandry and postmortem conditions, they do make splendid, flavorful cuts. Sourcing may well be a problem in cities, but if you do come across older animal meat, don’t discount them right out of hand.
# 9: Don’t Be Afraid Of Going To A Butcher
Whether you’re trying to economize on meat or not, having a butcher for a best friend is a proven secret of always eating well. Most butchers enjoy their trade and love to share knowledge, tips and ideas on how to get the most out of a particular cut of meat. And since they butcher a whole carcass, they have a wide selection of inexpensive but great tasting meat that you would have never known existed.