Buying meat is a process that includes picking the kind of meat that you want, then placing it in your basket for purchase. Next time you buy beef, these tips on how to shop for meat at the market will help with getting higher-quality beef cuts for your money:
Refrain from buying seasoned beef. Seasoning can cover up bad cuts of meat. For instance, if the meat holds a lot of gristle or tendon, this can easily be covered up with seasoning. Even more, customers pays extra for seasoning. This means that you pay extra to get a bad cut of meat. This is a double win for the meat market. Seasoning your own meat can help save money and disappointment.
Avoid over-tenderized cuts. When buying the tenderized cuts that you enjoy using for country- fried steaks, you might buy into the illusion of the perforation marks that the tenderizing machine makes on the meat. While the perforations can help make the steak tender, the perforations often hide a bad cut of meat. Meat markets sometimes take cuts that hold excessive gristle and/or tendon and fold these over to hide the bad part, sending it through the tenderizing machine again. This process causes the meat and the gristle/tendons to blend together. The more the steak is perforated, the better you might think it will be in terms of tenderness, but the extra perforation actually hides an inferior-quality steak.
Beware of unevenness in steak thickness. You might think that such unevenness means extra steak. Sometimes, it means extra fat, gristle, and/or tendon. If the steak seems thicker in the package (on any part of the package) than the other steaks, this gives you another clue that the package holds a bad cut. You want to look closely before buying.
Look for how the cut flows with the grain. If the steak is cut with the grain, rather than against the grain, the steak will be stringy. You need to always look for beef that is cut against the grain for tenderness. It will save you a great deal of chewing.
Stay away from chubs. Hamburger meat is often packaged in chubs, packages that you cannot see through and have metal closings at the end. Often the lower grade hamburger meat goes into these chubs. You need to buy packages that provide visibility so that you know what you are buying.
Watch for the inside of the hamburger meat. Some meat markets unwrap the unsold hamburger meat from the day before and mix it with new. They then repackage it at the same cost, rather than giving the customers a discount for buying older meat. When you use a package of hamburger meat, you want to look for uneven coloring. If you find uneven coloring, you need to find another meat market.
Buy reduced hamburger. Some meat markets actually do the right thing and reduce the price of hamburger meat that fails to sell the day before. You can often get $1 to $2 off these reduced-price hamburger meat packages. Make sure that the date on the meat is no older than a few days old. Too, don’t buy any reduced-price hamburger meat chubs.
Pay close attention to steak coloring. Darkening meat indicates age. While an older steak can bring about a more tender steak, customers need not pay the same price for older meat. If the meat holds an older date than other meats, you can ask the meat market for a reduction in price. If the meat is clearly darkening, but the date is current, the meat market could be repackaging (and relabeling) older meat to keep from giving customers a discount.