It’s no secret that shopping for beef can be a little intimidating without some experience. There are SO many different cuts, so many labels, so many options. If I’m being real with you all, it wasn’t until a few years after college that I really started to learn all the different cuts of beef (well) and how I should prepare them (adulting is hard sometimes!). Because I feel like shopping for beef can be somewhat of a daunting task, I’m going to try to break it down for you so you can make your decisions quickly and move on to the side dishes. Let’s break it down.
1- Don’t let the labels scare you into purchasing more expensive beef. Buy what you like! As a beef producer, I sometimes shake my head at how companies label food (including beef). It’s confusing. First off, regardless of the label, you can have full confidence that all beef in the meat case is a SAFE and nutritious choice for you and your family. Simply put, the food safety sector of our food supply is substantial. If you want to understand more, here are the many different federal agencies who share a hand in keeping our food safe. When I buy beef at the grocery store (because we don’t always have home grown beef in the freezer), I typically buy the brands with the least amount of special claims and the highest quality grade I can afford. But the beauty is, as the consumer, it’s your choice! Do you prefer the taste of grass finished? Did you find a great cut on sale? Is there a special cut you want to serve for date night? (My vote is for a New York!) Bottom line: it’s ok to choose based simply on your taste preference and budget… no guilt involved!
2- Beef on a budget? It’s totally possible! Don’t have extra income to feed your family a prime filet but still want to serve beef for dinner? There are SO many cuts that are affordable and delicious. If you buy a less expensive cut, a lot of your success will lie in the preparation. This will come with some practice, but to get you started, here is an extremely helpful resource, that I use on-the-regular. This website allows you to first choose the method in which you want to prepare your beef and from there it offers you a list of cuts that are best for that method! Easy peasy, right? You can also work this backwards. If you find something on sale, grab it, and then check out the website above for your options on how to prepare.
3- It helps t0 know the different quality grades of meat. From highest to lowest: Prime, choice, select. These are the three that you will see in the grocery store. My local grocery store sells mostly choice with some prime and some select options. Prime graded beef is typically what you will find in your fancy steakhouses. The higher the quality grade, the more marbling in the meat, and the higher the cost. If you’re looking for beef on a budget, choice and select is where you’ll want to live.
4- Marbling (fat) brings out the flavor in beef! This may be obvious to most, but the reason that prime cut above tastes so dang good is because of the marbling (or intramuscular fat).
5- Beef fits into a healthy diet. Did you know that about half the fat in beef is monounsaturated fat called oleic acid… the same heart-healthy fat found in olive oil?! Yes, you read that correctly, beef can and should be a staple in a healthy diet! Also, it’s one of the best sources of zinc, iron, and protein along with seven other nutrients. One serving of beef contains about half of your Daily Value for protein in around 170 calories on average. So don’t be afraid to eat that steak!
Have some more tips to add to the list? Let me know in the comments below!
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