Earlier this month, we discussed the powerful protein food group in all of its glory. This post takes a deeper dive into the meats of the protein food group, detailing which meats are the cheaper cuts of meat. If you’re doing what you can to stretch your grocery budget, you know that meat can be extremely pricy.
Inexpensive cuts of meat are typically less tender than their expensive counterparts, and they usually will need a bit more time and preparation. This does not mean, however, that you can’t create a delicious meal with cheaper cuts of meat.
1. Whole Chicken
Chicken is versatile, inexpensive, and easy to prepare. Purchasing chicken whole is cheaper per pound than purchasing it already prepared in a form like chicken thighs or breasts.
When purchasing whole chicken, you can intend to cook it whole, or you can cut it up yourself into its respective parts. This guide by Rachel Rozsmann is a great one to check out if you are new to cutting whole chicken into its parts.
2. Beef or Pork Ribs
When purchasing beef or pork ribs, you want to look for ones that have a large amount of meat, and a small amount of fat. The fat keeps the meat moist as it cooks, but you do not want too much of it on there.
At minimum, half of the weight of the ribs are bone, so try to get ribs that have fewer bones and more meat for the price. Check out this guide to purchasing ribs.
3. Chicken Thighs
If you prefer pre-cut chicken over purchasing whole-chicken, chicken thighs are your way to go.
Chicken thighs are often more flavorful and less expensive than their more commonly sought after counterparts, the chicken breast. Chicken thighs are an extremely versatile meat that can be prepared in numerous ways.
4. Lamb Breast
Lamb is a wonderful grilling meat. The downside is that good lamb meat can be hard to find, and expensive. Lamb breast is cut from the rib section of the lamb, is full of flavor, and is cheaper than lamb-loin chops.
Let the lamb breast sit in a strong marinade for several hours before cooking to combat the toughness of the meat. If your piece is thin, cook it hot and fast. If it is a thicker piece, cook it low and slow.
5. Chuck Eye Steak
Chuck steaks are an economical alternative to more expensive steak, like ribeye or New York strip. Be aware, however, that this cut of meat is not as tender as the other options, so they will strongly benefit from a good marinade.
Marinades make the meat much juicer when cooked, combatting the toughness the steak innately contains. It is important to avoid overcooking chuck steaks, as they are juiciest at medium rare.
6. Whole Turkey
Turkeys are overlooked outside of the holidays. Turkey is an economical meat that can feed a lot of people, with numerous methods of preparation.
It is similar to chicken in that it is the best deal to purchase it whole and cut it yourself if that’s how you would like to have it. Keep your eye out for fresh, whole turkey, as this is a healthy, economical meat option.
7. Flat Steak
Flat steaks include three types of steaks: flank, skirt, and hanger. They are a good deal to purchase because of their versatility. Although they are tougher cuts of beef, they can be softened up by marinating.
To get the most bang for your buck out of these steaks, thinly slice them and serve them in dishes like pastas, fajitas or tacos, or salad. This way, the meat is stretched and becomes a meal for many.
8. Pork Shoulder
Pork shoulder cuts are among the least expensive cuts of pig. It is one of the toughest pieces, but the secret is to cook them low and slow.
Make sure to set aside enough time, as cooking a four-to-seven-pound piece can take all day. They are good options for a pork roast and for smoking into a barbeque pulled pork.