MANHATTAN, Kan. – Meat and poultry can be among the more costly items in the grocery cart, but the least expensive per-pound price may not be the best bargain.
“Lean (and boneless) meats can be more costly per pound, but usually offer more value for your money,” said Mary Meck Higgins, K-State Research and Extension nutrition specialist, who advised considering the cost-per-serving before buying.
One pound of lean boneless meat will typically yield about 12 ounces (four three-ounce servings) after cooking, Higgins said. A cut with bone, gristle or fat will typically cost less per pound, but more per serving, because of waste.
Rib and loin cuts are tender cuts that lend themselves to quick cooking, such as stir-frying, broiling or grilling.
Tougher cuts of lean meats – such as chuck, round, flank, plate, shank or brisket – often are a very good value, said Higgins, who recommended cooking these cuts slowly in liquid until they’re tender.
Marinating less tender meats also enhances their tenderness, and adds flavor, she said.
Buying ground beef in bulk usually offers a savings, but dividing a larger purchase into family-friendly portions for cooking or freezing is recommended.
To reduce over-the-counter cost, assemble kabobs or shape patties yourself, and look for reduced-price tags that signal meat and poultry products that will need to be cooked within one to two days of purchase, she said.
Buying at sale prices is recommended, but only if quantities can be reasonably used or frozen for future meals, said Higgins, who also recommended doubling or tripling a recipe and freezing the extras for future meals.
With poultry, the nutrition specialist recommends cooking a whole bird.
Roast chicken and turkey generally offer good value, said Higgins, who noted that after roasting a whole bird, a family can freeze the extra portions and stretch their food dollars with cost-saving sandwiches, salads and casseroles.
More information on food, nutrition, health, managing food costs and basic cooking, meal and menu planning is available at local K-State Research and Extension offices and online at K-State's Human Nutrition and Rapid Response Center.