Before you go shopping for protein, bone up on some important tips on how to buy meat for your specific cooking needs. There is a difference in what to look for in each type of meat, whether it’s beef, pork, lamb or veal.
- You’ll need to decide how much you’ll need. This may determine the cut of meat you can afford.
- Work up a budget before you go shopping. Otherwise you may wind up in sticker shock when the cashier rings up your order.
- Choose the cut of meat you need to purchase. Prime is the most expensive and tender of all cuts of beef. It has more marbling (fat) running in threads throughout the meat than the other cuts. This is one of the best meats to buy for steaks—particularly if you need to impress someone. Choice is the second best, and it is leaner than prime. Most supermarkets and grocery stores carry choice meats. The select cut is often used for stews and slow cooking because it tends to be tougher than the other two. Lower grades, such as standard and commercial have less marbling. This means you’ll be chewing a lot.
- When buying pork, check the dates on the packages and choose the freshest cuts. The bones should be lighter in color than the meat. The meat should have a sheen.
- Lamb should be light red or pink with some fat running through it. Whether you buy lamb chops, leg of lamb or the shoulder, only purchase the freshest, most current dated meat.
- Look for veal that is firm with white fat. Since veal doesn’t keep as long as beef, you’ll want to buy the freshest cuts you can find.
It isn’t difficult to learn how to buy meat that is delicious and will work for your recipes. After you experiment with different types of meats and cuts, you’ll know what you like for the future.