Save Money on Beef Cuts by Knowing Which Cut to Buy

Wooden cutting board with beef cutWhile  looking through our local grocery store ad, I wondered which cuts of beef (that were on sale) could be used for a recipe I was going to use. 

So how can knowing the right cut of beef save money?  Let’s assume that I would like to use my slow  cooker to make a beef roast with carrots and potatoes (good assumption!). This week, my local store has Boneless Bottom Round Roast on sale for $3.29 a pound.  Knowing that it is perfect as a pot roast (a method of cooking the meat slowly in a covered dish with a small amount of water, broth, or other liquid) allows me to take advantage of this sale price and successfully make a great meal (or meals!)

Generally, my store sells these roasts in 2-3 lb packages.  If I plan on about 1 lb per meal for the two of us, then this roast will make one dinner,plus a second dinner of leftovers, and one or more lunches for my husband. 

We grow our own potatoes and onions, so I would only need to buy carrots to finish out my slow cooker roast.  I pay about $1.00 a pound for organic carrots (about .89 a pound for non-organic) at our Martin’s grocery store. 

So with this sale, I could make at least two delicious, low-effort meals for about $4.50 a meal. (Just an estimate since I won’t use a whole pound of carrots, but I might add a couple of biscuits or maybe some fruit, or a small salad,  or a bit of dessert.)

However, on the same note, I might have had a bit of culinary disaster if I had purchased this bottom round roast for roasting in the oven for an hour or so.  It would likely have turned out tough and dry.  Not what I intended, especially if I was cooking it for company!

Oddly, on the flip side, if I had splurged on a tender Top Sirloin Steak ($7.98 a pound this week)  and cooked it in the slow cooker, I could easily have ended up with a dry, chewy meal.  The Top Sirloin is best cooked by grilling or broiling.  It’s low fat content means it will probably be quite dry when slow cooked, even when cooked in liquid.  What a waste of an expensive cut of beef!  I would have spent over twice as much and gotten a much less delicious meal.

As you can see, you can save money on beef cuts when you know which cut to buy for which recipe or method of cooking.

There are many  great reference sites for cuts of beef steaks (round, sirloin, chuck, New York Strip, T-bone, etc).  This site has charts that give a description, a photo, the natural tenderness of the cut, and best of all, the alternate names that the cut is sometimes called. 

The charts answer my questions and shows which beef cuts are best marinaded first, which can be pan-fried, grilled, broiled, and which ones become tough when overcooked, and which ones are best braised or broiled. 

For example, a boneless chuck shoulder steak, normally a bit tough, can make a tender and flavorful meal if it is marinated overnight and not overcooked.

As another example, if you are going to make hamburgers, you will get a much better result with the less expensive 80% lean ground beef.  The extra-lean ground beef will not only cost more, but it will cook up dry and chewy. 

We don’t eat red meat too often, so having a guide to help me pick out the right beef cuts is perfect.   Now when I see a type of beef meat on sale, I can  decide whether it will really be a good bargain and how to cook it  to make a delicious meal for my family.

How about you?  What is your favorite cut of beef for an economical and flavorful meal? 

Here are the links to some of the references and charts:–357/selecting-beef-cuts.asp–340/beef-steaks.asp

The above sites are from  Here is another example of a good reference.

Also try and – there are many good sites with information on cuts of beef.

Here’s to good cooking at great prices!  That’s The Fat Dollar way.

Photo courtesy of Fabio Bueno at 
Article has been updated from the original.

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