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Fall in Love with the Meat Case


Fall in Love with the Meat Case

By Cristen Clark, Iowa Food and Family Project

A trip to any grocery store’s meat department in the Midwest is as good as it gets! Mouth-watering steaks, chops, roasts and ground meat products line the glass case and ensure endless possibilities for mealtime. However, with choice comes decision making that can feel overwhelming… especially if you don’t have a detailed meal plan or are stepping outside of your recipe comfort zone.  

I spoke with my local meat case manager to pull together a few tips and tricks that will help you purchase and prepare great-tasting proteins with ease. By asking questions and relying on experts, you’ll be sure to fall in love with your in-store experience and home-cooked meals.

[Cristen Clark selects a steak at the meat counter. Photo credit Joseph L. Murphy.]

Cristen Clark selects a steak at the meat counter. Photo credit Joseph L. Murphy.

Five Tips for Mastering the Meat Case

Get help selecting the proper cut of meat. Every meat counter is different, but in each, you should find experienced staff who have been trained to guide customers. If you share your recipe or cooking vision, they can advise you on the proper cut for any protein.

Buy in bulk, then have it cut and packaged. Often you can find a great deal on a larger cut of meat that can be cut down into individual steaks, chops or roasts. The meat department staff will happily cut the bulk order into smaller portions and wrap them for you.

Ask for custom cuts of meat. Don’t be afraid of asking for exactly what you want, for example, a smaller roast or thinner steaks. The staff is there to help you have the best eating experience possible. If you see a tremendous looking pork chop that is 2 inches thick but really wanted 1-inch thick chops, have them slice the chops up for you. Their knives are sharper than yours and they do this every day!

Swap expensive cuts for less expensive cuts. If you are swooning over the bone-in ribeye steak but have a budget to adhere to, have the butcher cut some chuck eye steaks for you. The chuck eye steak is sliced from the area right next to the ribeye and can be more affordable.

When in doubt, just ask! The meat department staff’s goal is to help you choose the right cut of meat. If you have questions, be sure to ask them so they can help you have the best in-store and cooking experience.

Inspiration for Your Next Meat Case Visit

If you purchase a Beef Arm Chuck Roast, try this recipe for Gochujang Beef Banh Mi Sandwiches.

Snag some Country Style Pork Ribs and try this Carolina barbeque inspired recipe.

Grab some ground turkey and try Ground Turkey Lettuce Wraps.

Source: Iowa Food and Family Project