Buying meat - help

Joined Apr 3, 2008
I am no expert on buying meat.  But I know a thing or two about how to buy meat, mostly by just looking and following my instinct.  Buying meat is a very important skill and I would like to teach my husband how to do - whenever I send him out to buy meat at the butcher he comes back with the sorriest meat you can imagine.  I'm talking about meat that is pale pink, full of gristle, overpriced, and when you taste it you feel sorry for the animal because it is obvious it did not have a happy life.

Any good websites I can pass along to him about how to buy meat?  He learns best when I show him visuals.  Also, how to explain to someone what to look for?
Joined Dec 9, 2010
I suggest you just get to know your butcher better (or make sure your butcher knows you).  Then you could call your butcher and place an order for your husband to be picked up.  If your butcher knows you well and interested in keeping your business, then his/her professional selections should suffice.  I wouldn't be afraid to complain either. No shame in making your butcher afraid of incurring your wrath if he/she gives you husband poor choices of meat.
Joined Apr 3, 2010
I have never met a poor butcher. The USDA  used to have a purchasing spec guide on the primary and secondary cuts. If you can find that book, it was the best ever written. Another book was called meat cutting by Tom Faricante who I had the pleasure of working with back in the 70s and was a licensed instructor of meat th NYschool system.. The book is out of print but look around  in an old book stores you may find it..

   Most lay people do not know what to look for in meat. It is a trade and study into itself. With all the meat today being boxed and precut. It is difficult to determine the real quality without seeing the whole hanging side . Most schools do not teach meat cutting anymore simply because they don't know how to cut it themselves. They may show you a chart of where the cuts come from and thats it.

    . If you were lucky enough to have been around in the 50s  and 60s or learned it from someone who was in that era you are indeed lucky.
Joined Feb 26, 2007
KKV - taake him with you and show him what good meat is given that you have a good familiarity with decent meat.  Introduuce yourselves to your butcher (or your man if you know your butcher already).  I'm sure the butcher will be more than willing to help in education your man :)

Maybe you could try another butcher is this one is not very helpful in this regard, although that would be unusual.

P.S.  and you're  on with men going by the visual - that's why the read some magazines for the articles hehe.
Joined Aug 21, 2009
KKV I would bring him with you and let him see what you buy.   I did that with my husband and while he still spends far more than I would, he does buy good quality meat... even though sometimes he'll get an eight pound roast when a three pound one would do us nicely!
Joined Oct 2, 2010
KKV, here you go, make the poor man study on this, it's also good for his languages. I already sympathise with your husband since I'm a male too, we should all stick together! Ladies, eat what we bring home like in ancient times when we went hunting for meat too.

In different languages on beef (click the numbers)

In French, best website imo. Boeuf (beef), Veau (veal), Agneau (lamb), Viande chevaline (oops!?) ...

Click on the numbers on the pictures!

Some cuts may not be the same as in the US or other countries.

Joined Feb 13, 2008
Presumably, like most people, you buy your meat from the supermarket; and that's where your husband gets the crummy stuff.

The first line of defense is switching to an actual quality butcher market which doesn't deal in poor or poorly cut meat.  The whole getting to know your butcher thing may or may not work; but the getting to know the guy who puts out the plastic wrapped trays in the supermarket is pretty much a waste of time -- at least as far as meat goes.  I buy from a bunch of people and find that the quality of the meat supplied by the wholesaler is more important than the nature of my relationships with the guys working in the stores.  That said, having someone willing to sort through a few cases of packer-cut briskets for the best one doesn't hurt.

Does your husband want to learn how to cherry pick supermarket meat or not?  Most people who want to know, can find out pretty easily -- which makes me wonder about the value of the whole program.  As the saying goes, "You can't teach a pig to sing.  He only gets mad while you become increasingly  frustrated." 

If he (your husband, not the pig) does want to learn, probably the best suggestion so far is for the two of you to go together a few times so you can give him tutorials.  As you know, picking through the meat section is all very ad hoc, but not terribly nuanced.  And while I know several good meat education sites on the internet I don't think they'll really teach him to defend the integrity of your table in the super.   He (your husband, not the super) is either willing to pay attention (which is most of cooking) or he isn't.  

As I recall, he enjoys outdoor cooking.  Perhaps the best way for him to learn about the subject is to buy some large pieces and have him trim, portion ("steak" and/or "chop") and grill them.  One certainly learns the value of the importance of avoiding gristle, a sharp knife and a straight cut.  Responsibility for the ultimate dish provides context and focus. 

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Joined Apr 3, 2008
I buy almost all my meat from the local butchers.  Butchers plural because they each have a consistently good specialty.  I can't say I have a good relationship with them because they are all older greek men who don't take kindly to young women.  They are also very run of the mill butchers who I don't really trust to give me good meat, some of them don't know how to butcher anyway.  I depend on my own eyes and nose to choose meat, not them.  What these butchers know about me though is that if they show me a piece of meat I don't like I walk out the door and say "no thanks, that doesn't look too good today."  The butcher I do trust most is in the city but too far from me for to visit for everyday things (chuck, spontaneous bbq's etc.)  I only visit him when I need to buy meat for special occasions or when I can afford him. 

Nothing wrong with the local supermarket though, I have learned that I can buy some pretty decent chicken and pork there and the "butcher" there is nice enough to let me sort through boxes in the back if I'm looking for something specific. 
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