How to Buy Beef
Like A Professional Chef

Many people are under the impression that in order to get high-quality beef, they have to go to a specialty butcher, which can get expensive if you’re someone who eats a lot of beef. However, that’s not necessarily the case. You can find good quality beef just about anywhere, including your local grocery store, as long as you know what to look for.
At Foodology,  our goal is to help all of our clients learn more about their food, from how to create more balanced meals to finding high-quality ingredients. Our mission is to help people develop a better relationship with food so that they can improve their health, lose weight, and so much more using our healthy eating guides. If you are interested in learning more about how to buy food and prepare healthy and delicious meals, Check out our e-book where you will have access to all the lessons in the Foodology course. In the meantime, continue reading below to learn more about how to buy beef like a professional chef!

Read Food Labels

When it comes to buying beef, the food label is the most important resource. Some of the labels you might encounter include American Humane Certified, USDA Organic, and Certified Humane. Each of these labels can tell you how the animal was treated, what it was fed, and whether or not the animal was injected with growth hormones or antibiotics. In addition to these specialty food labels, you also want to make sure the beef is minimally processed, and doesn’t contain any added ingredients. If the label says that the beef contains sugar, salt, dye, or preservatives, you don’t want it. Another good rule of thumb is to look to see if the package says no antibiotics, no steroids, or no growth hormones. If there is nothing on the package, don’t buy it! Additionally, if you come across a package of meat and you’re unsure what a certain label means, you can always ask the grocery store butcher to lend a hand.

Avoid Pre-Spiced or Pre-Marinated Meat

In some cases, you may be in a hurry to go home and make dinner, so you may grab a package of beef that is labeled as being pre-spiced or pre-marinated. While this may save you time if you’re in a hurry to get home and eat, typically those types of packaged meats are made with lower quality beef.

Pay Attention to the Fat Level

As we’ll explain later, the goal is to pick out cuts of meat that taste better, and one way to do that is to pay attention to the level of fat in the cut of beef. Fat adds flavor to the beef, and the more interspersed the flavor is within the cut, the more flavor you will have. Ideally, your beef should have a marbling effect with how the fat is dispersed. If the fat within the beef is more yellow than white, it means that the beef came from an older animal, while this meat may be less tender, it will have a deeper, more mature taste. In addition to how the fat looks, you should also make sure you take the time to see how the cut of beef feels. Squeeze the package before you put the beef in your cart to make sure the beef feels firm. When fat is cold, it should feel hard. If your beef doesn’t feel firm, you shouldn’t buy it.

Learn How the Animal Was Fed

How the cow was fed before it was slaughtered can also tell you a lot about how your beef will taste. The best tasting meat will generally come from animals that were allowed to eat in a natural environment, such as grass-fed cows. Animals that were allowed a natural diet will produce cuts of meat that are tastier, juicer, and have more delicious fat. Cows that were grain-fed can also produce high-quality cuts of beef. However, you want to make sure that the grain wasn’t genetically modified, as it can modify the meat of the animal. To help you determine how an animal was fed, you can look at the food label or ask the store butcher.

Check the Packaging

While the cut, fat, and how the animal was fed and treated are among the most important details to consider, you should also consider the packaging of the meat when you find it in the store. A cut of meat can be high-quality, but if it isn’t packaged well or the meat is past its prime, none of the other factors will matter.

Before you buy the beef, give the package a squeeze to make sure the meat feels firm. As we mentioned earlier, fat is hard when chilled, so the meat shouldn’t have too much give. Additionally, you want the meat to have a slightly darker red color, which will indicate that the beef has a richer taste. With this step, it’s okay to trust your gut about your beef. If the beef has a weird color or feels slightly off when you squeeze it, it mostly likely isn’t worth buying.

Get Into the Fine Details

Choosing high-quality beef is mostly about the appearance of the beef and how the animal was fed and treated according to the food labels. However, if you already feel confident with choosing your beef, you can start digging into the finer details of your meat. In the meat industry, many people have started looking into what makes the best beef, including the breed, sex, and age of the animal. It’s been noted that female animals taste better, but castrated males can also be quite tasty. The age of the animal can also have an effect on the taste of the beef, and we recommend buying beef where the animal was no older than four years old. There’s a good chance that you won’t be able to find this information on the package of your meat, but if you’d like to learn everything you can about the animal, consider talking to the store butcher.

Choose Flavor Over Tenderness

When people think about buying meat, many of them consider how tender the cut of meat will be. However, to get the high-quality of beef, it’s best to prioritize flavor over tenderness. In fact, some of the tastiest meats will require you to work a little harder with them and cook them slower, which will help increase the flavor.

Before you buy the beef, give the package a squeeze to make sure the meat feels firm. As we mentioned earlier, fat is hard when chilled, so the meat shouldn’t have too much give. Additionally, you want the meat to have a slightly darker red color, which will indicate that the beef has a richer taste. With this step, it’s okay to trust your gut about your beef. If the beef has a weird color or feels slightly off when you squeeze it, it mostly likely isn’t worth buying.

Want to Learn More?

If you enjoyed learning about how to buy meat like a professional chef and you’re looking for even more great tips about food, look no further than Foodology! We’re dedicated to teaching people across the nation about nutrition, health, and food in general using our healthy eating guides.

Check out our e-book to explore all of our Foodology lessons where we teach you how to create a better and lasting relationship with food, healthy eating facts, and more. Want more great articles like this one? Keep an eye out for our next article where we’ll teach you how to buy seafood like a pro in February 2021!

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