Meat Buying Guide

meat-buying-guideThis section is a crash course on meat buying. If you have ever gone to a butcher, you’ll quickly realize that buying meat isn’t as simple as it sounds. There are a plethora of cuts to choose from and the experience can be confusing on your first trip to your butcher. Following are some meat buying tips that you can adhere to when you buy meat:

Choosing the Right Cut

When selecting beef, the important thing to look for is the part of the buffalo or veal the meat is coming from. Cuts that are tender, also called luxury cuts come from the back of the animal such as the rump, rib and loin. Working cuts on the other hand are less tender than their luxury counterparts and come from the front, such as the shoulder, leg and flank. Suffice to add that a luxury cut is more expensive since it makes up a much smaller proportion of the animal.

Luxury cuts are best cooked over quickly over high heat, while working cuts should be cooked longer since they are tougher and less tender. While cooking, set the heat low and leave the meat to cook for a few hours. In order to break down the natural fibres and make the meat tender in a working cut, you can marinade it for a few hours before cooking.

Top Round, Bottom Round and Top Sirloin are working cuts and should be cooked for a long time. Tenderloin, Rib Eye or T-Bone are luxury cuts and should be cooked quickly at high temperatures.

Boneless or Bone In?

The advantage of buying meat with bone is that bones are good conductors of heat and can radiate heat through the meat which means that the meat cooks faster. Additionally, some chefs opine that bone gives a more intense flavour than filleted meat.

On the flip side, people prefer boneless to bone in because trimming the meat off the bone is often deemed a bit of a hassle.


Meat should smell fresh with no sour or stale odour. It the latter holds true, don’t buy it since a rancid smell indicates that the meat is spoilt and should not be consumed.


The meat you buy should be firm as opposed to being tough or soft. Poke the meat cut to find out if it has been sitting on shelf for a very long duration. If the meat feels hard or if it does not spring back and regains its original shape if you poke it, it would mean that the meat is not fresh.


Look for meat that is a rich cherry or slightly brownish red in colour. The beef should look moist on the surface and should not be wet or sticky. If you are buying pre wrapped beef and notice that there is a lot of liquid in the packaging, it would indicate that the meat has been frozen and is thawing. Beef that’s turning brown indicates that it has been sitting on the shelf for far too long and should be avoided.

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