publication date: Oct 2, 2007
author/source: Fiona Beckett
The general impression you get is that meat is expensive - and it is if you go for the prime cuts. But there are many cheaper cuts that are just as tasty and nutritious if you’re prepared to spend a bit longer preparing them and which enable you to buy better quality meat from more humanely reared animals.
It depends on the cut you buy but in general you tend to pay more
for beef and lamb and less
for pork, chicken and turkey.
- Pork in most guises: spare rib pork chops, pork mince (often cheaper than beef mince), and belly pork are the cheapest options. Sausages are almost always on special offer somewhere these days so you should be able to afford at least the mid-priced lines such as Lincolnshire sausages and 'Butcher's Choice' rather than the cheapest ones which tend to have a very low meat content. I’d always take up a good bacon offer because it keeps well. Streaky is cheaper than back bacon and not too fatty if you fry it till crisp. Packs of cold roast pork are usually well priced too.
- Chicken - some of the cheapest protein available but as with eggs there are welfare issues. Personally I’d stick to free-range British-produced birds rather than imports. Legs and thighs are generally cheaper than breasts or breast fillets unless you find a good special offer and have a freezer to store what you don’t immediately need. A whole chicken can be made to stretch for several meals if you use any leftover meat for sandwiches and salads and make soup from the carcass. (see Beyond Baked Beans Budget)
- Turkey - sometimes cheaper than chicken and can be used for the same sort of recipes. Turkey drumsticks are extraordinarily cheap but somehow extraordinarily unappealing . . .
- Beef - generally expensive but there are cheaper cuts such as shin or leg of beef (brilliant for stewing) and thinly cut ‘minute’ steaks (marinate for extra tenderness). And, of course, mince though watch out for prices on ‘extra-lean’ mince which are often inflated. (Buy cheaper mince, brown it and pour off the fat). Tinned corned beef is a good buy too.
- Lamb - shoulder of lamb makes a great roast) if you find it on special offer- still a bit of a treat but much, much cheaper than leg. Breast of lamb can also be used for roasting while stewing lamb makes a great wintery stew or hotpot. Lamb mince can be as cheap a buy as beef mince (but see above). And if you’re not too squeamish, lambs liver or kidneys - ingredients much admired in France, Italy and eastern Mediterranean countries like Turkey - make a fantastically nutritious meal.