Where Do I Learn More About Selecting AND Cooking Good Meat ?

I got to thinking when my daughter called from college to ask me about my pork cutlet recipe. She took some of our meat back to college with her. Recipes are good, but what if you don’t know HOW to pick meat from the store?

We are spoiled since my husband raises cattle, our own beef goes to the processing plant, but it’s not cheap. We get our beef cut up the way we want it, goes in the freezer, and we have our own butcher-cut meat to eat on for a year or more. It isn’t cheap, but that’s a whole year’s worth of meat. A deep freezer and butcher-quality meat is an investment we’re willing to make. We get hogs from a cousin so we get hogs, too.


Let’s start with hamburger. The leaner ground beef you buy, the more expensive it gets, but the healthier it is for you to eat. Check your labels for the percentage of fat in it (probably 70-80%).Our ground meat is closer to 90% from a processing plant. Also, check dates for “packaged” and “use buy”. DON’T BUY IT IF IT’S EXPIRED! I tell my daughter that thawed, ground meat only lasts a couple of days in the refrigerator. Smell the meat when you buy it if dates are alright. I suggest freezing it in freezer bags in approximately 1 pond packages if not using it all right away.

Just remember this saying if measurements confuse you.


The package should have an amount (usually ounces), listed when you buy it. If put in the fridge frozen, you have a couple more days because it takes about a day to thaw in the fridge.

Roasts I’m not sure about, so be sure and ask at the meat department in your grocery store If you cook a roast it is also good for.

Tenderized or minute steaks are good for chicken fried steak, Swiss steaks, or smothered steaks. It’s a tougher cut of meat that has been tenderized. This makes it more edible and easier to eat.

Steaks can be confusing and EXPENSIVE. It depends on marbling, size, weight, etc. Ask the meat department about details on steaks, too. I don’t buy them separately. My personal choice is Ribeye. It has less bone, but is a good cut of meat. T-Bone is not, economically, a good choice. You’re paying for a big bone, hence the name. Sirloin steak is good to make fajitas, stir-fry. or another cut recipe.

Dried beef is another cut we get. It’s slivered like lunch meat. We use it as such and I also make what we call S**t On A Shingle. It’s simply bite-sized pieces of dried beef warmed in a skillet with white gravy added and served over toast. We got the name from both of our fathers because that’s what it was called in the military. With small kids, we called it S.O.S.

A brisket is another cut of meat from beef. Brisket is usually a bigger cut of meat that is used to make corned beef, like for St. Patrick’s Day or to have a barbecued brisket for sandwiches.

Can’t forget the ribs. I like the spare ribs because they are already individually cut apart to make it easier to handle. You can get a rack if you want to grill them or put them in a big pan.

If you have any more beef questions, click here.


Ground pork and sausage go along the same as ground beef. I even challenge you to get some ground pork and fix it like hamburgers. A little different flavor, but we like them for a change.

Bacon comes from the side, or belly, of the pig. Usually bought in slices, has fat on it. That’s what makes it crispy when fried. Look for bacon in the store with the least amount of fat for healthier bacon. It’s one of the most popular cuts of pork because it has lots of ways to use it and used in the morning, at noon, or at night. Precooked bacon can be used as bacon pieces or strips of bacon when microwaved for a short amount of time.

Pork cutlets are the tougher pieces of meat that get tenderized. When getting a hog butchered, I get cutlets instead of tenderloins. By getting a tenderloin it takes away from other cuts of meat.

Ham is from the back end of the hog. It can be fresh or cured. The ham you usually find in the store is cured. That’s what I get sliced (ham steaks), slivered (for lunch meat), or just smaller hams. Any leftover ham I either cut into pieces or grind to use in ham balls or ham loaf recipes.

Pork chops is a very popular cut of pork. When I get chops I get them both fresh and smoked, usually 1/2″=3/4″ thick. The thicker you get the longer to cook. Grilled chops are great for the grill. Fresh chops are good to go with a marinade or any other way you want to prepare it.

Pork roasts can also be good in the crock pot cooked low and slow for pulled pork. Pork steak is an option to that is good for marinating and putting on the grill.

Then there are ribs. A HUGE hit in my house. I just get spare ribs. I put them in barbecue sauce in the crock pot. You can get the rack or the crown roast, but to me it’s easiest to get the pieces already cut proportionately per person. I even tend to mix beef and pork ribs and put in the crock pot with barbecue sauce until they are fall-off-the-bone good!

If you have more questions check out this website here or ask a butcher.

I have also seen the Dr. Oz show on TV do episodes with meat informstion in them about choice, healthy, cooking. Any type of meat, even chicken. The link above will take you to his show site and you can search your topic

Leave a Comment