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Friday, June 25, 2010

Meat Calculator

I don't cook a lot of meat, so when I go to the store looking for a particular cut, I am often dependent on my visual assessment of size to determine if I have enough in the package I'm considering.  However, to truly make good decisions, I need to have a better understanding of how many servings I have per package of a given cut, and what the price per serving works out to.

That's why I was pleased to see in this morning's Everyday Cheapskate a link to a very comprehensive guide to Buying Meat By the Serving from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension.  In it, you will find a comprehensive chart detailing servings per pound from particular meat cuts, as well as a chart that allows you to cross reference price per pound and servings per pound to find your cost per serving.  So, you may find that a cut you think is more expensive actually works out to a lower cost per serving if you can get more servings per pound. 

One caveat:  this calculator does not take into account secondary uses of the leftovers, nor personal preference about trimming.  So, if you find a well-marbled steak and plan to cut off the majority of the fat, you are also decreasing the weight and the theoretical number of servings.  Additionally, if you buy a bone-in cut of meat and plan to make stock with the bone and trimmings, I think it would be fair to add another serving or two to the computation to account for the multiple uses.

Calculators like this are invaluable to truly understanding your food costs, and that is why I decided to pass this tip along today.  (Thanks again to Everyday Cheapskate for covering this first!)  Additionally, let me note that state extension offices are great sources of information like this, free to the public.  If you have some time to devote to web surfing, it is fun to look up your state extension office and see what free publications are available -- almost certainly, you will find information on growing and preserving foods that do well in your geographic area.
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