Limited meat variety is a concern as four US companies dominate 85% of beef processing. This affects public meat options. Quality matters for taste, enjoyment, and health. Though options are limited, knowing where the best grocery store for meat is can lead to better quality.
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Best for Quality: Whole Foods
Whole Foods prides itself on its organic food and high standards for meat. For example, beef has to be raised on pastures for two-thirds of its life, and they provide many different options depending on what you’re looking for:
They also must meet Animal Welfare Standards. There are various standards for each animal to ensure the meat was produced without any unnecessary cruelty.
If you’re looking for something other than beef, it’s not just that they focus on. They have standards for others to meet too. They have a serious commitment to chicken welfare, and absolutely none of their meat is allowed to contain supplemental growth hormones.
They don’t skip out on frozen food either, which also must meet their organic meat standards. They even make their hotdogs without synthetic nitrites.
Best for Selection: Sprouts
If you don’t have Whole Foods nearby or are simply looking for another option for good quality meat, you can check out Sprouts.
Their beef is always fresh, and they never freeze it. It’s rated USDA Choice, which means you know it will be juicy and flavorful.
They also have a grass-fed selection higher in omega-3 fatty acids than grain-fed beef, which is handy for disease prevention! They’re minimally processed with no artificial ingredients.
Looking for something else, like chicken? Don’t worry, they’ve made sure that’s good too. They have methods to lock the juices in their chicken that ensure it’s good quality, and much like their beef, it has no artificial additions or added hormones.
Much like Whole Foods, it isn’t the cheapest option. But sometimes you get what you pay for, and good meat often isn’t cheap.
Best in the South: Publix
If you’re in the South, you’re in luck. Publix also has some excellent quality meat, and there’s a Publix around every corner when you’re down there.
Publix can also be somewhat more affordable than Whole Foods and Sprouts, which are known to be expensive. By shopping here, you can save money without compromising the quality of the meat.
They have antibiotic-free meats and meat that’s ready to cook, and they pride themselves on their customization (even specific treats like Jamaican Beef Patties!). If you don’t see what you want, it’s easy enough for their meat cutters to get you exactly what you need, so don’t be shy about asking and describing your needs.
For the perfect balance of health, quality, and affordability, Publix is a great option. Unfortunately, in most states in the US, it’s just not the most convenient since it would involve quite a bit of travel to reach!
Best for Value: Aldi
Are you looking for an even more affordable option? Aldi is proof that good quality meat doesn’t have to break the bank, and it’s available all over the US, despite its origin being in Europe, so it shouldn’t be challenging to find one.
Aldi tends to avoid big brands and claims to buy locally, but that doesn’t mean their meat is of lower quality. They still test it and follow similar standards to the other best grocery stores, but because they’re more careful about where to buy their meat, they can offer it at lower prices.
If you’re looking for a specific big-name brand of meat, then Aldi may not be the place for you. However, remember big-name brands aren’t everything, and if it’s only quality you’re into, you can find it at excellent prices here.
Grocery Store Meat Alternatives
Now, shipping and logistics have dramatically improved over the past decade to where buying meat online is a viable alternative to buying it in a grocery store.
And if you are buying high-quality cuts, you might can even score better pricing. Here are some of our favorites.
Crowd Cow is a website that specializes in selling meat by the box. The benefits of buying from this business are that the quality of the meat is guaranteed and bulk purchases may save you money.
The disadvantage is that you must place your order online, and shipping the beef to your location may be costly. They have options for grass fed beef and pasture finished beef. Order as much as possible with a full box to receive the best price.
FarmFoods is an online store that specializes in selling a huge selection of meats. They have a comprehensive selection of beef, including brisket like flat and point, as well as other meat products (like bison!).
The benefits of buying from FarmFoods are that they provide a wide range of goods, they maintain high standards of quality control, and free delivery is available on purchases of $99 or more.
Snake River Farms
Snake River Farms is the best place to get beef online. They’re a top provider of American-raised beef and pork.
The benefits of purchasing from Snake River Farms include their strict quality standards, the range of cuts they provide, and the fact that they source all of their meat domestically.
Agridime is a store that specializes in selling high-quality meats. They have a wide selection of different beef cuts and sizes to choose from, and their prices are very competitive.
If you’re looking for the best place to buy meat online, Agridime is definitely a store worth considering. Their quality is top-notch, and their prices are very reasonable.
Porter Road is an on-line butcher that sells high-quality meats of every cut. The firm has a dedication to sustainable farming and only purchases meat from animals that were not given antibiotics or hormones. Beef is available in a variety of cuts, with free delivery on purchases of over $100.
If you’re looking for quality meats with convenient delivery, Amazon Fresh is a great option. They have a wide selection of meat, and their prices are usually very competitive. Plus, they offer free delivery on orders over $50.
However, there are a few things to keep in mind when shopping at Amazon Fresh. First, their inventory can vary from week to week, so it’s important to check their website before placing an order.
Second, their prices can be higher than those at other grocery stores. But, if you’re looking for convenience and quality, Amazon Fresh is a great option.
Your Local Farmer’s Market
Your local farmer’s market is an incredible place to buy meat. You can not only get high quality cuts grown with amazing methods – you might can even work it out to buy a whole cow. Also, you can develop relationships to get the most out of your spend.
What to Look for When It Comes to Meat Quality
When deciding what grocery store to go to to get your meat, you need to know how to pick the best. This is what to look for.
A USDA Label
On any meat you buy, you should look for a label from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which rates the beef and lets you know its quality. There are three different ratings that the USDA uses:
- USDA Prime Beef: Generally sold in hotels and restaurants, this is beef from young, well-fed cattle that you should have no issue with.
- USDA Choice Beef: It’s still high-quality beef but with less marbling. It will still be juicy and full of flavor.
- USDA Select Beef: Leaner and more tender because of the even less marbling. It may not have as much flavor, but great for marinating.
If the beef you’re buying doesn’t have one of these labels on it, it’s time to walk away from it.
You may have noticed that marbling seems to be a key aspect in determining the quality of meat. But what exactly is marbling, and how do you know how much to look for?
Generally, more marbling equals a better quality of meat. Marbling looks like white streaks through the darker color of the meat, and the fat content helps keep the moisture inside as you cook it. This results in juicier and more tender beef, which is why it’s so important.
If it looks like the meat has a considerable amount of it, you’ve found good beef. It doesn’t take an expert to spot, so don’t worry about studying it too much.
Using the labels and your eyes, you’ll be able to get a feel for marbling fairly quickly.
If you’re on the hunt for good-quality beef, you should also look for the grass-fed variety. Only about 4% of cows used for meat are grass-fed, but the number is growing every year, and there’s good reason for that.
There are several significant benefits to grass-fed beef. Grass-fed beef has been proven to be higher in things like Vitamins A, E, B12, B6, iron, and zinc.
It’s also good for heart health, as it has lower levels of saturated fat. It can come with a risk of high cholesterol or parasite infections, however, so always be wary of any meat, but the advantages tend to outweigh the disadvantages here.
It can taste a little gamier than other beef too, which some people prefer for its deeper flavor.
What Else Should You Look For?
Even when you’ve found the right place to go, and you know what determines good quality meat, there are some other things to watch out for. Don’t forget these, or you may end up buying a subpar cut that isn’t worth the money.
The Sell-By Date
Some meat should be frozen or cooked within one to two days of purchase and others within three to five. It’s not federally required for stores to put a sell-by date on meat items, so it’s better to play it safe if there’s no date on there at all. However, some stores will do so to keep their customers safe and ensure the quality of their meat.
When in doubt, freeze the meat or cook it within two days, and it should be fine.
If you ever see meat being sold that has a sell-by date in the past, do not buy it, and it would also be wise to report it to the store. Not only is that meat going to taste bad, but it could also cause someone to get sick.
Some sell-by dates are merely vague suggestions you don’t have to abide by, but don’t risk it with meat!
The Position on the Shelf
If you’re really smart about buying meat, you’ll know that the position on the shelf often gives a lot away about the freshness of the meat.
Why is this?
Grocery stores want to sell the less fresh meat first and then move to the fresher stuff. It’s cost-effective, as it means there’s less chance of something going bad.
However, if you want the freshest stuff available, slyly digging to the back of the shelf or the bottom of the cooler and taking a cut of meat from there is your best option.
Condensation on the Packaging
For meat to stay fresher for longer, it should be tightly sealed, allowing nothing to get inside the packaging. Sometimes this doesn’t always happen.
There could be a small hole that’s allowing air and moisture to get in, meaning the meat won’t last as long.
If there’s condensation on the packing you can’t wipe away with your finger, it’s on the inside and means some air has gotten in.
This might not be a problem if you plan on cooking the meat right when you get home but if you want it to hold out for a day or two, look for something else.
The meat you’re buying should have smooth edges. If it’s jagged, then it may be of lower quality and, in the case of poultry, could even have bones left in.
The skill of the cut is often directly related to the quality of the meat, and it’s essential to remember this.
Pay attention to how consistent the cut of your meat is, and if it doesn’t look just as good every time you buy it, consider switching to a new store or butcher.
Functional Fridges and Freezers
Sometimes technology isn’t on our side, and faults happen. Store meat in a cooled environment to ensure it keeps its quality.
If you’re buying meat out of a fridge, make sure the fridge is still cold and working. If it’s been faulty for any period of time, then the meat may not last as long and may have already started to go off.
If you’re buying frozen meat, this is even more important, and it’s simple to tell if a freezer isn’t as cold as it should be because you may see water dripping from it.
Make sure the meat has been stored in an adequate place by taking a second to look around, feel the inside of the fridge or freezer, and have confidence in your decision to buy the meat from inside of it.
All fresh meat has a bit of a smell, and that’s okay, even if you aren’t the biggest fan of it! However, stay away from the meat if it smells strange or like it’s actively rotting.
This is another case where you should report it to the grocery store, as this should never be sold, and some unsuspecting customers might buy and consume it if they aren’t familiar with meat.
Wrap Up: How to Spot the Best Meat
When buying meat, it’s essential to stick to high-quality grocery stores such as Whole Foods, Sprouts, Publix, and Aldi.
While other grocery stores can have meat that’s of good quality too, many of them simply don’t stick to the same standards, and it can cause the meat to vary.
Why risk the quality of the end result and, more importantly, your health?
Once you’ve found the grocery store you want to go to, make sure to check things like the USDA label, the sell-by date, and the marbling too.
Bringing all of these things together can help you make an informed decision about your purchase and find the best cuts of meat available. And while shopping, be sure to check out kitchenware such as meat mallets, air fryers for meat, meat storage containers, and Japanese meat cleavers.
How do you know if meat is quality?
To determine if meat is of high quality, one should look for firm and dry texture instead of being wet and wobbly. The presence of marbling, which is the interspersed fat, contributes to juicier meat and enhances the flavor. It is important to ensure that the pieces are evenly and carefully cut. It is advisable to avoid processed, pre-spiced, and pre-marinated meat as they are typically made from lower quality cuts.
Why is target meat so red?
Target meat is so red because beef and pork are often treated with carbon monoxide by many meat manufacturers. This treatment causes the carbon monoxide to bind with a pigment in the meat, resulting in vibrant and red colors.
Is market meat better than supermarket?
Market meat is often better than supermarket meat because if you are looking for a cheap and convenient option, the supermarket may often win the day for you. However, if you are planning a more substantial meal, you may opt for the butcher shop route as they can provide a quality and fresher source of meat than can be found in a supermarket.
Why is Target meat pink?
The color of target meat appears pink due to the use of carbon monoxide MAP, which is considered by the FDA as a color stabilizer rather than a color additive. This stabilizer helps maintain the natural red color of fresh meat, rather than altering it.
Is Walmart and Sam’s Club meat the same?
Walmart and Sam’s Club meat are not the same, despite Walmart owning Sam’s Club. According to various sources, Sam’s Club meat is often priced lower than Walmart’s meat, while still maintaining a similar quality.
How do you pick healthy meat?
To pick healthy meat, opt for cuts with minimal visible fat, such as “choice” or “select” grades of beef instead of “prime.” Look for packages labeled with words like “round,” “loin,” or “sirloin” for lean cuts. Additionally, choose ground meat that is lean or extra-lean, containing no more than 15% fat.
What is the difference between good quality meat and bad quality meat?
The difference between good quality meat and bad quality meat can be determined by consumers based on certain characteristics. Good quality meat is typically identified by its desirable color, firm texture, minimal drip, high marbling, moderate visible fat, and a fresh meat odor. On the other hand, poor quality meat is characterized by discoloration, soft texture, excessive drip, low marbling, excessive visible fat, and an abnormal meat odor.
What is the top grade of meat found in grocery stores?
The top grade of meat found in grocery stores is typically referred to as “Prime.” It is commonly served in fine restaurants due to its superior taste, thanks to the rich fat marbling that comes from young, well-fed beef cattle. A step below is “Choice,” which is more commonly found in supermarkets and less upscale dining establishments.
What grade of meat is premium?
The grade of meat that is considered premium is Prime beef. Prime beef is the highest grade of beef in the U.S. It is known for its abundant marbling and contains approximately 8 to 13 percent fat. This type of beef comes from young cattle in A or B maturity. It is important to note that less than 2 percent of U.S. meat is graded as Prime.
What is the most expensive grade of meat?
The most expensive grade of meat is Kobe beef, which is renowned for its strict grading system. Only the highest-quality meat is awarded the prestigious “A5” rating, representing the highest possible grade. Due to its limited availability and high demand, the price of Kobe beef can range from $100 to $300 per pound or even higher, depending on the cut and grade.
What is the mid quality beef sold to most restaurants?
The mid-quality beef sold to most restaurants is known as Choice. Choice beef is commonly found on supermarket shelves and mid-level restaurant menus. It is USDA graded and has a decent amount of marbling, although it contains less fat compared to Prime beef. Additionally, the fat distribution in Choice beef may not be as even.
What is the most flavorful and tender USDA grade of meat?
The most flavorful and tender USDA grade of meat is prime, which is renowned for its juiciness, flavor, and tenderness due to its superior marbling compared to other quality grades.
What are the top three USDA quality grades of beef?
The top three USDA quality grades of beef are Prime, Choice, and Select. These grades are determined by evaluating traits such as tenderness, juiciness, and flavor. Prime, Choice, and Select beef are typically sold at the retail level, while lower grades like Standard, Commercial, Utility, Cutter, and Canner are commonly used in ground beef or processed meat products.
Is the top quality grade of beef found in retail stores is prime?
The top quality grade of beef found in retail stores is indeed prime. When the USDA awards a prime quality grading, it signifies that the beef possesses ample marbling, containing 8-13% fat, and originates from a young, well-fed cow. It is important to note that only a small percentage, approximately 2-5%, of beef sold in the foodservice industry receives this prestigious grading.
What three grades of meat are found in the local grocery store?
The local grocery store typically offers three grades of meat: Prime grade beef, Choice grade beef, and Select grade beef, which are the most commonly labeled grades among the eight grades established by the USDA.
What is the best quality of meat you can buy?
The best quality of meat that can be purchased is prime beef, which comes from young, well-fed beef cattle. It is known for its plentiful marbling, which refers to the amount of fat dispersed within the lean meat. Typically found in restaurants and hotels, prime roasts and steaks are ideal for dry-heat cooking methods like broiling, roasting, or grilling.
How do you know if meat is good at the grocery store?
To determine if meat is good at the grocery store, it is crucial to rely on your senses of touch, smell, and sight. Ensure that the meat feels firm when touched and inspect the packaging for any signs of tears, holes, or excessive liquid. Additionally, the meat should be cold to the touch and have no unpleasant odor.
What is the healthiest beef to buy?
The healthiest beef to buy includes round, sirloin, or loin cuts. According to the National Cattleman’s Beef Association, the top five lean cuts are eye of round with 1.4 g of saturated fat and 4 g of total fat, sirloin tip side steak with 1.6 g of saturated fat and 4.1 g of total fat, and top round roast and steak with 1.6 g of saturated fat and 4.6 g of total fat.
What are the 4 grades of meat?
The four grades of meat are Prime, Choice, Select, and Standard. These quality grades have been utilized by the beef industry since 1927, along with four additional grades: Commercial, Utility, Cutter, and Canner.
What is high quality meat called?
The highest quality grade of meat is called USDA Prime. While the percentage of beef carcasses that receive this grade has increased in recent years, it still remains a small fraction of the total number of cattle.
Which is the tastiest meat?
The tastiest meat is subjective, but pork, beef, horse, deer, lamb, rabbit, goose, duck, and turkey are often considered more flavorful than chicken. Pork, in particular, stands out with its rich and delicious taste. It is naturally flavorful and does not require much seasoning to be enjoyed. Additionally, when cooked, pork contains minimal fat, making it a popular choice for many.
Why is Aldi meat purple?
Aldi meat is purple because it is packed in vacuum-sealed leakproof packaging, ensuring freshness and longevity. The absence of air in the package gives it a deep purple color, which serves as a visual indicator of its freshness.
Where is the safest place to buy meat?
The safest place to buy meat is likely a whole-animal butcher shop, which can be found in growing numbers across the country. These shops purchase entire pasture-raised animals from local farms, process them on-site, and employ knowledgeable butchers who can provide information on the origin of each cut and offer cooking recommendations.
What state has the best quality meat?
The states that have the best USDA prime beef are Kansas, Nebraska, and Texas. These states are known for their high-quality beef production due to favorable conditions for raising cattle, such as abundant grazing grass and a suitable climate for growing feed crops.
How do you get high quality meat?
To obtain high quality meat, it is crucial to rely on your senses of touch, smell, and sight. Ensure that the meat feels firm when touched and inspect the packaging for any signs of tears, holes, or excessive liquid. Additionally, the meat should be cold to the touch and have no unpleasant odor.
Does it matter where you buy your meat from?
It matters where you buy your meat from because shopping for meat at a local butcher provides you with greater control over quality and a more comprehensive understanding of how the animals were raised and the butchering process. Despite potentially being pricier, the advantages of shopping locally outweigh the costs if you have the means to afford it.
Is it better to buy from butcher or supermarket?
It is recommended to buy from a butcher rather than a supermarket due to the higher quality of meat, despite the potentially higher cost. Butchers are known for stocking fresher, locally sourced meat, which generally comes at a higher price as the quality increases.
What meat should you stay away from?
You should stay away from processed meats, which are generally considered to be unhealthy. These include any meat that has been smoked, salted, cured, dried, or canned. Processed meats are high in sodium and can have double the amount of nitrates compared to fresh meat, according to health experts.
How do you buy the healthiest meat?
The healthiest meat can be purchased by choosing grass-fed meat, which contains higher levels of beneficial conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and omega-3 fatty acids compared to grain-fed meat. Additionally, meat from animals raised on organic feed tends to be healthier than meat from animals raised on non-organic feed.
Does Whole Foods have good meat?
Whole Foods has a great selection of beef, including organic, grass-fed, local, dry-aged, and grain-finished options. All of their fresh beef must meet their high standards and be Animal Welfare Certified, ensuring both quality and flavor.
What is the safest meat to eat in the US?
The safest meat to consume in the US would be steaks, pork chops, and other whole-muscle meats. This is due to the fact that the cooking procedure can effectively eliminate bacteria present on the surface of the meat, and the interior of the meat is generally free from any potential pathogens, making it essentially sterile.
Is Costco meat cheaper than butcher?
Costco meat prices are generally higher compared to supermarket specials and coupons, which often offer lower prices than Costco. However, when comparing Costco prices to those at your local butcher shop, Costco usually offers more competitive prices.
Is buying local meat better?
Buying local meat is indeed better for your health, taste buds, and the environment (though it might not be better for your budget). Local meat is typically produced on a smaller scale compared to mass-produced meat found in grocery stores, resulting in a superior product in terms of both health and taste.