A blog for (semi) athletic middle-aged men (and women) holding on to (the last vestiges of) their youth
by training for and competing in running, cycling, swimming and triathlon events!

Friday, March 8, 2013

The Beefman's Top Five Beef Buying Tips

I think most of my readers know I eat a lot of lean beef to fuel my physical activity. At age 48 I also need plenty of protein to help avoid age-related muscle loss. Beef is a good/excellent source of 10 essential nutrients and vitamins like zinc to boost immunity, iron to build healthy red blood cells and B vitamins for energy. But let's face it; eating steak every day can get expensive! So, here are my top five tips for enjoying quality steaks for a reasonable price:

5) Share a Steak. My wife and I often share a steak and a salad for dinner. You don't need to eat a 10 oz. steak to get the nutrients you need. One 3 oz. serving of lean beef provides half the protein you need every day for only about 150 calories. If eating out, ask your server to split the salad for you and you'll usually get darn near two full portions. But ask them NOT to split the steak. I've actually seen restaurants butterfly a filet to split it. This is a big missed steak (just like becoming a vegetarian)! A filet should always be served medium rare. Butterflying will lead to overcooking which results in loss of flavor and tenderness.

4) Grill Once, Dine Twice. At least once a week I pick up a flat iron steak, grill it for dinner and have leftovers for breakfast steak and eggs, a steak salad for lunch, or fajitas for dinner the following day. Flat iron is an affordable but also very tender steak (second only to the tenderloin)!

Two flat iron steaks and grilled corn on the cob will feed a family of four with plenty of leftovers!
3) Slice and Save. My colleague Chef Dave (yes, we have a chef on staff where I work!) taught me how to slice a full tenderloin into four meals: a tenderloin roast, petit filet steaks, kabobs and stir fry. I also like to turn a ribeye roast into several meals: a prime rib roast, beef ribs and leftover roast beef au jus sandwiches (yum!). Chef Dave also has tips for cutting a ribeye into steaks and roasts.

2) Follow the Feature. Grocery stores always feature at least one beef cut on sale at all times, especially during "grilling season" (Memorial Day to Labor Day). Featuring beef brings customers in the door so sale prices are usually at or below cost! Watch the newspaper or just look for the signs in the meat case to find the best buys on steaks (or ground beef).

And, my number one beef shopping tip...

1) Mine the "Manager's Special" Section. My first stop in the meat case is the manager's special bin where they put steaks that are nearing their "sell by" date and mark them down for quick sale. These "aged" steaks are perfectly good but often have brown spots that turn off most customers. My friend Jenny describes this in great detail on her Chico Locker & Sausage blog. But the bottom line is that brown color does not mean the steak is spoiled. Spoilage is best determined by an off odor or if meat is sticky, tacky or slimy to the touch. If it doesn't pass the sniff test I'll move on to the featured steaks (see number 2).

Hope these hints are helpful. For great beef recipes, visit Beef. It's What's for Dinner.

Ride on!


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