(4/25/22) BATON ROUGE, La — Consumers have seen a steady increase in food costs over the past year, which could make many rethink the way they shop and cook.
LSU AgCenter beef specialist Ashley Edwards said consumers shouldn’t write off beef as they are meal planning.
“There are so many options on a carcass of beef that can fit with your diet or budget,” she said.
Edwards educates producers on management strategies that help them to put high quality products on consumers’ tables. But she said consumers also need to know about the benefits of beef.
“People don’t realize that half of the fat in beef is unsaturated, and a good bit of it is oleic acid, which is similar to olive oil,” she said.
LSU AgCenter nutritionist Jennifer Duhon calls beef a protein powerhouse that contains all the essential amino acids while packing other nutrients.
“It is also a valuable source of iron, zinc and vitamin B12. These nutrients are essential at every stage of life, and difficult to get from plant-based foods,” Duhon said.
Another beef benefit according to Duhon is how it aids in increasing the absorption of iron from other foods like plant-based proteins and vegetables.
Duhon provided a list of beef cuts that can work into different food budgets. She said you may need to ask the butcher if they carry the cut or seek out a specialty butcher shop.
Duhon said this cut of beef has similar flavor to a ribeye and can be cooked in the same way but at a lower cost. She found it for $4.98 a pound.
Consumers may also find this cut labeled as top blade or flat iron steak. Duhon said these steaks are tender and don’t require much more than a grill and simple salt and pepper. She said they run about $6 a pound.
Duhon said marinating and grilling this cut taken from the triangular-shaped muscle near the sirloin is a good option. At $7.98 a pound it is the most expensive of her options.
Ground beef prices will vary depending on cut used and the percentage of fat content. The leaner ground sirloin will have the highest price. Duhon found average prices ranging from $4.38 to $6.38 per pound. She said ground beef is versatile and easy to prepare.
Another cost-efficient choice is purchasing a whole or half, also known as side, of beef straight from a producer. Amelia Kent, a beef producer with Kent Farms, LLC, sells direct to consumers and said her customers like the convenience and cost savings of having lots of beef options in their freezers.
“You are going to be heavy on utilitarian cuts like stew meat, roast and ground beef, but the breakdown yields about 25% premium cuts,” she said.
Kent estimates the cost of “take-home beef” to the consumer is about $7 a pound for a whole slab of grass-fed beef or $7.25 a pound for a half, and less than $6 a pound for grain-fed beef. She also said there are several ways to find beef producers and buy direct from the farm.
“We have a lot of reputable producers who participate in farmers markets or have partnerships with local vendors,” she said.
Kent also mentioned social media as a great tool to search for locally produced beef. Her farm can be found on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @KentFarms_La.