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Rec for buying meat

Hi:
I love to cook, bbq, roast, etc. and am looking for a recommendation to buy meat at reasonable prices. Specifically, looking for Pork Butt, Spare Ribs and Baby Back Ribs for a bbq I'm throwing for 25 people next week.

For the last 2 years, I've been a Costco fanatic (Hawthorne location is much cheaper than the Marina del Rey location) and buy tenderloins and then butcher them up (remove tendons, silver skin, etc.), buy flap steak, short ribs, pork chops, spare ribs, and now they have some great organic chicken as well. I've tried 99 Ranch Market, Marukai and depending on the sales, Albertsons, Vons/Pavilions, and Ralphs. Overall, here are my impressions:

1. Costco -- very good for tenderloin, but you need to be choosy about which ones you pick. Cost is o.k.. Cheaper than Ralphs and other supermarkets and way cheaper than Gelsons or Whole Foods. More expensive than 99 Ranch Market and Marukai. When they sell Prime grade meats, especially their Rib Roast (Prime Rib) or filet, it definitely is a bargain when you factor in quality.

2. Ralphs/Albertsons/Vons/Pavilions -- in general, they've been shifting to lower grade meats and you're lucky if you even find Choice. One of them calls it Rancher's Cut, others call it something else. Quality is o.k. but not as good as Costco. Price fluctuates depending on the special of the week. Just got some great Pork chops (2 inch thick) on sale at Albertsons for $2.99 per lb.

3. 99 Ranch Market, Marukai, various Korean markets in K town -- Especially on sale, meat can be quite cheap at any of these places. I bought tenderloin for $4.99 per lb at 99 Ranch about a month ago. However, you definitely got what you paid for. More stringy, and definitely not Choice quality tenderloin. The NY and Ribeye were also pretty cheap, $3.99 per lb., but again, not as good as the Costco and definitely not as good as Bristol/Gelsons/whole Food. My thought is although cheaper, I'd rather eat meat less often and not buy my meat here. One exception are the short ribs cut kalbi style which although a little fatty, are still o.k. and trying to find this cut elsewhere can be difficult.

4. Gelsons/Bristol Farms/Whole Foods -- The meat can be excellent but you pay an arm and a leg for it. On the cost vs. quality scale, it just doesn't fit into the budget and I like meat too much to make it into a special occasion meal. to justify buying meat at these places.

Any other suggestions?

Thanks
Roy

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  1. How about How's Markets. They usually have great sales on meats, even their Prime stuff. Here is the website:

    http://hows.foodmagic.com/fmap/jsphow...

    1 Reply
    1. re: jkao1817

      My pa-in-law, a good cook and dedicated carnivore, turned me on to How's some time ago. Excellent quality for the most part, and their sale prices are sometimes amazing bargains. Poultry and fish are also very good there.

      Gelson's meat prices are insanely high, I think, but for some reason the poultry prices are quite reasonable for the quality you get. Bristol Farms is where I go if I need a good butcher and/or an uncommon cut or offal, though I'm thinking How's might be a good source for that as well.

    2. I agree with your assessment. Though I have noticed in the past year or so that the beef at Whole Foods can be hit or miss. Every time I've purchased a chuck roast it has been lousy. Perhaps it is too lean, but it never cooks up to falling apart the way it should. Also the ground beef has been disappointing. Has anyone else found this? I also really don't care for their pork sausage.

      5 Replies
      1. re: jacqueline f

        Exactly same experience you describe.

        Actually, I stopped buying meat (and most everything else) at WF, they're trying to squeeze profits to the max, screw their customers. I wish them good luck, but I'm out.

        I'm now buying organic grass fed beef directly from a ranch in CA. $9 and change per lb, buying entire half or quarter carcass.

        1. re: RicRios

          How do you like grass fed beef vs. grain fed beef? At $9 per pound, how much is a quarter carcass? Do you then do your own butchering?
          Thx
          Roy

          1. re: luigisdad

            I like it a lot, but some in my household don't. They say it's "too beefy". Go figure!

            Half carcass = 150 lbs.
            They butcher, package in supermarket-size bags, individually labelled & weighted.

          2. re: RicRios

            Which ranch do you buy from? I did a lot of research on buying grass fed beef over the internet, but was unable to arrive at a decision. And, how do you find room in your freezer for all that beef?

            1. re: onebite

              Nick Ranch:

              http://www.BeyondOrganicGrassFedBeef.com

              I asked them to ship 50 lbs at the time. From Avenales, CA FedEx ground arrives overnight, no need to use dry ice.

              Beware, you can also buy small cuts. What happens is, all small cuts are aged (don't recall if dry aged or wet), and we don't like aged beef. The only way around to the aging issue was to buy the half carcass.

              Now, if you buy half carcass, be careful to tell them exactly how you want the ground beef. If you don't specify, you might not like what you 'll get (too much fat).

        2. For Pork Butt. Spareribs and Baby Backs, you may want to try Smart & Final. I think Smart & Final features Farmer John pork products. Baby Backs are on special for the next couple weeks at $3.99 per pound. Smart & Final sells Pork Butts (2 in a package for around $1.49/pound) and Spareribs (from $1.39-$1.99 per pound) for a reasonable price.

          Smart & Final sells USDA Select Beef so I would skip buying beef there.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Norm Man

            I agree with the Baby Backs at Smart and Final. For Pork Butt however, we got the most amazing WHOLE shoulder at Carneceria Sanchez in Culver City. Other Mexican full service butchers and Markets are great. I also really like Gigante in Inglewood because they cater to both Latinos and the African American Community...

            --Dommy!

            1. re: Dommy

              I buy my Carne Asada and Pollo Asada at Sanchez. How much is the Whole Shoulder and do you find it cost effective vs. just buying the Pork Butt? Is there significantly more bone and fat in the whole shoulder?
              Roy

              1. re: luigisdad

                Well actually I did not buy the whole shoulder, my SO did to which I promptly shouted...

                HONEY!!!!

                LOL! It was a little misunderstanding because we wanted to make a Porchetta (Which we did and came out FAB!!) There actually was NO bone (He was shocked) and there was not that much to trim. You ask the butcher for the shoulder... he asks if you want to bottom or top half or the whole thing and they will pack it up. Hopefully he sees this post so he can give you the exact pricing. But I believe it was 11lbs of pork goodness for around $1.50lb...

                --Dommy!

          2. Does your Costco really sell USDA Prime beef?? I have been trying at ours and they say they can't get any,just Choice. This would be good ammo to use with them!

            2 Replies
            1. re: mattrapp

              Yes, the Culver City/Marina del Rey Costco does sell Prime Rib Roast and boneless Rib Roast around the holidays. Occasionally, they have filet mignon in Prime as well.

              1. re: mattrapp

                Yes, if their buyers can get a good deal, they will pick it up, but it is a spotty thing...

                --Dommy!

              2. I guess I'm lucky that I live across the street from two butchers here in the LA Farmer's Market, along with two poultry vendors. The fish market here is terrible, but for that, I still choose to go to an Asian market.