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Dec 8, 2009 09:37 AM

Roast beast: bang for the buck?

I'm planning on doing roast beef for Christmas. My usual recipe standby, epicurious, is full of tempting recipes for rib roasts and tenderloin roasts, but at $25 a pound these are WAY out of the budget. Any recommendations for cheaper cuts, closer to the $10/lb mark, that still make a nice fancy-dinner presentation, or should I just switch to turkey?

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  1. Unless you are buying prime grade. aged beef or some specially raised beef, rib roasts and tenderloin roasts need not to be $25.00 per pound. Depends on where you are at, you should have no problem buying choice grade at $10.00 per pound, ever cheaper for a lower grade.

    1 Reply
    1. re: PBSF

      I would agree with these thoughts. Unless you are purchasing specialty dry-aged meat from a butcher or mail-order company, the supermarkets readily sell Choice Grade Rib Roasts for around $4.99/lb, Whole Tenderloins will be around $8-10/lb ....during the week before the holiday. Last year I was fortunate enough to be at the right place and the right time to purchase a full Stip Loin (New York Strip) for $3.49/lb if I recall correctly. When roasted, this is an amazing piece of meat as it has much more flavor than a tenderloin.

      You may want to consider a Whole Top Butt Sirloin Roast.....dubbed as the Poor Man's Roast Beef by Cook's Illustrated/America's Test Kitchen. You could purchase this cut anywhere from a $2-4 depending on the source. Roasted low and slow this is a tender very beefy flavor cut of meat.

    2. First I would check Costco, they often have good deals on roasts. I got a lovely eye of the round roast recently and it was lovely. Pushed slivers of garlic into it and roasted it slowly. It would have been totally appropriate for a nice dinner as it sliced very nicely and had enough pan juices that with a little beef stock and red wine made a nice jus.

      But you may also want to consider a pork roast. It seems that lately prok roast are always on sale. A rolled pork roast with an apple or cranberry stuffing is lovely. My sister's kids actually prefer raost pork to beef.

      1 Reply
      1. re: pengcast

        I soooo agree with you that Costco is the way to go.

        I got a boned prime roast -- yes, it really is Prime -- for $11/lb (Los Angeles prices). I'll dry age it myself. But, honestly, when I've just gotten Costco meat and held it a few days before cooking it it's always been excellent.

        Don't remember what the bone-in roasts were going for. They had both Prime and Choice so you can get either depending on your budget.

      2. I agree with everyone else...unless you are shopping for beef at Nieman Marcus, I don't know how you are getting $25/lb. Costco has very good choice AND prime rib roasts. The choice is something like $6.99/lb--not sure about the prime. The also sell whole beef tenderloins for around $10/lb. I think their meat is great. You must be wanting dry aged from Whole Paycheck.

        1 Reply
        1. re: sparkareno

          Whole Paycheck it is. My other grocery store in walking distance never has anything but ground beef and pot roasts. But it looks like it may be worth the trek to a better supermarket in this case, so I'll see what I can find!

        2. Like everyone says, your supermarket has choice meat (and even prime sometimes) which, while not like a butcher, is fine for large groups. Just check the local sale flyers.I got my bone in rib roast for New Years a few weeks ago for $2.99, and this weekend I got a couple of gorgeous porterhouses for $3.99. While not overly marbled, I did a few tricks and it was delicious. I used to frequent the butcher myself, but it's rare now and only for just the two of us.

          1. You should be able to get a whole beef tenderloin from costco vacuum packed for around $30.

            34 Replies
            1. re: StheJ

              Errrrrrr.....sorry to disagree, but at Costco the average price for a whole tenderloin is probably going to be around $60-70+. based on a 6-8 pound piece of meat. I cannot recall tenderloins falling below $8.99/lb for quite some time. At my local warehouse it's been $9.99-10.99 for most of the year. .....and I shop there every week. Costco doesn't sell meat like the supermarkets do on sale. For the most part, their prices remain constant.

              If I'm wrong, my apologies.

              1. re: fourunder

                I got a whole PSMO tenderloin at my local grocery (again! what can I say, I'm a bargain hound), for $3.99/lb a few weeks ago. It was slightly odd shaped on the ends, but that goes in stroganoff anyway. If you watch the loss leader sales at your local grocery, you can always stock up. I've seen it at that price off and on all summer.

                1. re: coll

                  That's my can purchase the whole tenderloin at you local supermarket on sale for less.....but @ Costco, the price is consistently closer to $10/lb.

                  It would be my observation though that the $3.99/lb tenderloin you (and I) have been purchasing is not Northern American Beef, but rather Australian Beef, which apparently is a much smaller animal than the North American most loins are usually in the 6-7 pound range,......and as (StheJ) notes would come in between $25-30.

                  At Shop Rite stores, where I do most of my meat purchases, the North American Beef is always $2-3 more than the Australian beef when both go on sale for whole tenderloins.....usually in the $40-50 range.

                  1. re: fourunder

                    Mine says American/ Mexican/Canadian, Australian meat is usually too gamy for me so I'd probably notice.( When you said Australian is smaller, it made me think of the time people were claiming Jack in the Box was selling kangaroo meat instead of beef ;-) ) The ones I've bought recently seem to be 5 down, maybe they're starving them or slaughtering very young. I don't eat it that often to worry about the specifics though.

                    1. re: coll


                      3.99 for North American must disclose the store for your fellow Long Islanders.

                      1. re: fourunder

                        Best Yet, it's a chain on Long Island and Queens. I love their prices on everything, not just meat. I'm always blabbing about it here, but at the risk of annoying anyone, here's their ad for this week (just click on their link to see more than the four items listed here)


                        1. re: coll

                          I paid $3.99/lb. here in Virginia two weeks ago for beef tenderloin. Oh and it was Certified Angus.

                    2. re: fourunder

                      The trimmed tenderloins are selling for closer to $13 to $14 per pound. Only the untrimmed tenderloins, which will have a lot of waste, are $10 per pound.

                      1. re: RGC1982

                        Best Yet has the trimmed tenderloins on sale starting Thursday for $3.99 again.

                      2. re: fourunder

                        there is also a common assumption on here that simply everybody belongs to costco. i don't, nor do most of my friends.

                        1. re: hotoynoodle

                          I know that not everyone is a member of Costco, but I'd keep in mind that the savings you'd realize on even one large roast, not to mention food and drinks for a holiday dinner, would practically cover the cost of membership for a year.

                          I'd also be wary of bargain-basement priced beef at supermarkets. It is invariably Select grade, which is, IMHO, not even worth eating. Certainly not the right choice for a holiday feast.

                          Costco, and Sam's Club, have consistently excellent meat, and at a very fair price.

                          1. re: btnfood

                            There is really no discernable difference between Select and Choice when it comes to filet mignon.

                            My local grocery carries Choice and also Prime in other cuts, at almost the same price on sale. Guess they have a really good meat buyer. Clearly marked with USDA medallion on the label.

                            1. re: coll

                              I noticed that Best Yet just called it USDA, which really means nothing, and generally means that they are selling Select. The term Angus can also apply to many types of beef and is not in itself a guarantee of quality.

                              Having roasted hundreds of tenderloins, I can definitely say that there is a difference in the various grades of meat. When I buy whole cases, they often contain a few Prime filets along with Choice. The tenderloin is not a cut with a lot of marbling, but some would argue that it makes the grade you choose even more important than fattier cuts.

                              The point that I think a lot of hounds are trying to make, and I agree, is that you get what you pay for, but there are ways to get fine-quality meat that is affordable.

                              1. re: btnfood

                                Select. Prime. Choice. Can someone explain to a limey what all these things mean?

                                1. re: greedygirl

                                  The US govt grades all meat, especially beef , into (I believe) 9 grades, although as a normal consumer, you would only see Prime (top grade, most marbled), then Choice, which is the general standard, and then Select if you're looking for a bargain. After that, It's institutional and so on down to dog food. There is a manual called NAMP that gives you the guidelines. It also numbers every cut of meat so there is no mistake what you are getting.

                                  1. re: coll

                                    The US govt grades all meat,

                                    This is not quite correct. Meat Packers/Slaughterhouses have the option to have their beef graded. Inspection is mandatory, but grading is voluntary.


                                    1. re: fourunder

                                      I always get that wrong for some reason, thanks. The grading is done by the North American Meat Packers association to bring consistancy to the industry.

                                2. re: btnfood

                                  If anyone is familiar with Western Beef .......I wouldn't take their meat if it were offered to me for free..

                                  1. re: fourunder

                                    Glad someone understands my point :)

                                    They have great prices for groceries, but I skip the meat section!

                                  2. re: btnfood

                                    Sorry, the Prime deals are at Waldbaums just recently. I shop around ;-) and didn't mention who it was because I figure few people know these specific stores. Just saying, if they're doing it, there must be other places too.

                                    Here's this weeks flyer for example can't link directly but just click on meat and go to the bottom for prices and grades. Wish I could afford to go to the butcher like the old days of $30 plus sirloins, but not feasible anymore. I do a few tricks and it comes out pretty darn good. I'm making the last $3.99 porterhouse (this one from Stop and Shop) for husband for dinner tonight, he was happy with it the last time and he's very particular.

                                    1. re: coll

                                      It's great that supermarkets are starting to carry Prime meat, and I can say that Waldbaum's has always been pretty good for meats in general. You're right in that their buyers are doing a great job if they can offer high quality at such a low price!

                                    2. re: btnfood

                                      ...USDA, which really means nothing, and generally means that they are selling Select. The term Angus can also apply to many types of beef and is not in itself a guarantee of quality.

                                      Pathmark Stores, until earlier this year, was selling as their main featured beef, Black Angus Select....for a dollar more than what other area stores were selling Choice Grade for.


                                      1. re: fourunder

                                        Wow, that's a travesty! And interesting that they are, like Waldbaum's, now owned by A&P.

                                        I think Waldbaum's has a tradtion of good meat departments from the original ownership, just like Food Emporium's ancestor Daitch had great dairy products. But Pathmark, the newer sibling, should be ashamed!

                                        1. re: btnfood

                                          There's a Pathmark store literally two blocks from my house, walking distance. If you read all of my comments in the other thread, you would know I detest Pathmark Stores and shop @ Shop Rite instead....even though I have to travel approximately six miles and fight a NJ State Highway to do so.. Pathmark meats are terrible.

                                  3. re: btnfood

                                    i make an ethical choice, and have the urban convenience to do so, to NOT shop at big box stores. i have access to great butchers, fishmongers, produce shops, excellent cheese and hand-made pasta. chinatown is only a few minutes away.

                                    i have worked in hospitality for years and know the wholesale costs of foods. between the personal relationships i cultivate with the shop owners and the insanely fair pricing they provide, places like costco "can eat my dust".

                                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                                      "i make an ethical choice, and have the urban convenience to do so, to NOT shop at big box stores."

                                      GOOD FOR YOU!

                                      I support Costco because they are responsible and fair with their employees but I very much applaud your commitment to independent local businesses!

                            2. re: fourunder

                              Have you actually been to Costco and seen these prices? I was there last weekend and didn't write actual prices down but they were 1/2 to 1/3 of what you are quoting.
                              The problem with Costco is availability not price. They run out and no reservations.

                              1. re: ginnyhw

                                Have you actually been to Costco and seen these prices?
                                At my local warehouse it's been $9.99-10.99 for most of the year. .....and I shop there every week.
                                Care to more specific on what exactly was 1/2 to 1/3 of what I was quoting? I'm actually going to Costco, again, in a couple of hours and I'll come back with the current price on tenderloin.....but I would be willing to bet tenderloins are not $5-7 per pound. Even RCG1982 agrees the price is more likely to be @$10/lb.

                                1. re: fourunder

                                  I paid $11/lb for boneless Prime at the Costco in Los Angeles. That may be higher than some areas but that's an EXCELLENT price for Los Angeles! And the meat quality is reliably great.

                                  1. re: rainey

                                    My guess is for choice grade Prime Rib and Shell Steak, the price will be $6-7/lb. and Prime will be in the $$9-11/lb. range. ....Prime Beef around my parts for under $15/lb retail was unheard of before this past year.

                                    btw......were you talking about Costco in your example?

                                  2. re: fourunder

                                    In fact, due to the increased demand, prices on tenderloins go up at the clubs every Novemeber/December.

                                  3. re: ginnyhw


                                    Earlier today I was in Costco and I checked on the prices of meat. all I can say is if your local store truly has Whole Tenderloins between 1/2 to 1/3 from the prices I noted upthread, I am truly jealous.......Here are the prices for meat cuts as of today....12/17/2009. All cuts are USDA Choice unless otherwise noted.

                                    Whole Beef Tenderloin .....9.99
                                    Whole Beef Tenderloin (Peeled) 15.99
                                    Whole Boneless Rib Eye......5.99
                                    Bone-In Rib Eye Roast.......6.99
                                    New York Strip Loin.......4.59
                                    Eye Round Roast.......2.99
                                    Rack of Pork.....2.99

                                    Prime Grade Rib Eye Steaks......10.99

                                    these prices were for the Hackensack, NJ location which is less than 10 miles from NYC

                                    1. re: fourunder

                                      Thanks for doing all the leg work for me. Next time I'll wear my glasses. :)