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The excess - meats and veggies - buy just what you need or pay for the excess?

I love my local Whole Foods and Wegmans and have a great relationship with the butchers and fishmongers and love their quality meats but my only complaint is that they don't trim meats very well or probably trim them such that they are useful to all vs. different amounts of trim based on what you plan to use the cut for. For example, I always have to cut off a good amount of silverskin from the pork tenderloin and they do a pretty spotty job de-skinning fish. Is it appropriate to ask them to trim them more before packaging? Also with things like trimming fish or larger cuts of meat for which the trimmed weight would actually reduce the price (sometimes I have to trim up to 3 or 4 oz which can add up) is it legitimate to ask them to weigh it afterwards? With fish if I am planning a dish for a filet without skin they weigh before removing the skin? I once had a cashier tell me that it's OK to remove the mushroom stems from fresh mushrooms if I don't plan to use them but never have as if I walked upon a bin of mushroom stems I might be a bit frustrated. I know my grandmother used to snap green beans in the store and I've seen people break off broccoli florets as well. Do you buy just want you want in the store or accept the added cost of parts you wont use?

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  1. My mum used to remove the outer leaves of cauliflower in the store, and there was always a bin next to the stand for (seemingly) just that purpose (maybe it was a New Zealand thing, but cauliflower was always sold with the outer leaves, I guess as protection from damage during transportation, and supermarkets expected you to take them off before paying). But it was only a cauliflower thing.

    For other fruits and vegetables....I wouldn't. I guess I just feel like the vendor has paid their supplier for the whole weight, so you pay by-the-weight as it's presented. I wouldn't hull strawberries or take the stalks out of all the mushrooms before paying, in the same way that I wouldn't expect the butcher to charge me the same for a kilo of boned, trimmed meat as they would for meat on the bone (similar to paying more per kilo for shellfish that has been tidied up, like whole vs headless vs headless, shelled prawns).

    If they are willing to do it for you and weigh afterwards, then that's great! However, I wouldn't expect it, and I'm unlikely to ask.

    4 Replies
    1. re: ultimatepotato

      Yea the reason I posted is that I've been hesitant to ask and still buy all my veggies as is.

      1. re: ultimatepotato

        Here in Massachusetts, most supermarkets have a trash bin for corn husks during corn season. I really appreciate this, not because the corn contributes to the weight, but because it is so messy to shuck at home.

        1. re: Isolda

          But it dries out more quickly once husked.

          1. re: Isolda

            They do that here, although I don't utilize. I grill my corn still in the husk.

        2. "is it legitimate to ask them to weigh it afterwards?"

          In my opinion, no. The price they calculate is for the product as it's presented. Around here, untrimmed tri-tip goes for about $3.99. Trimmed tri-tip goes for $4.99. I would expect to pay more for boneless skinless chicken thighs vs. bone-in, skin-on.

          I think snapping the broccoli stalks off is cheating also. At my supermarkets, they offer broccoli stalks and broccoli crowns. The crowns cost more.

          1 Reply
          1. re: seamunky

            I agree, though you seem to have more options available than I do. Of course there are things like bone-in and boneless rib eye and chops but many of the cuts are just what they are.

          2. For the prices that both Weg's and WF charge, they should prep meat and fish to your liking.

            20 Replies
            1. re: treb

              Actually, that is exactly what the cashier said to me when she was discussing the mushrooms and I mentioned the meat and fish. She basically had the opinion that you are the customer and we are here to please you.

              1. re: fldhkybnva

                That totally sounds like Wegmans - I wouldn't hesitate to ask. Here in my neck of the woods, no way. I miss Wegmans SO much!

                1. re: biondanonima

                  It's interesting how that works, I wouldn't even ponder it at any of the other stores I frequent including Safeway or Harris Teeter either.

                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                    I've had the meat/fish guys at Harris Teeter trim and repackage things for me. I still paid for the pre-trim weight, but they had no problem with a "custom" request.

                    1. re: mpjmph

                      Oh, yes they are OK to trim after weighing which prompted my question I guess. I usually only do this with fish though.

                      1. re: mpjmph

                        I actually bought vine-ripened tomatoes last week and pondered whether I could do that since I only wanted 2 of the 4 but just bought them all.

                        1. re: fldhkybnva

                          That seems different to me. I'd take just the number of tomatoes I needed (though not from a clamshell) but I wouldn't, for example, cut one in half because I just needed half a tomato.

                  2. re: fldhkybnva

                    fidhkybnva:
                    so did she say that the store thinks it's ok for you to break off the mushroom stems and discard them before they weigh and charge you for the remainder? after all, since they are there to please you, that should please you, right?

                    what about the brocolli stems?

                    1. re: westsidegal

                      Indeed, that's what she said. I bought some wild shiitake Friday and indeed came home with stems and this morning grabbed some broccoli the stems of which I just hacked off. She seemed to think it was reasonable and well within the customer right but it makes me feel uncomfortable so at least for now I'll be removing the same stems I always have. It's fun to sometimes some up with creative ways to use them :)

                      I did also buy a pork tenderloin which frustratingly was covered in silverskin but oh well, I cut it off and went on. I don't feel comfortable asking which is why I posted the question to see if anyone regularly did request only-to-be-used items.

                      1. re: fldhkybnva

                        LOL. I'd rather break off the florets and just take the broccoli stems.

                        1. re: The Professor

                          Isn't that (the stems) what Chinese broccoli is for?

                          1. re: The Professor

                            Yes, I keep trying to convince my husband and son that the stems are much sweeter than the florets, but they don't think they're edible. Oh well, more for me. When I steam broccoli, I take only the stems for myself and leave the florets for the picky people who want pretty broccoli.

                          2. re: fldhkybnva

                            I wouldn't do that, I'd pay for it whole and then divvy it up the way I see fit. I think the cashier might have been a little bitter about the prices and urged you to "stick it to the man". It's wrong, it's dishonest. They've already trimmed up the produce to the shape they want to sell it as. OP, if you really want to know the answer, go find the produce manager and ask him.

                            1. re: fldhkybnva

                              I've never removed the silver skin from a pork tenderloin.

                              1. re: c oliver

                                I usually remove the silver skin; don't think I've ever bought one already trimmed. But then I'm a skinflint who buys tenderloins by the pair in cryopack (or 2 such packs from Samsclub).

                          3. re: fldhkybnva

                            Not in a million years would I remove the caps of mushrooms from the stems. And if that had been suggested to me, I'd have called the manager when I got home and told her about it.

                            1. re: fldhkybnva

                              Why don't you email customer service at Wegmans? Maybe it's fish trimming services needs a bit more training. I had a funny experience trying to get chicken breasts boned while retaining the skin, and learned that just because someone is wearing a white coat and looking officious doesn't mean he can do anything. Fortunately, another man also in a white coat rushed in to save the situation.

                              1. re: sr44

                                A few months ago, I had looked everywhere for skin-on, boneless chicken thighs for a particular recipe. Needed a dozen. WF to the rescue. He got them ready for me in about ten minutes. And when I opened the package, I had to laugh imagining the mess *I'd* have made if I'd tried to do it.

                          4. It's been my understanding that they weigh the product first, the way that it is presented in the case. You pay that price.

                            If they do any additional trimming or cutting after that, then you either take the loss or take the trimmings/bones with you for another purpose.

                            1 Reply
                            1. The only thing I really "trim" myself in the store is ginger. I rarely need a giant root, so I just break off what I need. But, that's one of the reasons I don't like buying organic broccoli. The stems on the organic broccoli are huge, so you end up paying for a good 6 inches of stem that you aren't going to eat.

                              I can't afford to buy meat from the butcher too often, but when I do, I just take it how they give it to me. I prefer to do my own trimming at home, because I'm a wannabe butcher... so the extra cost counts as amusement haha!

                              But it's interesting, I've noticed at my regular store that when something is on sale, like even chicken breasts, they're not trimmed as nicely as when they're not on sale. I don't know if this has to do with the fact they just don't have the time since they have to prep more of them, or if they're trying to get you to pay more.

                              7 Replies
                              1. re: juliejulez

                                Yes, this is my broccoli experience as well. I buy organic and it's always on huge stems. Even though I eat some of the stem, don't really want all of it which comes with.

                                I do the same with ginger but somehow never thought twice about it as you're leaving a similar useable product for the next person.

                                1. re: juliejulez

                                  but the stems can also be used :) I peel and then use the same as florets, or use for making soups

                                  1. re: KarenDW

                                    Yea, I should have mentioned or just mentioned above that I sometimes use the stems for other things although most of the time we don't. For other things, I save the excess and use it more often like mushroom stems for stock or the teeny tiny garlic cloves to flavor broth.

                                    1. re: KarenDW

                                      I know, I don't mind them actually, but my SO does not like them. I don't make soup :)

                                    2. re: juliejulez

                                      Seriously, the stems are the sweetest part of the broccoli! Just peel and steam them, or peel, shred and steam them, then sauté in a little butter and top with toasted walnuts and salt.

                                      1. re: juliejulez

                                        You reminded me that I trim ginger at the store too, also pretty much the only thing I trim before paying.

                                        The difference is, I know I am guilty of snapping off and taking only the best part from a bigger piece of ginger - the biggest and heaviest knobs. The pieces with tiny, shrivelled and moldy knobs can stay in the bin.

                                      2. I don't buy meat in the supermarket, so it's not an issue. I buy half an animal from a local farmer and cut it up myself. I don't ask the fishmonger to remove the skin, either.

                                        BUT>>>I peel off the dirty, cut, limp outer leaves of a head of cabbage, and I leave behind the 'vine' when buying tomatoes. I see the produce manager at the supermarket removing outer leave to make the cabbages look appealing, I just continue the process. And since you are allowed to pluck a tomato from the vine cluster if you don't want the whole cluster, I pick and choose the amount I want from assorted clusters. Why pay $2,99 lb for the vine that goes in the trash?

                                        1. I think for meat and fish, the product is priced based on the meat before trimming. If you want it trimmed a particular way, then you are responsible for paying for the product pre-trimming.

                                          For produce, if it's an item sold by the pound, in bulk (like where you bag it yourself), then you can choose how many of the item you want, but you shouldn't alter the item to get the choicest parts, such as whole broccoli versus broccoli crowns. If you want just the crowns, then you should buy the higher priced crowns, not the cheaper whole broccoli with stems and then snap the stems off. That's a bit unethical IMO. Tomatoes by the pound can be bought per tomato -- you don't have to buy the whole "group" on the vine. but tomatoes in a clamshell should be left as-is, which also means you can't open 2-3 packages to rearrange the tomatoes so you get the all the best ones.

                                          1. Time/labor vs Money. Prep work costs, one way or t'other.

                                            1. << is it legitimate to ask them to weigh it afterwards?>>

                                              not in my book.
                                              not at all.

                                              1. Regarding how cuts are prepared -

                                                I am not in a grocery store environment, and instead have to choose from a number of fish mongers in an open air market. So if you don't like the skinning job of one vendor, it's not really out of my way to try another. That being said - some of the vendors are excellent with how they skin fish - and others just aren't. With the bad ones I'm not sure if asking them to do a better job would help all that much when some vendors do an excellent job and others are dreadful.

                                                1. Tonight while SO and I prepared our usual multi-weekly asparagus, he muttered in frustration that the spears in each bundle were 1/4 skinny 1/4 fat and 1/2 just right. When you plan to use a full bundle or two for a single meal prep it's somewhat problematic. I don't see a day when I'll be comfortable removing mushroom stems or broccoli stems, but of course this reminded him of this thread and he inquired as to whether I'd be comfortable to resorting bundles of asparagus. While he didn't think he'd actually take the time to pick and choose and ensure that only bundles remained in the bin, his logic was that perhaps this would be legitimate as it's somewhat similar to breaking off a piece of ginger - it's the same price by the lb and you're not altering the product for anyone who comes behind you. I just thought I'd post the question here - what do you think?

                                                  12 Replies
                                                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                    I actually love people like that. I'm a little wary about rearranging bundles of asparagus or taking only half a bundle. But I love it when someone else has done it already and I can take what they have left behind. Same with cherries and grapes.

                                                    1. re: viperlush

                                                      Wow, I've never seen any left from someone else having done it.

                                                      1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                        When I see it happening it's usually the little old men or women doing it. I patiently wait until they are done and swoop in for the remaining.

                                                    2. re: fldhkybnva

                                                      Oh for heaven's sake- get three bundles, divide them up according to the Three Bears standards, and make three meals out of them. Varied sizes are obvious when you see them in the produce section, so either buy them elsewhere where they're more uniform in size or get multiples and size them together. You do NOT get a pass for being scroungy and trying to size up your own bundles after they've already been bundled. Period. Either buy the unit or don't.
                                                      You did say you have asparagus multiple times a week, did you not?

                                                      1. re: EWSflash

                                                        Uh, it was just a question. As I wrote I don't do this and probably wouldn't feel comfortable doing it but was pondering if it made any sense to feel that way. Also as stated we tend to eat 2 bundles in a single setting between us and sometimes more and so it's not really feasible to split them and use them separately. I don't see this as scroungy. Yes, multiple times a week with multiple bundles each time.

                                                        1. re: EWSflash

                                                          I can't think of seeing a bundle where they weren't all pretty much in the same size range.

                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                            Well, I guess our stores bundle them differently. I had a bundle recently with the thickest spears I've seen this season mixed with the thinnest spears which were hard to discern from the outside as they were tucked in and so small. I guess your source packages them more logically.

                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                              The bundle I bought the other day had varying sizes. We use about half a bundle with each meal, so I just tried to divide them so the thinner ones were in one group, and the thicker ones were in another. But that would be hard if we planned on using the entire bunch in one meal.

                                                              1. re: juliejulez

                                                                I love roasted asparagus but it doesn't work well with the skinny minny spears. If anyone has any good ideas that'd be great!

                                                                1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                  I've been grilling lately, it works for any thickness, just have to keep an eye on it.

                                                                  I'm trying this recipe out next week I think, looks like something you'd like minus the rice, has brown sugar in it though: http://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-pork-...

                                                                  I also think thinner asparagus works well for salads, just lightly blanched. Oh, and I have this stuffed chicken recipe saved that might be good: http://bevcooks.com/2013/01/cheesy-as... I know how much you like your stuffed chicken.

                                                          2. re: fldhkybnva

                                                            pretty sure that the bundles are made up at random, for a specific weight (i.e., 3/4 lb). So, in the same philosophy as breaking bananas from the bunch, or splitting a bunch of grapes, yes, I would split up an asparagus bunch, if needed.

                                                            1. re: KarenDW

                                                              Yea, they all seem to weigh the same which is why I worry if you reassorted that then they wouldn't but then again you pay per lb so if someone wants more and it looks lighter then can just get more.

                                                          3. At there prices they could do a better job. Don't hesitate to ask them trim better if they did a poor job.

                                                            Leave the broccoli alone though

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: scubadoo97

                                                              Yea, I am still frustrated about a pork tenderloin from this past weekend which was covered in silver skin and my whole fish which did have more than a few remaining scales but I guess it's easier to just "fix" it at home.

                                                            2. At my local fishmonger, the prices are clearly labeled - filet, bone-in, or whole. I guess they've learned their lesson. It saves them time explaining and left with an unsatisfied customer. Sole filets are priced about 3x more expensive than whole.

                                                              As for veggies, I can't bring myself to break off the "good" parts and leave the stems behind. Ginger and bananas are a different story. I peel the broccoli stem, cut it up and eat it with the florets. If I leave the stem behind, more than likely it'll be tossed into the trash. Not very good for the environment and a waste of perfectly good food.

                                                              1. This is a petty complaint, in my opinion, and without merit. The price per unit is as it is displayed, not after additional requested trimming. You probably get the extra labor of trimming for nothing, and you should be satisfied with that.

                                                                1. When a fish is fileted or a meat is boned, you are paying more for the labor (boneless chicken breasts cost more per pound than bone-in ones, for example), so I don't think it's reasonable to ask them to weigh it again and pay less after they've done this work for you. Last week, for example, I needed a boneless pork shoulder, but they charged me a slightly higher amount per pound after they boned it for me, which was fine. They did the extra work and should rightly have been paid for it.

                                                                  1. My local supermarket has a big sign up over the whole-fish counter saying that prices are based on whole fish before cleaning (scaling, degutting, etc).

                                                                    For other foods it's less obvious. But I would NOT consider it OK to separate mushroom cap from stem or broccoli florets from stems etc and not consider that stealing.

                                                                    1. At pretty much all the places where I shop in Toronto, all the broccoli and cauliflower are priced per head, so for me it is just a matter of picking the biggest, best-looking ones.

                                                                      For fish, I try to accept whatever policy they have (weigh before cleaning, poor job scaling, additional cost for cleaning) because I do not think it is worth the trouble negotiating for something different. However, when it comes to buying salmon at the counter, I always ask the fishmonger to cut the specific portion from the specific piece that I find the fattiest!

                                                                      1. Fish market - the employees will skin the fish, but weigh it first. So basically, you're paying for the skin but the work of removing it is being done

                                                                        Butcher- he'll prep anything exactly how I want it, but usually will charge a bit more per pound. Say, I want a brisket cut into cubes, it'll be $13.99/lb rather than $10.99/lb