My Story: Calculating Meat Cost Per Serving

contributed by FW

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"Cost per serving? What in the heck is that?" you ask.

How many web sites and thrifty living books have you encountered that give vague statements about buying meat in cost-per-serving as opposed to cost-per-pound, then don't tell you anything about it or how to do it?

Why should you be concerned? Because price per pound does not exclude waste in bones, fat, gristle, and empty cavities containing frozen fluids (in the case of poultry, ice adds to the meat's weight).

I emailed my local Agricultural Extension office to ask about this meat-buying concept, and got an emailed response. They said, "Boneless and ground meat (flank, tenderloin, boneless loin, sirloin butt, sirloin strip, round, liver, heart, kidneys, brains, sweetbreads, tongue, sausages, and wieners) will yield approximately three to four servings per pound. If you take the halfway point (3.5 servings), just divide the cost of the meat per pound by 3.5."

"Meat with a medium amount of bone (rib roasts, rump roasts, chuck, chops, steaks, ham slices, loin roasts, and leg of lamb) will yield two to three servings per pound. Again, take the price of the meat per pound and divide it by 2.5."

"Meat with a large amount of bone (short ribs, neck, breasts, brisket, shank, or shoulder cuts) generally gives 1.5 servings per pound. Divide the cost of the meat per pound by 1.5"

"It is very possible that although these cuts of meat may appear to be inexpensive when compared to other cuts on a per pound basis, when you calculate the cost per serving, some of these cuts may be quite expensive." Reference: Foundations of Food Preparation, 6th edition

Mystery solved. Now I look at frozen hams, turkeys, ducks, and whole chickens in a new light. I think about how much waste is contained in the traditional holiday meats in the form of bones, fat, empty cavity space, and the leftovers that I will have to recycle into and disguise as various dishes. And then there's the expensive ice inside and out.

I'm sticking to boneless and nearly-boneless meats and calculating cost by the serving from now on. We'll also be switching to turkey thighs for the holidays because there's a lot of solid meat, little fat, no gristle, one bone, and no leftovers.

Use this Meat Cost Per Serving calculator to help you calculate and compare the cost per serving of different types and cuts of meat.

"My Story" is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have a story that could help save time or money, please send it by email to MyStory @stretcher.com

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