Getting the Best Out of Beef This Summer

dave zino

Today Executive Chef Dave Zino will share ideas and tips on how to get the best value out of beef. It can be an affordable and lean protein option!

By Chef Dave Zino, Executive Chef, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association

It’s no secret that summer is my favorite time of year. I love everything about it: warm weather, fresh Farmer’s Markets, the opportunity to entertain at home and of course, it’s a prime time to fire up the grill and enjoy succulent lean steaks. Bet you didn’t know that there are 29 lean cuts!

I’m the Executive Chef for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. We’re the org behind the iconic “Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner” tag line and you may be familiar with our popular cooking website  I was happy to hear that Renae accepted my offer to pen a guest blog post. If I had a bit more time and didn’t spend so many hours in the kitchen and on the road, I’d have my own! With the summer grilling season officially underway, I wanted to share some thoughts on how to get the best value out of beef. It IS an affordable option. You don’t have to always opt for the expensive cuts like Filet Mignon. There are fantastic, low-cost cuts that, when prepared with the proper cooking technique, yield juicy, tender, drool-worthy results.

Choosing lean cuts at your grocer’s meat case shouldn’t be intimidating – it should be affordable, quick and easy. In fact, we recently launched the Interactive Meat Case, a new Web tool designed to educate consumers on the cuts they find in today’s case. Busy parents can feel confident that they’re making smart, healthy purchases and kids will love sitting down to a tasty meal.

Below I’ve highlighted some of my best tips for finding value with beef including  cook once and dine twice recipes, evaluating purchases based on cost per serving v. cost per pound and exploring how you can tailor your own Tenderloin steak to produce several cuts for the price of one.  Also, I recently worked with our culinary team to develop four official recipes for the summer grilling season:

Caribbean Burgers Mango Salsa

Getting the Best Value with Beef

  1. Evaluate purchases based on the cost per serving – not just the price per pound. The amount of beef to buy varies with the cut selected. Cooked yields per pound are related to the amount of bone, fat trim and cooking method.
  2. Match the cut with the cooking method. Matching the beef cut to the appropriate cooking method is the key to tender, flavorful beef. For instance, less-tender steak cuts from the Chuck, Round, Plate and Flank (Shoulder steak, Eye Round steak, Top Round steak, Skirt steak, Flank steak) are more affordable, but all require a tenderizing marinade before cooking on the grill, in the broiler or on stove top. Three-Way Marinated Flank Steak is tender and juicy, thanks to a marinade, cooking to medium rare (145°F) doneness and carving across the grain into thin slices. For many less-tender roasts and steaks, moist heat cooking methods, such as braising or using a slow cooker, break down the strong muscle fibers, guaranteeing moist, flavorful results.
  3. Plan ahead to cook once and dine twice. Preparing a little extra ahead of time is an easy way to create beef dishes that are ready to serve without breaking the bank. A grilled steak tonight easily becomes a key ingredient for tomorrow’s protein-packed salad.  For example, the Beef “California Roll” Salad could incorporate a marinated grilled steak from the night before and by adding fresh cucumbers and carrots, the result is a fun lettuce-free salad.
  4. Explore the versatility of lean ground beef. A perfect option for many recipe favorites is 95 percent lean ground beef, a convenient and economical way to add protein to a family meal. The Beef Checkoff recently launched a new advertising campaign featuring six of the most popular lean cuts of beef, one of which is 95 percent lean ground beef.  And Caribbean Beef Burgers with Mango Salsa is one of our official summer grilling recipes, try it out!
  5. Buy in bulk to realize cost savings. Instead of buying pre-cut meat for kabobs, stew and stir-fry, save money by buying steaks or roasts and cutting into cubes or strips. Another approach is to purchase boneless roasts to cut into steaks. Visit these You Tube videos where I offer a demo on how to tailor a Tenderloin and how to get top value from a Top Sirloin steak. Also, your local butcher may be happy to slice them for you without added cost. You can also plan ahead and freeze cut beef for 6 to 12 months.

Those are just five of many tips that are available on Consider us your go-to guide for cooking with beef.  I really look forward to staying in touch and hope that you connect with me on Twitter @zcooks and become fans of our Beef It’s What’s For Dinner Facebook page. If you have any questions, I hope that you’ll post a comment and Renae will connect with me so I can send along a quick answer or provide a helpful link to online info.

Best wishes for a delicious and safe summer grilling season!

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