Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Buying "soon to expire" meat


Snadra
 Share

Recommended Posts

Recently my husband and I realised that when we do the groceries we tend to cruise the meat and cheese aisles looking for the 'reduced' stickers on the packaging, and have generally stopped buying meat that isn't. While it does mean we have to deal with what we buy rather quickly, it also means that the organic and free range products becomes a lot more affordable (as a rule they are what we stick to, discounted or otherwise).

We end up with a lot of chicken thighs and rump steak (although when one Woolworths was newly opened there was a lovely time when they were regularly discounting premium meats by 50%). It's a good job I've learned to enjoy thighs, because there was a time I couldn't stand them! But we are sale chasers anyway - the perpetual sale cycle of the retailers has trained us rarely to pay full price - note everyone feels the same way. Certainly, my in-laws have looked at me oddly when I bring home a lovely wedge of Brie or packet of lamb with a discount sticker on it. My feeling is that as long as we are using the meat before it's expiry date and storing it properly it's just as good as anything else. And I prefer soft cheese to be fully ripe!

Are we the only ones who do this? Does near-expiry discounting change how you shop and cook?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I check that bin first because on occasion there is something I would really like there. The best I ever got was a big packet of veal shank. I tend to bring the packet to my nose and do a deeep sniff. I have never had a regret. That said- I only buy the type of meat that I really want to cook with soon.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, I definitely look for this stuff. I love the random surprise of it, as forces you to think creatively, en ce moment, about you're going to cook, which I really enjoy. And I hate thinking about the wastage of that stuff just being thrown away by the store.

I actually believe meat should, in normal circumstances, NOT be cheap; it's a life, after all, and farming well and humanely isn't cheap. That said, I'm more than happy to pay less for it if it's otherwise going to be thrown away.

Some of my best finds were a whole duck reduced to $5, a whole deboned and stuffed organic chicken for $7, $10 a kilo free range pork belly...etc etc. Harris Farms is pretty good for discounting like this, and I'm guilty of cackling gleefully to anyone who'll listen for hours if there's something REALLY special (like the whole sides of smoked salmon for $12 recently!).

And I'm like you, I actively look for soft cheeses near their expiry date..surely that's when it's at its best!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have occasionally gotten those discount meats. Most of the time, the "best by" date is only a day or two before the regular price stuff! But between farmers markets and Costco, I rarely get meats at grocery stores....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Absolutely! I rarely shop in bulk, so if I'm at the grocery store I'm seeking immediate gratification anyway. It's likely cooked the same or next day latest...

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I worked at Coles as a teenager, so I can offer some insight into how they managed the use-by dates in their meat department (beef,lamb and pork. Not chicken). They might have changed their policies since I left 15 years ago, but I don't think they will have.

Firstly, all meat is butchered on the premises from carcasses, and once a cut of meat is packaged up it is labelled with a use-by date four days ahead. This is probably the main thing to know - that Coles has decided that freshly butchered meat should be used in 4 days.

Secondly, Coles allocate one day for the meat to sit in the customers refrigerator, so they want it sold in three days.

Thirdly, if the meat hasn't sold after the second day, it is grouped according to quality and minced. All mince is sold the day it is made, and if it fails to sell at the end of the day it is thrown out.

So to clarify:

Day 1: Meat is butchered and packaged and offered for sale at full price.

Day 2: Meat is reduced in price towards the end of the day to help it sell.

Day 3: Any unsold meat from Day 2 is graded and minced. Unsold mince is thrown out.

I can suggest from personal experience that beef can easily last for more than four days after it is freshly butchered. This also means that the most expensive grade of mince at Coles is made from the best cuts of beef, including eye fillet, rib eye, sirloin and rump.

Anyway thought you might find it interesting...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I will definitely buy meat that is on sale and near its expiry date except for ground meat of any sort or offal- just being finicky perhaps! Stores here seem to offer this for a time and then stop. Not sure of the reason - better inventory control maybe. I have never had "bad" meat that I have bought this way.

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I thought the "reduced" stickers/bins meant "if it doesn't sell today, take it in the back and put a new date on it". :raz: But no, I don't buy it. Mainly because I don't trust the local store to not do what I mentioned above so I'm wondering how old it really is if they're actually going to let it go for less.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Meat - Never. I barely trust the food handling in most supermarket meat departments, even as it pertains to the freshest stuff.

Isn't there enough of the fresher stuff that goes on sale to provide you with the challenge of cooking something that you might not be thinking about cooking?

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My sniff test is pretty critical, and I hate to throw out meat. So I check the dates carefully and never buy anything that didn't just hit the shelf. Nonetheless I end up discarding meat, particularly chicken, about once a month, or more depending on where I shop. Pork sometimes fails as well, beef not so often. The upside is an unexpected dinner out.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

recently I did this with beef shoulder for SV. it was reduced quite a bit so I tried it.

The meat had no real aroma out of the package, but when I SV'd it for the usual time and temp I like for Chuck rare 131 48 - 72 this was the only meat that came out meally. It was horrible. I could barely eat it, and my Cat (fat) on the right refused.

Maybe the extra day(s) on the counter influenced the enzymatic effects on the meat pre-SV.

has this happend to anyone else? I saved a few bucks but suffered for it.

I usually SV 'in-bulk' with meat thats on sale for the week or from BJ's (a form of Costo)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think there may be regional differences at play here, if not between states, then at least between Canada and the USA. DH does almost all the meat buying so I have asked him for his response to this question. (Plus we never eat hamburger unless it is ground from a roast.)

That said. Where we live in Canada, there is very seldom any meat sold past its prime date. What they do with it we don't know. I'll ask when we are home again. Our local butcher, in our nearby tiny town, reduces meat prices regularly, but then his regular prices are higher than in the city and you have to catch the stuff on the fly and there's little of it. Mainly beef liver is at a sale price, all of which goes to the pups. DH will not eat liver. Period. (Oh, the main reason we have a butcher is that he owns the building in which the grocery is housed. Don't think that all tiny ON towns have butchers on the premise.)

Here in Utah, the local Kroger has a huge past prime date bin and we have basically been living from it, both for the dogs and for us. American meat prices, to begin with, are quite a bit lower than anything we have seen in Ontario. The past prime costs are such a treat and the dogs have never eaten so well. (Not to mention that back home we NEVER see gizzards and hearts and the like for sale in a grocery store.)

I have bought a lot of past prime pork and chicken thighs for us to eat. Just chuck it into the crock pot over night, and then debone, defat, cut up, shred, etc, in the am and pack it into the freezer. It becomes a variety of dishes as we go. BTW, we are NOT big meat eaters at all. "Lessmeatarians" as Bittman calls it.

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We call these great deals "used meat". Best selection usually early in the day. I check them every time I go to the market.

Saw a USDA Choice 2.75lbs. porterhouse the other day for $5.99/lb. We have been limiting our beef consumption lately some some other lucky person took that sucker home.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It sounds like many people don't trust their supermarket to manage the meat properly. Nibor, I was especially curious about buying meat that just hit the shelves. Do you not trust that the refrigeration is keeping the meat cold enough?

Weinoo, I simply don't see much that is interesting go on sale, beyond industrially produced pork and chicken.

The premium-cuts-to-mince procedure that Chris mentioned is interesting, and although there is a lot less actual butchering occurring at retail sites in general I suspect it is still the norm. As a rule we stick to free-range and organic meat (whether discounted or not) and my understanding is that it arrives at the supermarket prepackaged and is not processed on site (yes, we would visit a farmers market, but the one nearest me makes me want to beat my head against a wall, and the rest are simply too far away to contemplate). The packaging probably gives me a little more confidence in its safety, although that confidence may be misplaced. We have never had a problem.

My best find ever was whole beef fillets discounted 60%. They were delicious!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I buy marked down meat all the time. We do a huge quarterly shop at Sam's Club and they often have Reduced! items in the coolers with the newer meats. We've saved a fortune and I've never had a problem but perhaps that is because these are cuts of beef only. One of my favorite freezer bins is the marked down bin. I just bought frozen duckling for 98¢ a pound, marked down from $3.98 a pound.

I also repackage all of the meats in new packets and put them in the chest freezer. We live way out in the country and a chest freezer is your friend when the roads are frozen solid.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I often buy beef (strips and tenderloin) marked down because of expiration date, but never ground beef - and never chicken and pork.

In this week's issue of the Free Press (a local free paper) Tom Sadowski, who writes weekly and entertaining pieces, devotes this week's column to the subject at hand - Cooking with Tainted Beef :shock:

(Small font so you may want to increase the size.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It sounds like many people don't trust their supermarket to manage the meat properly. Nibor, I was especially curious about buying meat that just hit the shelves. Do you not trust that the refrigeration is keeping the meat cold enough?

Hi Snadra,

I don't have any ideas or knowledge about how meat is refrigerated in stores. I know nothing about it. I just know what my nose knows - if I get it home and it doesn't smell fresh, I dump it. Now that I think about it I suppose I could try to buy unpackaged rather than packaged meats, and thus be able to do the sniff test prior to purchase, but the meats my store offers unpackaged are not what I typically buy - the unpackaged meats are usually very expensive cuts like crown roast. I should add that I am not shopping at cheap places - I wish! I live in one of the most expensive parts of southern california, and am paying through the nose for this stuff.

nibor

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was raised on discounted meats, what we sometimes referred to as "green beef". Today, I never, ever look at the dates on packaged meat in the supermarket, and every time I go to the store, I scan the meat section for the reduced stickers looking for interesting bargains. (Today they had a whole leg of lamb for $2 a pound! Unfortunately, I didn't have the money in the food budget to buy a 14-lb hunk of meat even at that price.) I can't ever remember getting bad meat as a result of these habits.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I consistently shop the "used meat" section in the supermarket. Yesterday it yielded me two whole fryers at 49 cents per pound, one of which went into my oven as soon as I got home and the other of which went into the freezer for a similar treatment later. Also scored two four-pound chuck roasts for a little more than $14, and one of those is in the fridge waiting to be turned into bouef bourguignon today for consumption later this week. The other is vacuum sealed and in the freezer. I also have about four pound packages of ground lamb, reduced price between $2 and $3, in my freezer; need to get busy and use those. I buy my ground beef and steaks from the farmers' market, but for meat preps that are going to be highly seasoned/sauced, I find little taste difference in "used meat."

I did buy some marked-down ground turkey, planning on turkey meatballs, and wound up throwing it out when I didn't use it in a day or so.

Don't ask. Eat it.

www.kayatthekeyboard.wordpress.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Man, I need a better supermarket. I would have stretched my budget to pick up a bunch of those chickens and chuck roasts. Not only do I never see chicken below about $.89/lb or chuck under about $2.99/lb, I hardly ever see chuck roasts as large as 3 lb, let alone 4.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...