How To Read A Meat Label
The most expensive purchases at the grocery store tends to be in the meat department. So how can you save money on your grocery budget while putting the most meat product on your table?
That is what we are going to explore today. One way to do that is to understand what the meat label is telling you. Interpreting the information written on the meat label is important. So let’s get started at exploring the data.
The 4 Key Points On The Label
There is a lot of data on a meat label to interpret. Some is not as important as others. We are going to focus on the 4 key points that you need to be able to locate on a meat label quickly.
- Name of the Meat and the type of cut. Is it Boneless or not? Sometimes this is a feature you need to know.
- Total Price. This is important, after all, this is what you will be paying at the cash register. You need to know if you have that much money to pay for it.
- Net Weight. The weight of the meat is important to know when determining to buy a certain package of meat. For instance, you are trying to buy 1 pound of ground beef for a recipe you are making, such as, Cheeseburger Mini Meatloaf. In that case, you need to know that you require a package labeled with at least 454 g of ground beef in it. That is because when you do the conversion: 1 lb = 454 grams. As you will discover here in Canada, our meats are labeled in weight by metric, not imperial measurements.
- Unit Price. Price Per Kilogram. By locating this number quickly you can see at a glance if this meat product is on sale or not. Is it a bargain? Will you be saving money?
What Is A Bargain Price?
One of the first things to determine is what is a good price and what isn’t. Over the years, in my experience, I have learned to NEVER buy meats labeled at prices higher than $8.80/kg. Be on the hunt for meal labels saying $8.80/kg or LESS. For my American friends that would be $3.99/lb or less.
The grocery flyer though can be very confusing to you, the consumer. Prices listed in the flyer are calculated to show you how much to pay per pound of meat. Such as this example:
Top Sirloin Family Pack Steak $7.99/lb
Now at first glance, you might be attracted to this package of meat, just based on the words “Family Pack”. However, just because it says Family Pack doesn’t mean it is a good deal for your family. And when you get into the store and try to find this meat cut—you can’t find anything labeled $7.99/lb. No, rather, you find:
Top Sirloin Family Pack Steak $17.61/kg
Is that the same thing? Yes, it is, and it is NOT a bargain.
Many times you can find a variety of meats, fish, and poultry for less than $8.80/kg. So knowing that the highest price to pay is $8.80/kg, then anything that is labeled as less than $8.80/kg is a bargain.
The Store And The Grocery Flyer Display Different Prices
I find I just have to go almost blind to the big printed price listed in the grocery flyer. That is because in the store, you will never find it displayed that way anyways. I do a quick glance over the grocery flyer page. I have learned that $8.80/kg is the same thing as $3.99/lb.
$3.99/lb = $8.80/kg
As you glance over the grocery flyer page, train your mind and eyes to only focus on meat cuts that are listed at $3.99/lb or less. Always be looking for the prices less than $3.99/lb.
You’ve found the Meat Item in the flyer for $3.99/lb. It is also a beef product. Now look for the small print in the advertisement. You will find it reads $8.80/kg. This is the price you will be looking for in the grocery store. You won’t find this meat item displayed at $3.99/lb. The display label and the label on the meat will read $8.80/kg. So you must train your eyes and mind to hunt that number down.
Where Can The Price Per Kilogram Be Found?
The first, and most important item to locate on the meat label is the price per kilogram. If there is no other part on the meat label that you learn to identify—this is it! Just locating this number, even on a busy schedule will have you in and out of the grocery store quickly with the best meat bargains.
Look at this Chicken Leg Meat Label. Notice the price? What a superb shopping deal! This wasn’t $8.80/kg, it wasn’t even $6.50/kg. I was able to get these Chicken Legs for the low price of $3.28/kg.
On this label the Price per Kilogram area is identified by a heading of $/kg.
The advertisement in the grocery flyer stated that the Chicken Legs were $1.49/lb. That is less than $3.99/lb, so the price of $1.49/lb caught my attention in the grocery flyer. But to find this deal in the grocery store, I needed to write on my shopping list the $3.28/kg price so I would know what I was looking for.
Meat Label Example 2
Let’s look at another meat label. You will see that different manufacturers place this information in slightly different locations.
On this meat label the area is labeled more clearly as: PRICE PER/kg.
So the next time you are in the grocery store, stop and carefully look over the labels in the meat department. Can you identify where the Price Per Kilogram description is on the meat label? As you get better and faster at locating this very important detail, you will be able to snatch up the best deals in the meat department.
The next important item to identify on a meat label is the total cost. Quite simply, that is the amount you will be paying at the cash register. Fortunately you don’t have to pay taxes on real food items such as meat. So the posted total cost price is the actual total cost.
Just like the Price per Kilogram information can be in different locations on a meat label, so can the Total Cost information. However, the Total Cost information is usually the clearest, largest, and boldest information on the label. This is demonstrated in the following 2 labels.
Another key thing to identify on a meat label is the net weight of the meat you are buying. Especially if you need a certain amount of meat for a specific recipe. As most Cookbooks and Recipes call for meat calculations in pounds, you also need to be able to do some quick math in your head.
Let’s look at this label for an example:
As you can see, the Net Weight is identified to be 1.486 kg. Well, in my mind, I quickly round that up to be 1 ½ kilograms. I also know that 454 g or roughly 500 g is equal to 1 pound. That means that this package of meat weighs approximately 3 pounds.
This isn’t an exact calculation, but it works quickly for you to know if this is going to be enough meat for your family. Especially if you know you need ¼ pound of meat per child and ½ pound of meat per adult. A little quick math and you know how many packages of a certain meat you need to purchase in order to feed your family.
When it comes to a meat such as Ground Beef, and the recipe calls for 1 pound, it doesn’t matter really whether your package of meat is 454 grams or 500 grams. It doesn’t have to be exact. But in order for a recipe to work best, it helps to know that the minimum amount of meat you need to put in it is at least 454 grams. A little extra meat will bulk up your recipe, whereas, if not enough meat, your finished dish might be too runny or sloppy.
So this takes care of the 3 most important items to identify on a meat label.
Type Of Meat
The last item to know how to identify is the name of the meat cut. Are you looking for Beef, Pork, Chicken or something else? Recently, this identification is more necessary to look at, especially in the area of ground meats.
As the cost of Beef tends to be quite high and the sale of Ground Beef has dropped as a result, manufacturers are trying to sell a mixed blend.
This new mixed blend of Ground Meat is identified as some proportion of Ground Beef and Ground Pork. Sometimes it is identified as a 50%-50% blend, and other times it is in different proportions.
Although in the past it was pretty easy to tell the difference between meats, there may be times when you want to know the specific cut of Pork Chop, or Steak or Roast.
Being able to identify this section of a meat label is important too. See the example below:
In this case, it is clear that it is Chicken Legs with the Back Attached. Right there it is easy to know that these are bigger meat portions. So you can look at it that if you have small children you could cut each Chicken Leg into 2 portions. One portion the drumstick, and the other portion the attached back.
As well, this label identifies that there could be a likelihood of chicken kidneys attached. This is to make you aware of that if you have an issue with this. The two bags of Chicken Legs that I purchased didn’t have any kidneys attached, but it wasn’t a concern for me.
Identifying The Bargain
What did we learn from learning how to read a meat label? In the Chicken Leg example:
- Name or type of Meat – Chicken Legs with Back Attached. This tells me it is larger portions of meat. They could also be divided into smaller portions to make more servings.
- Total Price–$4.82–I know how much money I’ll be paying at the cash register. It also helps me to calculate how much each serving of meat costs per person. In this bag there were 4 Chicken Legs. When you divide $4.82 by 4, it equal $1.21 per serving (Chicken Leg). However, if you divide the Chicken Legs into Drumsticks and Backs, you double your servings to 8. In that case, $4.82 divided by 8 equals $0.60 per person for a meal.
- Net Weight– 1.470 kg—This means that it is almost 1 ½ kilograms of meat weight or otherwise, almost 3 pounds of Chicken Legs in this package.
- Unit Price–Price Per Kilogram–$3.28/kg–Was this a bargain? YES! It has been determined that you should only buy meats that are $8.80/kg or less ($3.99 a pound or less). At $3.28 a kilogram, this is a bargain!
By learning how to read a meat label you are now EMPOWERED towards a HOPE and a FUTURE when it comes to shopping for meat products for your family. Now you know how to find the best deals quickly, allowing you to stretch your grocery dollars further as you put more food on your table.