The Definitive Guide to Ground Beef & Ground Meats
The weather is getting warmer (for most of us!) and that means it’s time to start getting those grills ready! Can you smell the hamburgers yet? Before we can grill them up and take that first juicy bite, we need to make sure we buy the right kind of ground beef.
Going to the meat counter can be confusing; there are so many different types of ground beef. What do the labels mean? And which one will give us the best burger? Let’s break them down one by one and see if we can solve this dilemma.
The 5 Types of Ground Beef:
1. The most basic package you’ll find will be marked “hamburger”. This is ground from less tender cuts of beef, and often contains trimmings from various cuts. It can have up to 30% fat, some of which might be added fat (allowed by the USDA).
2. Next you’ll find “ground beef”. Technically this is the same as “hamburger”, but with no added fillers or fat. Although it can have a fat content of up to 30%, it will generally be closer to 20-25%.
3. “Ground chuck” comes from the shoulder area of a cow. It has a fat content of 15-25%.
4. “Ground round” comes from the rear/upper flank of a cow. Since this area gets more exercise, it is lower in fat; generally 10-15% fat.
5. Finally, you’ll see “ground sirloin”. This comes from the sirloin area, which is right in front of the Round. (Filet Mignon comes from this general area). This has a fat content of 8-10%.
Other Distinctions to Look For:
Besides looking at the type of ground meat, you’ll want to look for a designation of the beef’s leanness. To be designated lean, the beef can’t have more than 22% fat, regardless of the cut it came from. To be designated extra lean, it can have no more than 15% fat. You’ll want to check with your butcher or meat counter though, as each has their own standards for fat percentages in ground beef.
For juicy hamburgers you want a ground beef with higher fat content. Use “hamburger”, “ground beef”, or “ground chuck” for the most flavorful juicy burgers. But remember that with a higher fat content, your meat will shrink as it cooks.
Lower fat ground beef tends to cook up dryer, so it’s best suited for meals like chili or spaghetti. If your recipe calls for you to brown the beef and drain it, it really doesn’t matter which type you use. But if you’re incorporating the raw meat into the recipe with other ingredients (like meatloaf), it’s usually better to use leaner beef.
Many people are turning to alternatives to red meat for health concerns. These meat products can be just as confusing. Here are some of the more popular red meat alternatives.
Other Types of Ground Meat:
1. Ground turkey: Can include both white and dark meat, or just dark. May also contain skin. It is usually 7-17% fat, but this varies by processor.
2. Ground turkey breast: This includes only all white breast meat, with no skin. It is usually 1-3% fat.
3. Ground pork: Generally 16% fat.
4. Ground buffalo: Can be up to 97% lean.
Many frugal homemakers may already know that buying ground meat is an affordable way to cut your grocery bill without losing the protein in your family’s diet. However, if you’d like to take your frugal cooking to a whole new level, check out our money saving tips for stretching ground meat with frugal fillers.
Before you leave, print out our Take and Make Menu Plan of frugal ground meat printable recipes to try as well.
Tiffany is a stay-at-home mom to a teen, a toddler, and is expecting number three in June. You can catch her blogging over a cup of coffee at Lattes And Life. Subscribe to her free RSS feed to read more from Tiffany or get her Twitter feed @give_me_a_latte.
Visit Works for Me Wednesday at We are That Family for more helpful information for moms by moms. Check out Kitchen Tip Tuesday. Ground chuck photo by yummyporky. Barbecue photo by (nutmeg).