The One Thing You Should Ask Your Butcher to Do

Hint: It's in their name.

How to Shop for Ground Beef
Photo: Ted Morrison/Getty Images

If you're like me, every week, you probably find yourself contemplating the shrink-wrapped offerings at your grocery store's meat department. I tend to grab what I need for that week's meals for our family of three—a four-pack of chicken breasts for a Tuesday night stir-fry, pork tenderloin for a Sunday roast, and a pound of ground beef for meatballs—toss everything into my cart, and move along to the next aisle. Keep it moving, that's my grocery shopping philosophy.

A sale sign might catch my eye: "Two-for-One Ground Beef" or "10% Off Family Pack Pork Chops", but I usually don't take advantage unless the item is on my list. And because we're such a small family, four pounds of ground beef isn't usually on the list.

"But why don't you just freeze some of the meat?" you ask. "Don't you have a freezer?" Good question. And yes, I do. I'll be honest—I don't want to. Portioning out four pounds of ground beef into manageable pound or half-pound amounts and storing it properly so that it does not get freezer burned is not something I want to do with my very limited free time. I'd rather finish unloading the groceries and play with my kid. Or take a nap. And if you're being honest, it's probably not something you want to do either.

Which is why we should ask our butchers to do it for us. Whether you shop at an artisanal butcher shop or a regular old supermarket, the employees are there to do more than stock the cases. They're also there to cut meat. If meat is on sale, but only sold in bulk, they can cut it as necessary and re-package it into smaller shrink-wrapped packages that can be stored in the freezer and defrosted as needed, no additional leg work required. They will even cut up whole chickens for you, which also saves valuable time in the kitchen.

WATCH: 5 Things You Should Never Do With Ground Beef

(One caveat: If you are planning to freeze the meat for a longer period of time, like several months, you should take the extra step of removing it from the original packaging and storing it in a freezer bag. Push as much air out of the bag as possible to prevent freezer burn.)

Yes, this request will take a few extra minutes of your time at the supermarket (and your most polite, favor-asking voice) but the men and women in the meat department will likely be happy to help—and your grocery bill will likely be a bit lower.

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