Cooking TipsIngredient Guides14 Things To Look For When Buying Meat

14 Things To Look For When Buying Meat

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David Larsen
I’m a husband, dad, food blogger, photographer, writer, social media boss, entrepreneur.

Meat has always been the ideal source of protein. Aside from protein, it’s also packed with vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids that help maintain the right nutritional balance in your body. It’s critical to choose the proper kind of meat if you want to get the most of this nutrition source in your diet.

If you’re looking for good-quality meat, whether to stock up on your daily supply at home or to prepare for a family gathering over the weekends, there are several factors to consider. For instance, to ensure you find a good selection of meat products, checking out reliable sources such as Grand Peaks Prime Meats and others would be a good starting point. 

In addition to sourcing your meat from reputable suppliers, here are several elements to watch out for if you’re buying meat:

1. Meat Color 

fresh meat on slate

If you’re planning to purchase meat, color is one of the crucial considerations. Always remember that the right color will depend on the type of meat you’re planning to buy.

Most people who head over to the grocery store usually go for the appealing, bright-red slab on display. Keep in mind that fresh flesh appears purplish. As meat is left out in the open, exposure to oxygen causes the meat pigments to generate a distinctive red color.

When it comes to red meat, ideally, it must be in a dark shade ranging from a reddish, brownish, and purplish tinge. If the meat appears brown in appearance, it has been left out in the open. However, it’s still safe to consume.  

Pork should have a faint reddish hue. Game meat, on the other hand, is frequently dark brown. Steer clear of meat that’s pale in appearance. Lamb meat or mutton should be pinkish and soft to the touch, while any fat or marbling must be white. 

As for poultry products, the color tends to vary. The reason for the color variance in the meat color is their diet. Fresh poultry comes in a variety of colors ranging from bluish-white to even yellow.  

2. Texture  

When selecting meat in the market, you should choose those with a firm, dense, and dry texture. The muscle fibers must be tightly packed and uniform.  

If the meat you’re checking out seems to fall apart, it might be due to poor quality or handling. When buying poultry meat, make sure that you’ll get choices that are firm and dry. When the meat is sticky or slimy, it’s best to look for other options. Remember that it’s also applicable to all types of meats, whether you’re buying lamb, beef, pork, or chicken.  

3. Smell  

When it comes to meat odor, most people can’t tell if it’s normal or if it’s already ruined. Smelling the meat is one of the easiest ways to tell if it’s still fresh. Avoid any cuts that have a terrible odor.

4. Meat Surface  

raw meat assortment

When you closely inspect meat products, you’re likely to see the meat fibers. The look of the meat fibers is a factor in determining if the meat is soft or rough.

A coarse slice having several visible muscle fibers is usually tough but offers better flavor, making them ideal choices for recipes requiring slow cooking.

If you’re planning to buy beef tenderloin, you’re unlikely to see these fibers on the surface, which means that the meat will have a softer consistency.  

5. Firmness Of The Meat  

Fresh meat should neither be too tough nor too soft when it comes to its firmness. The best way to determine this is to poke the meat.  

You’ll know you have good quality meat when it bounces back to its original shape after you press it slightly. If the meat doesn’t return to its original form after poking, it’s a sign that it’s been on display for a long time.  

Additionally, good meat shouldn’t appear clear and damp when sliced. When cut, the meat also shouldn’t fall off easily. Moreover, when the fat has a yellowish tinge, it means that meat is no longer fresh.

6. Amount Of Fat In The Meat 

Almost any type of meat contains a certain level of fat. A slice with several streaks of fat will ensure a juicier and tender piece after cooking. The term marbling refers to the stripes of fat on the meat. If a cut has thin layers of marbling, expect a tastier piece when cooked.

7. Clean Cuts  

If you want to ensure good-quality meat, one thing you should check is the appearance of the slices. Make it a priority to look for smooth cuts in uniform sizes and avoid jagged-edged portions, especially when buying poultry meats.  

Poor-grade poultry doesn’t go through meticulous butchering, so there’s a lack of proper care when removing the bones and joints. If you dislike having small bones in your chicken, it’s best to go for higher-grade cuts.  

8. Right Cut

When selecting the ideal meat, the cut refers to the part of the animal the meat came from. Remember that good-quality meat typically comes from the back or rear section, such as the rump, ribs, and tenderloin. Through the years, the meat from the back of an animal has become more popular, which is why they have a higher price tag. Additionally, a good cut of meat is easier to prepare and cook. The cuts from other parts of the animal’s body are usually more rigid and take longer to cook. 

Some of the tender cuts of beef, such as ribeye or porterhouse, are ideally cooked under direct heat and high temperatures. As for cuts such as the skirt or flank, they require marination to help tenderize the meat before cooking at high temperatures. When it comes to lean cuts, you can simmer the meat at low temperatures to make it tender. 

9. Food Safety Standards 

You should also check if the meat complies with safety standards. Today, all packed meat products should be approved by the food and safety department. Make sure to check for the certification label on the packaging to ensure the product has passed the necessary standards and requirements. If you can’t find one, it’s a good reason to look for another source of meat products.

10. Best Before Dates 

When it comes to the quality of the meat, you need to check on the best before dates. The date serves as a basis for how fresh a product is before a set date. The food is still edible after a particular date, but it is up to the consumers to determine if they’re going to eat it or not. 

It’s probably better to buy products that have the most recent best before date. By doing so, you can store your meat products in the refrigerator or freezer longer without the risk of spoilage.

11. Expiration Dates   

The expiration date is extremely significant since it indicates when a product is reaching its spoiling point. Make it a priority to consume an item before the expiration date. It’s dangerous to eat any meat product after it’s passed this date.

If you’re fond of stocking up on ground beef, it’s considered high-risk. Because the meat is ground, it has a greater surface area. Moreover, it has also gone through several methods of processing and handling, making it more quickly to spoil than other cuts such as a piece of steak.  

12. Packaging  

Packaging is also one of the first things you’ll see among meat products in most groceries. Therefore, look for any visible defects or contamination on the packaging. 

Although it won’t directly influence the quality of the meat, it can provide you with an insight into the handling of the meat. If there are any smudges on the inside of the package, discard it since the meat might have been under unhygienic conditions during the processing and packing. Additionally, if there’s damage to the packaging, it can put the product at risk of contamination to the outside elements.  

13. Storage 

If you want to get good-quality meat, you shouldn’t overlook how it’s stored, whether in a refrigerator or freezer. The facility’s temperature management is critical for keeping the meat healthy and in good shape.

There might be a technical problem if you notice the refrigerator is evidently warmer or if water is leaking from the freezer. In such instances, it clearly indicates that the meat products are no longer stored in optimum condition.

14. Ask For Advice  

If you’re going to check out the choices from a butcher, don’t hesitate to ask for advice if you’re uncertain about the quality, cut, or ideal preparation of the meat products you’re planning to get.

The butcher can advise you on how to check the meat, the best cuts for the dish you’re making, and how to prepare the meat.


Various types of meat will always be a staple in the diet, especially if you want to maintain a well-rounded, nutritional meal. With the help of these valuable insights when selecting the right meat products, you’ll enjoy the health benefits meat provides along with the lovely burst of flavor in all your dishes. 

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