Savor the Savings. How to Cook Beef on a budget

Savor the Savings: How to Cook Beef on a Budget

May 24, 2024 |  , ,

When you cook with Natural Angus beef, or any beef for that matter, seeking more economic options shouldn’t limit the flavor and nutrition you crave. Nor should your grocery shopping decisions be limited to a debate between buying ground beef versus ground chuck.

Going beyond ground beef, many other cuts will satisfy your budget, taste buds, and nutritional needs. We tapped a number of talented and clever chefs to dish on three of their favorites, along with their pro tips on how best to prepare them.

Cooked eye of round roast on a plate with vegetables

The Versatile Cut of Beef: Eye of Round Roast

When trying to keep costs low, John Baxter, chef at Portland, Oregon’s Bullard Tavern, said he thinks an eye of round roast is underrated.

“It’s so versatile for home cooks,” Baxter said. “You can cube it; cut the roast into medallions and pound them out for chicken-fried steak; or simply roast it and have an amazing pot roast,” Baxter said.

It’s also a fantastic option to smoke. “Use your favorite dry rub on the eye of round and smoke it to medium rare (with an internal temp of 135-140°F),” he said. “Slice it thin to use for a French dip with stewed peppers and onions.”

Praise for the eye of round isn’t limited to Bullard Tavern or the West Coast. Don Walker, executive chef of Formento’s in Chicago, said he is a braising enthusiast for this cut, particularly preceding a long cook in the crock pot.

“Winter is the perfect time to bust out that crock pot and let it roll while you are at work or running errands,” Walker said. “I recommend adding root veggies such as turnips, celery root, and carrots to the pot, as well as a heavy dose of red wine to help break down the meat.”

flat iron steak in a skillet on table next to pinabpple, guacamole, and a drink

Chefs’ Go-To Cut of Beef: Flat Iron Steak

Dominique Leach, co-owner of the Lexington Betty Smokehouse in Chicago, said chefs are drawn to flat iron steaks.

“When cooked correctly, it is wonderfully tender and juicy,” Leach said. “Although marinating isn’t necessary, I recommend it to boost the flavor and tenderness,” she said. “This is my favorite steak to add chimichurri to.”

If you’d like to simply grill a flat iron steak, you won’t be disappointed. All you need is a hot pan. Easton Sadler, head butcher at Houston’s R-C Ranch Butcher Shop, seasons his steak with salt and pepper, then allows it to rest for at least three minutes at room temperature to help it cook evenly.

“Heat up canola oil in a cast-iron pan until you see light smoke, then cook for two minutes per side,” Sadler said. “If you are going for a seriously hard sear, you can place a heavy-bottomed pan on top. Let your steak rest for 15 minutes, then throw a pat of butter on it.”

If you’re looking for a delicious flat iron steak sandwich recipe, try our Mustard-Grilled Steak Panini with Giardiniera.

hanger steak in a bowl with rice and an egg

Butchers’ Favorite Cut of Beef: Hanger Steak (aka Hanging Tenderloin)

Another cut that is easy on the wallet but delivers big on texture and flavor is the hanger steak, also referred to as the hanging tenderloin. The hanger steak is exceptionally tender and was often considered a delicacy among butchers, who would keep the cut for themselves rather than offering it for sale, historically earning it the “butcher’s steak” nickname.

“It’s tender like filet mignon, but still has a great beef flavor like tougher cuts,” Walker said.

“Hanging tenderloins don’t have a lot of intramuscular fat. They cool quicker and are best served medium rare,” Walker said. To cook, he uses a “ripping hot grill or cast-iron pan,” and simply seasons this cut with salt and pepper to “let the meat speak for itself.”

“Hanger steak is not as popular as ribeye, but if you’re a steak lover I recommend trying it,” Leach said. “It boasts lots of flavor and is very affordable. It’s often compared to a skirt or a flank steak, but hangers are more tender.”

Leach recommends dousing the steak with your favorite marinade. “This helps boost the flavor and tenderize the meat,” she said. She then grills it over high heat until medium rare.

However, Sadler said his favorite way to eat hanger steak is sliced in an Asian-inspired bowl with white rice or vermicelli.

“Season it heavily with sesame oil, fish sauce, and black vinegar,” Sadler said. “Then garnish with cilantro, scallion, pickled ginger, and a beautiful runny egg.”

Maximizing Your Budget—and Your Palate

Next time you’re going to the grocery store, rather than assume a beef blend is your only choice, check out one of the cuts above for an affordable and amazingly versatile option instead. Ask your butcher for Aspen Ridge® Natural Angus Beef, with no antibiotics or hormones added—ever.

For even more decadent inspiration for your dime, view our full pages of mouthwatering beef recipes for every meal and every cut.