Think big.

By Stacey Ballis
November 30, 2020
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Did you know that your best bets for really saving money on proteins at Costco are all going to be large formats? We’re talking whole giant roasts, huge packages of ground meats, and whole chickens or turkeys. It’s time to embrace being your own butcher and saving a ton of money in the process.

Here’s why bigger is better:

You’re not paying for labor: This alone might save you several dollars per pound, because you’re not paying for a butcher to do this work for you. As you see in this article about how to break down an untrimmed beef tenderloin, it is not difficult to take a large piece of meat and create smaller portion sizes yourself (which is especially crucial when shopping for high-ticket meats).

You have total control over portion sizes: This is especially great when you have people in your family with different appetites. You might want a thick 10-12-ounce steak all to yourself (I certainly do), but your 10-year-old might really only be able to manage four or five ounces but will also want “my own steak!”

You gain variety in thickness: By buying a whole loin, you can make thicker steaks for those who want them, and thinner steaks for those who don’t, which helps with waste.

You get the scraps: Lastly, you will also end up with all the scraps that come along with butchery, from bones to waste bits, all of which are wonderful for making stock, an added bonus!

Here’s how to shop right for large cuts at Costco:

Credit: Getty / Ultima_Gaina

Know the best, large cuts of meat to buy.

Look for whole, untrimmed cuts that you can turn into smaller portions. If you love a New York strip steak, buy a whole one, if you prefer filet mignon, look for that aforementioned untrimmed tenderloin. Whole pork shoulders, whole bone-in legs of lamb, whole chickens or turkeys; the less it has been processed, the better and the cheaper! Things like pork shoulders, whole chuck roasts and whole briskets are all great for braising and can be portioned into stew meat. And whole sides of fish can be cut into filet portions for delicious seafood all winter long.

Call ahead to make sure the butcher is ready for you.

For this big shop? Definitely call ahead to the butcher counter. You don’t want to show up in search of a whole pork loin roast only to discover that they just finished cutting the last one into chops. By asking for what you want in advance, you can ensure it isn’t a wasted trip, an especially wise move during this pandemic winter.

If you don’t see it, ask.

Many Costco stores don’t necessarily put the untrimmed cuts out in the cases. But if you ask, they will package one up for you in the back with the appropriate reduction in price. So, if you don’t spot what you need, speak up; they are notoriously accommodating.

Portion properly.

Some cuts are easy to break down: A boneless pork loin just gets sliced into chops however thick you want them, for example. Some are a little trickier, like a bone-in leg of lamb. But they are all very manageable for a home cook, and if you aren’t sure of how to do it, just Google it and you’ll find a wealth of easy-to-follow videos to help.

Package properly.

Once you have your portions, either vacuum seal or wrap well in plastic wrap and then store in zip-top bags, pressing out as much air as possible, and label with date of purchase before freezing.

Great large-cut meats to buy

Want to shop Costco meat deals from the comfort of your sofa? Here are some of my favorite cuts, ready to order from Instacart (the prices here are based on average size, but yours might vary a bit)!

Whole New York Strip Loin ($141.77), Instacart.com

Whole Beef Brisket ($72.20), Instacart.com

Whole Boneless Beef Ribeye ($65.28), Instacart.com

Boneless Chuck Roast ($38.90), Instacart.com

Boneless Pork Shoulder ($37.58), Instacart.com

Organic Whole Chickens ($27.49), Instacart.com

Wild Pacific Halibut ($38.04), Instacart.com