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Memorize These Cost-Effective Cuts for Chicken, Pork, and Beef

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There are two ways to approach budget-minded cooking: as a burden or as a challenge. The latter is a lot more fun. Burdens weigh on your shoulders, squish you down. Challenges are hurdles to hop over, riddles to solve, accomplishments to feel proud about, even shout from the rooftops.

When it comes to cooking with meat—often the most costly ingredient in a meal—a few tricks can go a long way. Say, supplement the meat with less expensive ingredients, from grains to veggies. Buy in bulk. And know which cuts get you the most bang for your buck.

Below are our favorite cost-effective cuts for chicken, pork, and beef—and our favorite ways to show ’em off. Prices were based on USDA national retail reports.

Chicken

A chicken is so small, you can buy the animal whole and break it down yourself. (Not as hard as you’d think!) General rule of thumb: The more the butcher does for you, the more you pay. For example, boneless, skinless breasts average at $2.39 per pound, while split, bone-in breasts hover around $1.64.

Leg Quarters

Average price: $1.01/pound.

Jamie Oliver’s Tender & Crisp Chicken Legs with Sweet Tomatoes & Basil

Jamie Oliver’s Tender & Crisp Chicken Legs with Sweet Tom... by Genius Recipes

Roasted Achiote Chicken with Potatoes, Broccoli, and Tangerine Aioli

Roasted Achiote Chicken with Potatoes, Broccoli, and Tang... by savorthis

Whole Roaster

Average price: $1.08/pound.

Buttermilk Roast Chicken with Potatoes and Cornichon Butter

Buttermilk Roast Chicken with Potatoes and Cornichon Butter by EmilyC

Melissa Clark's Feta-Brined Roast Chicken

Melissa Clark's Feta-Brined Roast Chicken by Genius Recipes

Pork

Bacon may reign over breakfast land, but we adore (yes, adore!) pork for dinner. Chops and belly get a lot of credit—and don’t get us wrong, love chops, love belly—but the rest of the animal deserves attention, too. By cooking large-format cuts, you can serve a crowd or, even better, have all the leftovers.

Spiral Ham

Average price: $0.99/pound

Super Simple Glazed Ham

Super Simple Glazed Ham by Kayb

Smoked Ham with Pomegranate Molasses, Black Pepper and Mustard Glaze

Smoked Ham with Pomegranate Molasses, Black Pepper and Mu... by TasteFood

Bone-In Butt

Average price: $1.66/pound.

How To Make Classic Pulled Pork

How To Make Classic Pulled Pork by Cara Nicoletti

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Matilda, Maple, and Garlic Pork Shoulder with Crispy Skin

Matilda, Maple, and Garlic Pork Shoulder with Crispy Skin by EmilyNunn

Beef

Beef is the priciest of the bunch. Which is why I eat it least frequently and, when I do, I find ways to cushion the cost. Meatballs want to help: Breadcrumbs, veggies, and eggs lower the price point, and improve flavor and texture. If you’re making a big roast, serve it with something hearty and filling, like polenta or pasta.

Rump Roast

Average price: $3.75/pound.

A Rich, Spicy Pot Roast That Lets You Ditch The Oven (If You Want)

A Rich, Spicy Pot Roast That Lets You Ditch The Oven (If ... by Paula Disbrowe

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Betty Wason's Basic Pot Roast

Betty Wason's Basic Pot Roast by Genius Recipes

Ground Beef (80–89% Lean)

Average price: $3.18/pound.

How to Make Meatballs Every Which Way (& Without a Recipe)

How to Make Meatballs Every Which Way (& Without a Recipe) by Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm

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The Food Lab's Ultra-Smashed Cheeseburgers

The Food Lab's Ultra-Smashed Cheeseburgers by Genius Recipes

GROUND BEEF + THIS = HEAVEN

What’s your favorite way to use one of these cuts? Tell us about it in the comments!

Tags: Chicken, Meat, Pork