Be a Smarter Shopper
The Meat Case and DeliHow to Shop
- Watch out for white marbling; while it means that the cut is more tender, it also signals higher fat and more calories. "The leanest cuts of pork and beef have the words loin or round in their names," Newgent says. "Top-round beef and pork tenderloin, for instance, have about four grams of fat per three-ounce serving." But be aware that because of their lower fat content, they'll dry out quickly with intense, prolonged heat. Stir-fry or broil, and use a marinade.
- Pass up skinless poultry cuts; they offer less fat but are more expensive. The skin keeps meat moist during cooking (just remove it before you eat to save on fat and calories). Boneless cuts, also pricey, aren't as flavorful as those cooked with the bone attached. Dark meat (from the thigh and leg sections) is higher in fat than white meat from the breast is.
- Look for reduced-fat, low-sodium luncheon meats at the deli. They often taste just as good as full-fat meats (especially when eaten with full flavored condiments like coarse-grain mustard or chutney). The type of preparation used -- roasting, broiling, baking or smoking -- has little effect on calorie and fat content, unless sweet glazes such as honey or maple syrup are used. Nutritional information on all deli meats should be available for the asking.
- Take only tightly wrapped packages that show no signs of leakage, marked with a sell-by date later than the current date. This applies to all meats, including those in the butcher case and deli.
- Pay attention to the use-by date on the package. Fresh meats will last about three or four days in the fridge; raw poultry lasts just two days.
- Packaged deli meats stay fresh for several weeks in their vacuum-sealed packaging, but once opened, they’re good for only about four days. Store cut-toorder deli meats in zip-top plastic storage bags; eat within two days.
- To freeze meat, keep it in its original packaging and wrap a second layer of airtight plastic around it. Or divide into individual portions, wrap tightly in double layers of plastic, and store in freezer-storage bags. Label, then freeze for up to six months.
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