5 Of The Least Expensive Organic Meats You Can Buy—And How To Make Them Taste Amazing

Yes, you can eat organic meat on a budget.

August 10, 2017
Eugene Mymrin/ Getty

You know you should be buying organic meats whenever possible—for your own health and the wellbeing of animals. But sometimes even knowing that your grass-fed organic beef packs more omega-3s than conventional, or that your organic chicken actually had space to roam in a field instead of living in a cramped indoor barn, isn’t enough to make you shell out big money when you’re on a budget. 

Turns out, though, that you can snag some awesome organic meat without spending your entire paycheck. 

No matter what the meat, buying in bulk at your favorite grocery store can often cut costs. In the case of Wegmans, “Family Pack” meats can save a customer 30 percent or more, compared to the regular size. Another great tip: Consult a butcher. Tod Auman, co-owner of Dundore & Heister butcher shops in Easton and Wyomissing, Pa, says a great butcher can recommend cuts that aren’t as well known and give you options within your budget. “We love when someone comes in and says, ‘Help me plan a meal in $15 or less.’ That’s what a butcher should be doing in this day and age.” (Here are 7 more tips on how to eat organic meat on a budget.)

In general, though, there are some meats—and specifically, cuts of meat—that are the often the least expensive per organic pound no matter where you live. Here, we consulted with chefs, butchers, food bloggers, and grocery store reps to figure out what those are, plus the tastiest ways to prepare them. 

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Eugene Mymrin/ Getty
Spare ribs

“Part of the trick of using inexpensive cuts is using the right technique,” says chef and TV host Steven Raichlen, who has 30 books and five James Beard Awards to his name. Take ribs for example. Raichlen explains that while baby back ribs are America’s choice cut and on the pricier side, the sparerib is a lot cheaper (around $5.99 per pound for organic spare ribs, compared to $8.39 per pound for baby back). Spare ribs are larger, a little tougher and have slightly more fat than baby back ribs, says Raichlen, but they “reward you with incredible flavor” if cooked correctly.

How to eat them: Raichlen starts his Righteous Ribs with an all-purpose barbecue rub, smokes them 3-4 hours, and slathers them with homemade barbecue sauce. Don't have a smoker? For something equally delicious, but less labor intensive, you can follow this recipe from The Kitchn and broil then bake your ribs in the oven after seasoning them.

Related: Try These Beef Cuts If You're A Caring Carnivore

lamb shanks
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Lamb shanks

If you’ve got a hankering for lamb, opt for the organic lamb shank, says Raichlen. It’s “a mini leg of lamb for the budget-minded.” Per pound, organic lamb shank will run you around $6.99, while organic chops can range from $8 to $21 per pound, depending on the variety. 

How to eat them: Try cooking shanks low and slow (or super fast in an Instant Pot if you have one). You can bathe them in aromatic red wine, like this Braised Lamb Shanks with Rosemary recipe from Epicurious calls for, or bring out the smoker for Raichlen's sweet and fragrant Smoke-Braised Lamb Shanks.

Related: Why It's More Important To Be An Ethical Omnivore Than A Vegetarian

roast chicken
Merethe Svarstad Eeg / EyeEm/ Getty
Whole chicken

Auman recommends going for an organic whole chicken, because it’s often the best bang for your organic buck—around $4.25 per pound at his butcher shop—and you can get so many uses out of the different parts. Compare that to organic boneless, skinless chicken breasts, which are around $8 per pound. 

How to eat them: Roast a chicken early in the week (with your favorite spice rub, suggests Auman) and use what’s left in Chicken Salad Lettuce Cups or this Chicken and Veggie Frittata. Plus, using the bones from an organic chicken will make an incredible chicken stock or bone broth, says Eric Wendorff, corporate chef of Wegmans supermarket chain.

Related: The Easiest Roast Chicken Recipe Ever



chicken thighs
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Chicken thighs

Organic chicken thighs pack a lot of flavor for a small price tag—especially if you don’t mind some skin. Organic bone-in skin-on chicken thighs ring in at around $3.99 per pound, compared to organic boneless skinless chicken thighs, which are around $5.49 per pound.

How to eat them: Raichlen recommends indirect grilling so the fat in the skin melts out, making the skin crisp and the meat incredibly juicy and moist. Try the technique at your next barbecue with Grilled Spice-Rubbed Chicken with Pickled Peaches. If you don’t feel like grilling, roasting is often just as delicious, especially if you finish the thighs under the broiler to get that skin extra crispy.

Related: 20 Tips For Healthy Green Grilling, Plus The Best Eco-Friendly Grills To Buy

chuck roast
Photograph courtesy of Heartbeet Kitchen
Beef chuck roast

Organic beef can get very pricey—even the cheaper cuts like beef chuck roast and stew beef (often comprised of chuck roast) ring in at around $8.99 per pound.  But that’s a steal compared to a $15-per-pound ribeye steak or a $25-per-pound filet mignon.

How to eat them: With cheaper cuts of beef, which can be on the chewy side, searing and then slow cooking (or pressure cooking) is your best bet. Searing adds flavor through browning and caramelization, while slow cooking helps break down tough proteins, making them fork-tender and downright mouthwatering, says Amanda Paa of the blog Heartbeet Kitchen. Try this method out with her One-Pot Braised Beef Roast with Carrot Mash & Olives recipe.

Related: The 6 Healthiest Meats For You And The Planet