This is similar to last week's post about not buying ground meat, in that it's another "cut" of meat I don't buy.
When I first moved out on my own, stewing beef was a fairly cheap way to buy beef. It was generally the odds and ends saved by the in-house butchers, and thus cheap, since it was "scrap". As a typical "starving" student, it was my go-to beef cut - cheap, tasty and could be stretched really thin in soups, stews and casseroles. Perfect.
Then something odd happened - stewing beef became a "convenience" food, and the price rose. That was about the same time a lot of stores lost their in-house butchers. Coincidence, I'm sure.
But one day, standing in the meat aisle at the grocery store, a light bulb went on: beef roasts were cheaper per pound than stewing beef. And since I was having to further cut down purchased stewing beef into bite-sized pieces anyway, it wouldn't be that much more work to just buy a roast and cut it up. And so I did, and have ever since.
I cut up a three pound roast the other night, and it took less than 15 minutes. Mind you, I only buy boneless roasts for this task, which simplifies things significantly. But 15 minutes for that much meat - to me, the time spent is worth it, since it both saves me money and gives me a better quality product. And again, I can freeze it in portions that work for me, generally one pound packages.
Oddly enough, the price of stewing beef from a local, sustainable producer is exactly the same as their beef roasts. So it reamis to be seen if I keep doing this, but for now, it's one way to save my pennies!