Right Cuts To Proper Storage: Here Are Tips To Buying Fresh Meat
Image Credit: Representational image via Wikimedia Commons.

Navigating the meat market can be a bit overwhelming, especially if it is your first time. With restrictions in place and diverse cultural preferences, it's crucial to be well-informed before making your purchase. This guide will provide helpful tips and insights to assist you in making informed choices when buying meat. 

Understand Meat Quality

When buying meat, quality should be your top priority. Look for fresh, high-quality cuts with no visible discolouration or foul odours. Opt for meat that is firm and slightly moist. If possible, choose organic or free-range meat, as these options are generally considered healthier and more ethical. Additionally, consider the source of the meat and ensure it comes from a reputable supplier or farm. It's also important to consider the price; keep in mind that the cheapest meat may not always be the best quality.

Know Your Cuts

Familiarise yourself with different cuts of meat to understand their tenderness, the flavour they will impart, and cooking methods. Common cuts include chicken breast, leg, and wings, as well as mutton or lamb chops, shanks, and minced meat. For beef, popular cuts include fillets, steaks, and minced beef. Each cut has its unique qualities, so choose according to your preference and intended cooking method. If you're unsure, ask your butcher for recommendations on the best cut for your recipe.

Seek Halal or Jhatka Certification

If you are particular about religious or ethical considerations, look for meat that is halal or jhatka-certified. Halal meat adheres to Islamic dietary laws, while jhatka meat comes from animals slaughtered in a specific manner in accordance with Sikh dietary practices. These certifications ensure that the meat is prepared following specific guidelines and can provide assurance to those with specific preferences or religious requirements.

Practice Safe Handling

Once you have purchased your meat, it's crucial to handle it safely to prevent any health risks. Always wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling raw meat. Use separate cutting boards and utensils for meat and vegetables to avoid cross-contamination. Ensure that the meat is stored at the appropriate temperature, either in the refrigerator or freezer, to maintain its freshness.


When you bring the meat home, it's important to store it properly to ensure it stays fresh. Chicken and mutton should be stored in the refrigerator at a temperature of 4°C or below. Fish and other seafood should be stored in the refrigerator at a temperature of 0-4°C. Make sure to consume the meat within the recommended time frame to avoid spoilage.

Here are some additional tips to handle poultry, fish and mutton: 

-- For chicken, chicken pieces or cuts are easier to cook with as they require less preparation. Look for chicken that has a firm, plump body and skin, and is not slimy. Check that the chicken has a fresh, clean smell. For extra freshness, you can buy chicken that is slaughtered the same day. Chicken should be consumed within 1-2 days.

-- For mutton, you can choose between goat meat or lamb. Goat meat has a stronger, gamier flavour and comes from older goats, while lamb has a milder flavour and comes from younger sheep. Popular mutton cuts include chops, stew pieces, and minced meat.

-- When buying fish, check that the fish has a sea-fresh smell, clear eyes, and firm flesh. The gills should be deep red and the scales should cling tightly to the skin. Popular and affordable fish options include pomfret, seer fish, mackerel, and sardines. Fish should be consumed within 1-2 days. Some tips for buying fish:

  1. Buy fish that is appropriate for the dish you want to make. Some fish like pomfret and seer fish are better for frying or grilling, while mackerel and sardines are better for curries.
  2. For extra freshness, buy fish that is still whole, not pre-cut. Have the fishmonger clean and cut it for you. 
  3. Check if the fish has been previously frozen. Fresh fish will have smooth, shiny flesh, while thawed fish may have a dull, dry appearance. Ask the fishmonger for fresh fish whenever possible. 
  4. Buy fish based on the number of people you need to serve. A medium-sized pomfret (about 350-500 grams) will serve 2-3 people, while a large seer fish (1-1.5 kilograms) can serve up to 6 people. 
  5. Don't be afraid to ask questions about different types of fish and their cooking methods. The fishmonger can give you advice on how to cook the fish you are buying.

Buying meat for the first time can be a daunting experience, but with these tips, you can shop confidently and get high-quality, affordable meat. With a little practice, you'll soon become an expert at buying meat and cooking delicious meals for yourself and your family.