The 15 Grocery Stores With The Best Meat Departments, Ranked

In the olden days, people got their meat from dedicated butcher shops. However, making several stops while food shopping went out of style as our ever-expanding schedules and responsibilities began to take over. Supermarkets, which were a one-stop shop that made stocking up more efficient, quickly began to take over.

By the 1960s, supermarkets accounted for almost three-fourths of the food retail business, up from 35% just 10 years prior, according to the Food Industry Association. As more folks flocked to supermarkets, businesses added meat departments to meet the demand for fresh beef, pork, and more. The convenience of meat departments nearly eliminated the need for local butcher shops. However, as time passed and modernization fell into place, not all meat departments served up the quality that a butcher shop once did. 

Nearly every grocery store has some type of meat department. But what makes a meat department worth returning to these days? A noteworthy department will have a variety of products that look appealing, have high-quality cuts with certified labels, come at reasonable prices, and more. Look for these departments to set your next shopping experience apart. From smaller stores in only a few states to the best big-box stores, here are the ones we're most impressed with.

15. Safeway

Coming in at number 11, Safeway isn't a fully national chain (yet), but if you live in the right areas, you can go there to find a solid variety of quality items in the meat department and often an on-site butcher. This supermarket's prices are on the high end of the spectrum for your basic meat products, but there's special attention paid to freshness. In fact, in the 1930s, these stores were some of the first to focus on selling only the freshest items by adding sell-by dates to their meat and produce.

Safeway is best known for its beef selection. While its price for organic grass-fed beef comes in on the high end of the spectrum at $10.49 per pound, they do offer Ground Beef 80% Lean 20% Fat, which is sometimes hard to come by (and the top choice for an amazing homemade bold and spicy burger). There are also various cuts and products available with the USDA Choice Beef label. This well-known shield on the meat label signifies safe and quality meat and helps the buyer determine how much marbling and fat can be found in that particular cut. (Although Choice Beef is not as high as USDA Prime Beef, it is higher than the more common Select Beef shield.) However, be prepared to pay for this quality. Safeway's USDA Choice Beef Brisket Flat Boneless Whole, 4 lbs. is priced at over $50.

14. Publix

Publix sets itself apart from typical meat departments by hiring professional meat cutters to trim steaks and other items right there on-site. This ensures customers are getting the best possible cut of beef available, and shoppers can browse neatly sliced and packaged steaks that are cut fresh every day. With over 1,000 locations in the United States, this could be an excellent one-stop shop for your basic grocery needs.

Publix offers a range of organic sliced deli meat options, and there are also organic chicken tenders, breast filets, wings, and thighs in stock. In addition, customers can find the sometimes elusive whole organic chicken as well, which is perfect for rotisserie chicken dinners that will make any weeknight meal a tasty treat for the whole family. One of Publix's private labels, GreenWise, offers USDA-certified organic products that are USDA Grade A, meaning you'll be taking home some quality ingredients.

Although there are organic options, some of those other coveted certifications are not exactly plentiful at Publix. A great meat department ideally has a few USDA Choice options, which don't always have the most marbling but are still juicy and tender cuts. The department should also have even more USDA Select products, which are not always as tender but will have great flavor when marinated. However, Publix offers very few quality choices with these coveted labels. Although Publix's products are freshly trimmed, they may not be of the superior quality that serious grillers or cooks are searching for.

13. SHOP 'n SAVE

This chain of stores is only in a few select states throughout America. Found in Western Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, Ohio, and West Virginia, the store undeniably flies under the radar, rarely attracting much attention regarding exciting products and displays. In fact, the store is often overlooked and regarded more as a mom-and-pop or discount store. This might sound like an odd marketing tactic, but it all makes a lot of sense when you take a peek at the store's prices. SHOP 'n SAVE certainly stays true to its name when it comes to its price tags. And therein lies the genius: This relatively small organization offers top-quality products, such as USDA Choice Beef, Tyson USDA Grade A Poultry, USDA Inspected Pork, and more for affordable, less-than-average prices.

SHOP 'n SAVE doesn't skimp when it comes to suppliers and doesn't waste money on expensive advertising, displays, or overwhelming selections. To make up for the lack of choice, the stores often have on-site professional butchers and professional meat cutters. These experienced professionals select only the best items and don't overbuy, keeping costs extremely low. The store also frequently provides sales to quickly move the freshest products and keep prices low. For example, at times there are only about fifteen fresh meat items to choose from, but you can get Angus Boneless Sirloin Tip Sizzler Steaks for as low as approximately $6.99 a pound. A great option for basic grocery shopping, but don't expect to find any organic options on the shelves.

12. Stater Bros. Markets

Almost tied with SHOP 'n SAVE for their sales and selection is Starter Bros. If you call Southern California home and you love a good barbecue or some hearty meals, check out this option for its high-caliber meat selection. It's the full-service meat counter that adds a personal touch, while shoppers can expect to be charged average prices. Part of what sets Stater Bros. apart is its dedication to customer service and providing individual service, just like an old-fashioned butcher shop. Stater Bros. hires California state-certified meat cutters who must attend school for 2 years to master the craft of meat cutting. This ensures an excellent cut of meat that is bound to be tender, juicy, and fresh. 

Stater Bros. has been around since the 1930s and has expanded to over 150 stores in California. The meat department offers a selection of USDA Choice Beef, Certified Angus Beef®, Gerber's All Natural Hormone, Antibiotic and Steroid Free Poultry, Fresh American Lamb and Veal, Honeysuckle White USDA Grade A Turkey and Turkey Products, and premium vacuum-marinated meats. However, this also might not be your first stop if you're searching for organic options, with just a few standard items stocked. In addition, the store offers a weekly ad with special promotions. Previously named one of the best places to shop for groceries by the Leading National Consumer Magazine, the meat department, along with its expansive variety of other fresh items, landed this store on our list.

11. Harris Teeter

Landing near the middle of the list, Harris Teeter is most well-known in North Carolina, where the store originated in the '60s. However, they're now owned by a more familiar brand, The Kroger Co., and bring a decent selection of quality meat to the southern parts of the U.S. Harris Teeter is the place to shop for especially tender beef, poultry, and fresh seafood. Expect to find your basic meat products — anything required for a good old-fashioned southern barbecue, such as sticky spare ribs, or flavorful grilled chicken — along with a few extras, but nothing too exotic. 

The pricing is in the mid-to-high range. One pound of Dr. King's® Organic Grass Fed Ground Beef will cost approximately $10. However, Strauss All Natural Meatloaf Mix and Smithfield Garlic & Herb Pork Loin Filet are under $10 and will transform your boring dinner into a delectable but easy feast. 

Harris Teeter has long paid attention to serving up quality meat and continues to attract loyal customers, thanks to its Reserve Angus beef, which is USDA-certified very tender. The company introduced the Reserve Angus label, which would guarantee a tender, juicy cut of meat for customers to enjoy. Since the introduction of this program, Harris Teeter has also offered Harris Teeter Rancher Beef, which carefully tracks beef from the ranch to the store shelf to ensure top-quality meat. Shoppers can also find dry, aged Angus beef, American Wagyu Beef, and Certified Very Tender beef in stock.

10. Sam's Club

Sam's Club is a solid choice for buying meat in bulk. Although the prices are somewhat standard, there is a decent selection to choose from, and it makes more economic sense to buy larger cuts and supplies with the prices available with your membership. The options are seemingly endless, which can be overwhelming, but with a bit of planning, you can walk away with some stellar deals.

The choice of larger cuts is another reason we named Sam's Club meat department. Shoppers can choose from Member's Mark pork spare ribs and bone-in pork Boston butt, which is perfect for larger cookouts and barbecues. If you're having trouble navigating these extensive options, look for the Member's Mark label. These products are made with only 100% grass-fed cattle and are held to a high standard overall. For even more convenience, you can have Member's Mark products shipped directly from the store to your home for a truly simple shopping experience.

9. Lidl

There are approximately 170 Lidl stores throughout the East Coast. This company lands in the middle of our list for its great prices. If you are lucky enough to live close to one, we recommend checking out their meat department for your basic shopping needs and affordable prices.

This company does not overwhelm customers with a wide variety of options but rather carefully selects a few choice products that stand out. If too many brands and options give you a headache, check out Lidl. The number of actual products might be on the low side when compared to other stores, but this ensures very high-quality options and appealing prices. Working closely with local suppliers is a way that Lidl keeps costs down. For example, you can find basic organic chicken and beef products for low prices; it's only around $6.00 for a pound of boneless breasts, but won't find less popular or uncommon cuts. Check out Lidl if you want to stock up on organic staple items without breaking the bank. This department beats out other prices along the East Coast, but don't expect a large selection.

While you're at it, this store also has some options for non-organic but quality beef. A pound of 80% lean ground beef will only set you back around $4.00, and you can find several Black Angus products. This store also has larger cuts of beef, such as London broil and whole chuck roasts, available for barbecues and other gatherings.

8. Aldi

Aldi is another one of those stores that don't have everything you need, but what is stocked is superior quality and priced affordably. Falling just after Lidl on the list, Alid has similar prices but a much larger selection of organic products in addition to basic items. It also ranks high on our list for its awesome and consistent collection of black angus beef and some surprise options, such as turkey breast tenderloin and bacon-wrapped beef chuck.

A pound of organic ground beef is only around $5.00, making it one of the most affordable options on the list. Low prices don't mean sacrificing quality. Aldi keeps its prices down with tricks, such as displaying shelved items in the boxes they are delivered and asking customers to provide their own bags. Working with local farmers for meat and other products also keeps costs down, which is why we recommend checking out Aldi for your shopping needs.

7. Lowes Foods

Lowes Foods opened way back in 1954, and the store has continued to grow in popularity throughout both Carolinas. Part of that is due to their excellent meat department, which offers great-quality products and excellent sale prices. Certified Angus Beef ®, USDA Select, and 100 % grass-fed are all available and priced reasonably. Although there aren't too many organic beef options — though a pound of ground beef is under $8 — and even fewer organic pork options, there are quite a few chicken products that healthy shoppers will enjoy. Lowes Foods likely would have ranked higher on this list, except for the fact that it's not accessible to many people. However, if you're lucky enough to have one in your town, the store works to include local products and to work with farmers in the area. The store has an overall sense of quality, especially in the meat department.

The Meat Shoppe at Lowes includes all of your basic needs, from pork tenderloin for the perfect Sunday roasted tenderloin to burger patties and bratwursts, but the store also has a variety of exciting products that aren't always easy to find at other supermarkets. Spice up your family dinner with some standing rib roasts, or really pack in the flavor with some fresh ham hocks that are always available on the shelves. Lowes Foods meets all the standards of a traditional butcher with whole Boston Butt Roasts, boneless NY strip steak, choice flank steak, short loins, rib roast, and more.

6. Costco Wholesale

Coming in at number five, Costco nearly ties up with Lowes Foods and Trader Joe's in terms of selection and overall cost, with the added bonus of buying in bulk. This favorite big-box store also offers a great collection of fresh meat that is priced fairly but can also be bought in bulk, which means stocking up your freezer when items go on sale. Another factor that sets Costco's meat department apart from others, is the superior selection of game meat that is consistently available, fresh, and exciting. These stores are found in almost every state in the U.S., which is great for shoppers who want to break away from the monotony of everyday cheeseburgers, boring meatloaf, and traditional pork chops. If you're looking for a little excitement, check out Costco's game meat department, where shoppers can find northfork elk medallions, bison tenderloins, venison stew meat, and lamb loins.

Although the game meat selection is pretty diverse, the grass-fed and organic options are somewhat lacking. Organic chicken is often available, but there aren't many cut options. Shoppers can either purchase breasts or an 8-piece, but that's it. Don't expect to find a pack of organic chicken tenders or thighs here. Grass-fed beef is often a healthier and more affordable option. However, Costco has even fewer of these choices on the shelves. The meat department is best navigated through sales and stocking up on staple items that you know will come in handy down the line.

5. Meijer

Landing high on our list of the best meat departments is Meijer. This company has been around since the 1930s, and there are now approximately 240 establishments in the United States. This store stands out among others because of the hand-cut and ground fresh beef that's in-store every day. Everything from ground beef, steaks, and roasts to stew and stir-fry meat is readily available. In fact, there are over 100 beef products to choose from. Once you explore the many options, rest assured that the beef is high quality. In fact, only 3 out of every 10 cattle can meet Meijer's standards and expectations. You'll only find items that have been graded as choice or prime at Meijer.

This store is known for its beef selection; however, there are very few organic options, but the prices are standard. One pound of 93% organic ground beef costs approximately $9.00. However, the other types of meat, such as pork, turkey, and lamb, are well-stocked and extensive. Lamb racks, boneless lamb leg, veal loin chop, and ground bison are just a few examples of the less popular cuts that are stocked.

4. Trader Joe's

Shopping at Trader Joe's is more of a weekend excursion or a weeknight adventure than your average trip to the grocery store. The wide variety of seasonal products, top-quality signature items, and friendly customer service will have you coming back again and again, especially if you're drawn to adorable packaging, organic products, and a sweeping wine section. It's no surprise that some serious care and attention is paid to their meat department as well. Trader Joe's department has select items that are great quality as well as some deliciously prepared meats, but the prices are a bit on the high side. The average Trader Joe's shopper makes at least $80,000 per year, which means the prices tend to be somewhat higher. For example, its organic ground beef is approximately $8.99 per pound, whereas Marketside Butcher at Walmart is approximately $6.28 per pound.

Trader Joe's private label sets the store's meat department apart from others. In fact, all of the items under that familiar label are guaranteed to meet certain requirements. No artificial flavors are used and the products are made from non-GMO ingredients; even the packaging is all non-BPA. Grass-fed products without hormones and organic products such as free-range chicken drumsticks, sweet Italian sausage, and uncured beef hot dogs are readily available. However, the department also has a bit more variety with items such as seasoned Shawarma Chicken Thighs, Unexpected Cheddar Chicken Sausage, and Pollo Asado Autentico to keep your dinners exciting.

3. Whole Foods Market

Over the years, even as Whole Foods Market expanded across the country with over 500 stores, there's been a bit of a stereotype about the brand. Once ridiculed as Whole Paycheck, mainly for the steep prices and overwhelming selection of organic options, Whole Foods has come a long way to lower prices and bring quality products to shoppers. In particular, its meat selection is stocked with top-quality choices and variety that are still bringing in shoppers despite the slightly higher price tags, making this one of the top meat departments to choose from. Quality has always been more expensive; therefore, shoppers should still be prepared to spend a little more at Whole Foods.

Organic shoppers can rejoice in the Whole Foods meat department, as nearly every cut is also available with the coveted organic label. From the standard chicken and beef options — there's even organic turkey and pork — and more. In addition, the other products are typically at least grass-fed or antibiotic- and hormone-free, which means there are plenty of options for healthy shoppers.

Another great aspect of Whole Foods is the value pack. Those staple items, such as organic chicken breasts, are often sold at a discounted price in packs of two or three, and shoppers can actually save on quality items. For example, the Organic Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast Value Pack is $7.99 a pound, and you can stock your freezer without paying for a bulk membership.

2. Wegmans

Wegmans comes in at a close second and is a crowd-pleaser in the northeast, where most of the 100-plus stores are located. The store offers a plethora of high-quality items, specialty ingredients, and a top-notch meat department, meaning you can get all of your grocery shopping done in one place and get more than the basics. Wegman's meat department is known for its dedication to grass-fed products. In fact, the brand's beef products are 100% grass-fed and never raised with antibiotics or growth hormones. The company is dedicated to working with local, responsible farmers that provide ample grazing space for their animals. Approximately 80 farmers in the area supply Wegman's high-quality meat for shoppers. Customers can be sure that the beef they're buying will be tender and juicy because of the marbling in the meat.

In addition to excellent beef, Wegmans offers all your standard favorites, such as organic chicken breasts, thighs, and whole air-chilled chickens. Shoppers can also find less common choices that will make every meal exciting, such as organic ground chicken and lemon garlic marinated cutlets. There's also a variety of organic pork available, from basic pork chops and sausage to boneless pork shoulders and baby back ribs. The variety doesn't end there. Wegman's also has an exciting specialty section with lamb, veal, bison, and more. This store ranks high on the list because of its expansive variety, quality beef, organic options, and reasonable pricing. For comparison, a pound of organic ground beef costs just over $7.

1. Sprouts Farmers Market

Ranking as the very best among the best, Sprouts Farmers Market did not jump on the healthy eating bandwagon in the past ten years or so when it really became popular. Since the company's conception, clean, healthy eating at affordable prices was the main goal. The store opened in 2002, and even without selling some of the biggest brands and food items, the store expanded across the country to more than 350 locations. The meat department in Sprouts ranks highest on the list because overall, the brand offers healthy, high-quality meat with great variety and affordable prices while making efforts to be more sustainable and to make good food more accessible.

The shelves of Sprouts Farmers Market are stocked with organic, grass-fed, and all-natural products that have been raised without antibiotics or hormones. These varying options allow shoppers to select how much they want to spend without sacrificing their healthy eating habits. The store has a range of prices with more expensive, extra high-quality items and more affordable products as well. For example, a pound of organic ground beef is priced at $7.99. However, on the same shelf, buyers can also find Ground Wagyu Patties for $9.99 and Sprouts 85% Lean Ground Beef 16 oz for $5.99 (still all-natural and raised without hormones and antibiotics). This variety offers a little something for everyone, and makes quality meat more accessible to the masses.