Lancaster Country Guide to Buying Meat

As I covered in my last article, buying good quality meats can be a difficult task. If you add in cost savings on top of this, it becomes almost impossible to purchase top tier stock. However, there are a few places in the Lancaster County region that offer both a high standard in grading and savings to boot. Today we will cover some of these locations and what makes them of particular value.

Whether the cuts are simply the best or the pricing is shockingly good for the produce you receive, these are my top 5 best spots in Lancaster County to snag meats.

5) Costco

The first choice for many people that are looking for a lot of product at a good price. Despite needing to buy a membership to reap the benefits of Costco, you will find yourself quickly getting your initial payment back in savings that you’ll receive storewide. 

As far as their beef is concerned, you will often find choice cuts and on occasion a few pieces that are graded prime. Typically their pork and chicken are great purchases for their cost- so long as you have enough room in your refrigerator and/or freezer to justify the large purchase you plan to make.

Aside from needing to purchase a membership in order to start saving money, Costco definitely has a lot of items for sale that lead to many great options for savings. 

4) Family Owned Markets; Oregon Dairy Shoutout

All of the Family Owned Markets provide a large selection of products. Whether it’s produce, seafood, cheese and dairy products, or other meats, they aim to meet the needs of just about any customer that could come through their doors. While they’re probably best known for their produce and their dairy, the meat selections do not disappoint.

Like many local stores on this list, they offer a large variety of cuts and will cut to whatever thickness you’re looking for. They might not have everything, but there’s almost always something that you’re looking for in their cases or in the cooler ready to be cut. They even provide some options ready made (such as pork cutlets or stuffed chicken breasts) that allow you to have a homemade meal with no prep time.

Overall, locations like Oregon Dairy offer great value to the Lancaster County area- especially if price is a concern. If you want to elevate your plate slightly higher, they do offer choice grade meats as well.

3) Rooster Street Butcher Shop      

Rooster Street Butcher Shop is an established location in Lititz, PA that offers fresh, local meats. While the shop often carries standards such as pork chops, spare ribs, bone-in ribeye and the like, it is also home to its own house-made charcuterie.

Charcuterie has been a booming market around the world in the past few years, and how better to get your hands on some than from the locals that know it best? They even offer hard to find items like headcheese (if you’re not looking for it, you might not want it based on its description) and many other deli-type specialties.

Something that really sets Rooster Street apart from some of the other local competition is the fact that they’re partnering with local farms and growers (just like the next group on the list) to source their products. My personal favorite item is their turkey eggs. For starters, they’re super rich, flavorful, and have a unique color… but also because they’re typically difficult to find in our locality. Think about trying them if you’re in the area sometime.

2) Cabalar Meat Co.

One of the newest meat shops in Lancaster County and one with great repute. While their costs are higher than some of the other markets in the area, they’re really the go-to for local, pasture-raised meats. They offer pork, chicken, and beef as well as dog treats, stocks, and vegetables at their location (amongst a few other items).

While the marbling won’t be as high as it would be if you had bought choice meats at a local grocer, the flavor of pasture-raised and grass-fed meats are different. There’s also the added health benefits (such as higher omega-3’s) from the dietary consumption of the animals you consume that are raised in this fashion. 

Their selection may be a little more stagnant than your average grocer, but that is because they practice whole animal processing in which quarters are routinely brought out from the refrigerated storage area and are broken up in real time to separate each of the cuts from each individual primal. It’s pretty neat to watch and it’s a refreshing sight to see old-school butchery still being performed… especially when we live in a world of boxed subprimals (not that there’s anything wrong with that, mind you).

If you haven’t been here and you’re interested in trying some high-grade product and aren’t as worried about your marbling content for presentation, you’re bound to find something you enjoy. Oh- did I mention that there’s also a brewery located inside of their store? Yeah, it’s pretty cool. Definitely make a stop out sometime to try some of their products when you have a little extra to spend. I’m sure you’ll love it.

1) Stauffers of Kissel Hill; Lititz Pike

When it comes down to the best variety, competitive pricing, and extensive fabrication options for your meats, it is hard to beat Stauffers of Kissel Hill. They have an accommodating fish market and a meat counter with a bountiful supply of poultry, pork, and beef to boot.

The Lititz SKH meat department is run by a manager who used to process quarters of beef and has a culinary degree. Really, everyone has good knowledge about the products, but having a chef-like prowess preparing your meats and being available to aid in your selection at any time is a great advantage.

Since they have in-depth knowledge of the full range of their products, it is easy to get custom cuts made to your specifications. Need beef short ribs? They’ve got ‘em. Maybe you want them boneless instead… no big deal. They’ve got your back. Bone-in prime grade New York strips? They’re there. How about a traditional cut and tied prime rib? You’d better believe it.

They also have the best pork chops in Lancaster County. The “prime pork” as they call it is bar none the most flavorful and juicy pork chop in the area. Whether you want them bone-in (sold as Texas-style with Frenched bones) or boneless (their ‘Pork New York Strip’, you’re bound to enjoy it. Simply buy it, toss it on the grill, and consume. There’s really no need to put extra seasonings on it; though I guess you could if you wanted to…

The poultry area is also customizable. Whether you need chicken stir-fry, a chicken spatchcocked, boneless skin-on chicken breasts (they’ll bone a split breast for you if you ask), or just about any other need, the staff in SKH’s meat department will certainly treat you right.

As a final benefit, they also offer a lot of ready-to-cook meals as well. To name a few, they offer chicken parmesan, stuffed chicken breasts, stuffed pork chops, stuffed pork tenderloins, and a variety of kabobs in multiple seasonings or plain. Just remember that the kabobs are priced per unit, not per pound (though the kabobs are typically over .75lb each anyway).

I’m sure you’ve been here if you’re a local, but if you haven’t you should probably give them a try. Their rewards card is also quick to sign up for an offers some good savings throughout the store- it’s especially valuable for any BOGO sales in their meat department (if you don’t want to carry a card, they’ll be happy to let you punch in with a phone number instead).

Honorable mention: Appel Valley Meat Shop

While small and only open for limited hours, Appel Valley offers incredible flavors, precision, and value for every cut they sell. A fully customizable butcher shop, Appel Valley also creates meat sticks, jerky, and sausage in addition to all of the standard (and custom) cuts you can imagine- all at an affordable cost. Their product will inevitably run out every weekend, so you must be sure to stop in as early as possible to assure yourself some of their delicious product. 

Their prices are great- especially for the quality of produce that they purvey. It’s the kind of thing you’d expect from an honest family-run business. Oh- there’s also a extraordinary level of passion behind every cut and every prepared item in their entire showcase. Definitely a place to visit if you haven’t yet.

Days of operation: Thursday through Saturday.

Honorable mention: Wegmans/Whole Foods

While many rush to Wegmans and Whole Foods for their upper-level beef selections, I have been less than impressed with their marbling and their presentation in the Lancaster region. Their selection, however, is quite large- including many different cuts from pork, beef, lamb, veal, and poultry.

More or less, if you’re in the market for bulk buying a mid-level product or are interested in buying pre-marinated meats, Wegmans will have your back. For its quality, Wegmans is a fair price- but the grade of meat isn’t high enough in my opinion to qualify its costs.

Whole Foods, while the name draws attention for a variety of reasons, also does not quite cut the mustard for our top 5. Despite its locally sourced items (which are an awesome addition to stores), its variety does not include the higher marbling of the top choice grade.  

Whole Foods offers a large selection in which it can plausibly keep most specialty dishes available on the table with extras to boot. It offers organic and local foods, seasonal ingredients, a large hot food area… but its beef and their unwillingness to cut some steaks to a fully customized level may leave you wanting more.

What are your favorite meat shops in Lancaster County? What shops did we miss that we need to give a go? Let us know in the comments below.

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