Is Flank Steak Really a Cheap Option? | Rock the Grill

Is Flank Steak Really a Cheap Option?

Lucas
LucasPublished: January 31, 2024
Is Flank Steak Really a Cheap Option?

Ever found yourself standing in the meat aisle, pondering the prices of different cuts of beef? You're not alone! We've all been there, especially when it comes to flank steak.

Flank steak is a bit of a conundrum. It's got a reputation for being a budget-friendly cut, but is it really as cheap as we think? Let's see what our wallets are up against.

What is flank steak?

Well folks, let's dive right in and dissect what this popular cut of beef - flank steak - really is. Known for its lean, yet extremely flavorful characteristics, flank steak is one part of a cow that's located below the loin and rib. This is the back-to-belly, if you will.

The location is essential to understanding this cut. Consider it in the 'hard-working' part of the cow. This results in leaner muscles, less fat, but lots of flavor. That's why we find flank steak to be strikingly flavorful and delicious with just the right kind of preparation and cooking method.

Wondering about the size? A full flank steak may weigh anywhere between one to two pounds. By the sounds of it, it's clear it could be the star of any dinner table, right?

It is crucial to highlight that while it might be remarkably tasty, flank steak on its own can be a bit on the tough side. This is due in large part to its location on the animal and its hard-working muscles. The good news is we can counteract this with proper preparation methods: marinades, slow cooking, or even grilling at high heat.

Pair it up with your favorite side dish, dress it with a mouthwatering sauce, or even use it in salads or fajitas. The options are endless! Now that we've thoroughly dissected what flank steak is, do we still see it as a budget-friendly cut despite its taste and versatility? Let’s delve further into this matter.

The reputation of flank steak.

Once upon a time, flank steak had an entirely different reputation. It was the butchers' best-kept secret, often being kept for themselves instead of being put on sale. But those days have faded into the annals of culinary history.

Today, flank steak is cherished by chefs and home cooks alike. It's enjoyed a rise in popularity over recent years for its unique qualities. This long and flat cut, known for its intense beefy flavor, is part of the forerunning grilling stars of the BBQ industry.

Yet, we can't deny that acquiring that tender, mouthwatering texture with flank steak requires some skill. Grill it too long, and it'll turn tough as old boots. Cook it quickly on high heat, slice it thin against the grain, and you'll savor one of the most flavorful cuts around.

Many debate whether it's still a budget cut. Prices have increased in recent years due to demand. Let's dive into the data. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average price of flank steak has risen from $5.99 per pound in 2010 to nearly $9.99 per pound in 2020. Here's a comparison:

YearPrice Per Pound
2010$5.99
2020$9.99

The increase may seem steep, but when we examine the bigger picture, it's clear that this cut is still worth every penny. Whether it's the robust flavor, versatility in various cuisines, or the joy of grilling something to perfection, flank steak offers a unique culinary experience that doesn't break the bank.

Factors that affect the price of flank steak

Sure, we'd all love to get our hands on a piece of juicy flank steak without breaking the bank. But there's more to the cost of this prime cut than meets the eye. Let's explore some of the factors that shoot up the price.

The first factor we need to consider is the demand and supply. In recent years, flank steak's popularity has soared. Restaurants and home cooks are fighting to grab a piece of this flavorful meat. Since cows only have two flanks, butchers can't supply enough to satisfy everyone's demands. The result? A price hike.

The flank steak's reputation transformation has also played a significant role. Once considered a less desirable cut, flank steak has now become a BBQ superstar. People are willing to pay more for its intense beefy flavor. They don't mind spending extra bucks just to grill it to perfection on weekends.

Let's not forget the quality and origin of the meat. If you're looking for a grass-fed, organic, or locally sourced steak, expect to pay more. The cost of raising organic cattle translates into a heftier price tag for the steak. Additionally, imported meat tends to cost more due to shipping, storage, and handling costs.

Another factor is the butchering skills. Trimming a flank steak needs precision. Butchers need to cut it against the grain to make it tender and flavorful. That's not a skill everyone possesses. So, in essence, you're not just paying for the meat, you're also paying for the butcher's expertise.

Overall, as much as we wish it wasn't the case, there are multiple factors contributing to the rising price of flank steak—be it demand and supply, the cut’s reputation, the quality of the meat, or the butchering skills. Finding a good bargain on this cut might take a little more effort but for true steak lovers, it's a challenge they are more than willing to accept.

Comparing the cost of flank steak to other cuts of beef

When we stack up flank steak against other cuts, understanding the price differences becomes critical. Let's dive in and assess its relative cost.

Flank steak often carries a heavier price tag than many other types of beef, but it's still cheaper than premium cuts like ribeye or filet mignon. A pound of flank steak typically ranges from $8 to $14, but premium cuts can go upwards of $20 per pound.

To grasp the whole picture, consider more economical cuts like ground beef or chuck roast. You can usually find these for around $4 to $8 per pound.

Here's a quick rundown—

Cut of BeefAverage Price per Pound
Flank Steak$8 - $14
Ribeye$17 - $22
Filet Mignon$20 - $25
Ground Beef$4 - $8
Chuck Roast$5 - $9

So, where does this put flank steak? In the middle of the range. It's not the cheapest cut you can find, but it's also not the most expensive. Here is where your personal preference for taste, quality, and budget comes together.

As you shop around, consider if the higher price of flank steak is worth it to you. Its rich flavor and lean texture might justify the cost. Or perhaps you're willing to experiment with cheaper cuts which could turn out to be just as delicious if prepared well.

Steak shopping requires a delicate balance of knowing the worth of different cuts and the value they each bring to the table. Making an informed decision means understanding these dynamics, and how they impact your culinary experience and wallet.

Is flank steak really cheap?

It's essential to keep it in context: Cheap is always relative. When we're talking about flank steak, let's remember that we're not comparing it to a pack of ramen noodles. We're comparing it to other cuts of beef. Now, with that in mind - is flank steak really cheap?

Depends on what you're stacking it up against. When compared to premium cuts like filet mignon or ribeye, yes, the flank steak is definitely a more budget-friendly option. It packs a lot of flavor and can make for a fantastic main dish. If you're a carnivore on a budget, it might just become your new best friend.

But let's put it on the scales with some other contenders. Ground beef, sirloin, chuck roast - these are cuts that are typically more affordable than flank steak. But remember what we said about cheap being relative? Well, here, it's not just about the price tag. It's about what you're getting for that money.

Flank steak has a unique taste and texture that you won't find in ground beef. It's got a bit of bite to it but is still tender and juicy when cooked properly. So while you're paying a bit more, you're also getting a different culinary experience.

So, when we ask if flank steak is cheap, the answer lies in your personal perspective. It might not beat ground beef in a penny pinching contest, but it certainly gives ribeye a run for its money.

Flank steak is not the cheapest, but it's not as expensive.

So we've seen that flank steak isn't the cheapest cut of beef out there. But it's also not the priciest. It's nestled right in that sweet spot between budget-friendly and indulgent. It's all about what you're looking for in your meal.

If taste and quality are high on your list and you're willing to spend a little more, then flank steak is a great choice. Just remember, it's not about finding the cheapest cut but getting the best value for your money.

Sometimes, that means splurging a bit for a cut like flank steak that can really elevate your culinary game.

So next time you're at the butcher's, give flank steak a second look. It might just be the perfect fit for your next meal and your budget.

Lucas

Lucas

BBQ Master

Lucas holds a degree in Culinary Arts from the Dallas Culinary Arts School, where he specialized in grilling techniques. He has spent over a decade in the culinary industry, working in high-end steakhouses and hosting popular BBQ events. His passion lies in experimenting with different grilling methods and sharing his knowledge with others. Lucas’ expertise ensures that every recipe he shares has been tested and perfected on the grill.