Gearing up for summer yet? Cleaning off the grill and shining up the tools? One of the biggest favors you can do for yourself this season is to learn what kind of meat to buy for the type of meal you’re planning. Stopping at your local meat market, or the delicious spread at the butcher’s counter can be an intimidating venture if you don’t know your beef!

For starters, the United States Department of Agriculture categorizes beef into eight different grades including Prime, Choice, Select, Standard, Commercial, Utility, Cutter and Canner.

These grades are based on the amount of marbling in the meat and the age of the animal. The grades judge the meat based on tenderness, juiciness and flavor.

Prime meat has an abundant amount of marbling, which creates tenderness and flavor when cooked. The marbled fat melts when cooked and adds juiciness to the lean meat.

Choice meat is less expensive than prime meat and has slightly less marbling, but still a sufficient amount for plenty of tenderness and flavor.

Select meat, typically the lowest grade offered to consumers, has less marbling and is less expensive than choice and prime beef. This grade is, however, leaner than the two more expensive grades.

Thd different types of steaks and how you should cook them

The following is an easily printable list to bring with you next time you’re at the grocery store so you know what you’re buying and how it should be cooked!

1. Chuck

The chuck is one of the most exercised muscular areas of the animal, and hence, the toughest. Chuck beef is primarily used for braising and making pot roast, stew meat, making stock, and for grinding into ground beef. Hamburger is typically composed primarily of chuck.

1. Chuck pot roast
How to Cook: Pot Roast

2. Chuck steak
How to Cook: Pot Roast, Braise

3. Shoulder Top Blade
How to Cook: Grill, Broil, Skillet

4. Shoulder Pot Roast
How to Cook: Pot Roast

5. Shoulder Steak
How to Cook: Marinate and Grill or Broil, Braise

6. Shoulder Center
How to Cook: Grill, Broil

7. Shoulder Petite Tender
How to Cook: Grill, Broil, Roast

8. Boneless Short Ribs
How to Cook: Braise

2. Brisket and Shank

Brisket and shank is best when boiled (such as in the case of corned beef and cabbage) or slow cooked and used in a pot roast. The shank is best when braised, or used to make stews and stocks.

1. Shank Cross Cut
How to Cook: Stew

2. Brisket Flat Cut
How to Cook: Pot Roast

3. Round

The round often contributes to ground beef mixtures. All round cuts are tough, but the top round is the least so. It is most successful when slow roasted. Other round cuts are best when braised, or roasted with the assistance of added liquid to keep the meat tender.

1. Top Round Steak
How to Cook: Marinate and Grill or Broil

2. Bottom Round Roast
How to Cook: Pot Roast

3. Bottom Round Steak
How to Cook: Braise, Marinate and Grill or Broil

4. Eye Round Roast
How to Cook: Roast

5. Eye Round Steak
How to Cook: Braise, Marinate and Grill or Broil

6. Round Tip Roast
How to Cook: Roast

7. Round Tip Steak
How to Cook: Skillet

8. Sirloin Tip Center Roast
How to Cook: Roast

9. Sirloin Tip Center Steak
How to Cook: Grill, Broil, Skillet

10. Sirloin Tip Side Steak
How to Cook: Marinate and Grill or Broil

4. Plate and Flank

The plate and flank are medium-tough cuts of beef. While the muscle fibers are strong, there is a sufficient amount of marbling, which softens and tenderizes the meat while cooking.

1. Skirt Steak
How to Cook: Marinate and Grill or Broil

2. Flank Steak
How to Cook: Marinate and Grill or Broil

5. Rib

The rib is one of the most delicate cuts of beef. The best methods of cooking include broiling, grilling, sauteing and roasting.

1. Rib Roast
How to Cook: Roast

2. Rib Steak
How to Cook: Grill, Broil

3. Ribeye Roast
How to Cook: Roast

4. Ribeye Steak
How to Cook: Grill, Broil, Skillet

5. Back Ribs
How to Cook: Grill, Broil

6. Loin

The loins are always boneless, except in the cut of a Porterhouse or T-Bone steak. These are the most juicy and flavorful parts of the animal, with the most marbling and tenderness.

1. Porterhouse steak
How to Cook: Grill, Broil, Skillet

2. T-Bone steak
How to Cook: Grill, Broil, Skillet

3. Top loin steak
How to Cook: Grill, Broil, Skillet

4. Tenderloin Roast
How to Cook: Roast

5. Tenderloin Steak
How to Cook: Grill, Broil, Skillet

7. Sirloin

The sirloin is one of the most delicate cuts of beef. The best methods of cooking include broiling, grilling, sauteing and roasting.

1. Tri-Tip Roast
How to Cook: Roast, Grill, Broil

2. Tri-Tip Steak
How to Cook: Grill, Broil

3. Top Sirloin Steak
How to Cook: Grill, Broil

So there you have it. Now you know what to order the next time you are staring blankly at the delicious looking case of meat at your favorite market, wondering what will be the perfect piece to complete your meal!