If you’ve ever received the bill for your filet steak at a fancy restaurant and almost dropped to the floor, you’re not alone. Steak is notorious for being an expensive luxury that many enjoy on a rare occasion.
A quality steak is seen by many as a reward, a food that is enjoyed from time to time to celebrate a new job or something positive in your life.
In this post we’re going to answer a question we are asked regularly, why is steak so expensive?
First, we need to look at the word expensive, it’s a word that is subjective to the individual using it, what I find expensive you may find value in, and vice-versa.
If you’re currently on a mega-yacht somewhere in the United Arab Emirates then you’ll likely not be concerned about the price of steak, and therefore likely not reading this post.
But for the rest of us, we’re well aware that steak comes with a hefty price tag, so let’s take a look why…
Where Steak Comes From
Unfortunately, steak isn’t something that grows or trees or we can plant and then pick from the earth. And therefore there is actually quite a substantial amount of work required before that beautiful tender meat lands on your plate.
Steak comes from either cows or bulls, typically raised specifically for meat. These animals have to be raised, fed, and looked after before ultimately they end up as meat.
This comes at an expense, which is one of the reasons why steak is notorious for being quite an expensive food. Beef cattle are generally slaughtered between 1 and 2 years of their life in Europe.
However, this can sometimes be up to 5 years, meaning they are reared for quite a long time before they are culled for meat.
During this time there are expenses that end up being passed down to us the consumers. Farmers will typically want their cattle to weigh around 1000 pounds before it is slaughtered.
This means that the farmers have to ensure that the cattle are fed ample food to grow to this weight, which means they need to be fed plenty of food.
Some farmers even go as far as to give their cattle coats in the winter to stop them from getting cold, and they’ll feed their cattle on a strict diet for 3 – 5 years before slaughtering them.
The Cut Largely Defines The Price
When it coems to the price of steak, this is largely defined on the quality of the meat that you select.
Not all steak is created equal, some are incredibly premium such as Wagyu and Filet, whilst others are not super high-end, such as Rump and Chuck-Eye Steak.
As mentioned above, Japanese farmers who raise Wagyu cattle are incredibly strict when it comes to rearing the animals. They’ll go above and beyond to ensure that the cattle is looked after properly all the way up to the day it is slaughtered.
This is because they want the cattle to grow as large as possible and have a considerable amount of fat, which ultimately makes the Wagyu steak the most expensive in the world.
When it comes to British Rump, farmers aren’t so strict. It’s typically a numbers game with regards to cattle as they want to have as many as possible for the maximum amount of profit.
This means that they won’t look after the cattle as much as the Japanese farmers, so the price for us consumers is cheaper as there is not as much expense.
Another huge price factor when it comes to steak is the cut, quality cuts come from high up on the animal from muscles that aren’t used very much.
This is why the steak is so tender from these cuts, such as filet, sirloin, and t-bone steak. The muscles have barely been used in these cuts so much more tender and juicy.
If you’re looking for a steak that is on the cheaper side, then it’ll often come from muscles that have been used frequently, usually coming from the round, chuck, or bottom sirloin.
That being said these cuts still provide a lot of nutritional value, so the likes of bodybuilders who are looking to pack on a lot of muscle are more than happy to eat the type of steak.
This is because it’s great value for money, and also pound for pound one of the best foods you can eat for packing on muscle.
However, if you’re looking for the highest quality steak for a celebratory meal, you’ll often be paying for a quality cut such as a filet, which is much more tender.
The expensive cuts come from a very small portion of the cattle carcass, around 8 – 10%. So the butcher has to charge a significant amount of these cuts as he’s essentially left with 90% of a carcass that is low-quality meat.
How To Shop For Great Value Steak
If you’re horrified when you look at the price of steak in the supermarket then don’t fear, you’re not alone. The price of steak has slowly been increasing over the past decade as diets such as the carnivore and paleo diet have become more popular.
The demand for good quality beef has only been going up and up, meaning the price of steak has also increased with it.
So how do you get the best bang for your buck when it comes to steak?
The first thing you can do is opt for a steak that isn’t of the highest quality but still provides great value for money. As I’ve mentioned above this is what a lot of gym-goers do as steak is great for protein intake but can also be pricey.
Opting for rump, sirloin or rib-eye can all be cost-effective options that won’t break the bank when shopping for steak. Flat iron steak can also be a great option for those on a budget. This steak is from the shoulder of the cattle, it’s not quite as tender but is very flavourful thanks to the marbling.
Flat iron steak is typically cut into thin portions, making them perfect to BBQ or grill, they also don’t take long to cook because of this.
Another great way to shop for good-value steak is to check out your local butcher shop. The local butchers can have a hard time competing with large supermarkets nowadays, so they’ll often be more than happy to accommodate those on a strict budget.
Why Is Steak So Expensive In Restaurants?
Everyone loves a good date night, but what isn’t so lovable is when the bill comes and it’s enough to put you off steak for a few months.
Steak in restaurants can be extremely expensive, here in the UK you can pay anywhere from £20 – £70 for a good quality steak and that’s not including sides or drinks.
But why is steak so expensive in restaraunts?
Well, when the restaraunt brings in the steak, the don’t sell it immediatlely and have to freeze it for some time before cooking.
This means that the steak takes up real estate, which only adds to the price. Another reason you’ll typically pay a premium when eating steak in a restaurant is that you’re not only paying for the food, you’re also paying for the experience.
Having someone cook your steak for you and a waiter brings your food out to you also costs a premium, as well as the accommodation of being in a fancy restaurant.
Restaraunts are ultimately a business, so they have overheads that they need to cover to make a profit.
Some restaurants will charge more than others, but unfortunately, that’s just the way restaurants operate so you will always pay more for steak in a restaurant than cooking at home.
Marketing also comes into play, restaurants will often have marketing teams that will lure their customers in and give fancy names to their steak, making them sound better than they actually are.
The ‘ultra premium exotic filet mignon 5000’ can fool anyone into paying over the ods for a slab of meat.
Yes, steak is expensive. But it’s also food that is delicious and is incredibly good for you. Steak has been one of my favourite foods for many years, but nowadays I much prefer to cook steak at home than going to a restaurant.
Not only do I save money doing this, but I also cook the steak exactly how I want it and can ensure that I’m up to my own hygiene standards.
The price of steak is generally down to where you’re eating the steak, as well as the cut of steak you’re eating.
Filet mignon is always going to be more expensive that rump, but it’s also much more tender and is a more premium cut.
Hopefully, you’ve learned a thing or two about why steak is expensive in this post, if you’re looking to save money then I highly recommend cooking steak at home.
Not only will your cooking skills improve, but you’ll also save money and impress your partner by cooking up a beautiful steak in the kitchen!