Disclaimer; I am expressing an opinion based on my experience. Nor am I mentioning names in this article, as this wouldn't be helpful anyway. Wash your hands before during and after preparing your jerky. Dried jerky can be sealed, put in a bowl or refrigerator. You won't have to worry about keeping it long as this stuff goes fast!
As a connoisseur and maker of beef jerky myself, time is usually at a premium to make it. So I buy it for taking to work for snacks, lunches and whatnot. However, prices of have been getting a bit ridiculous. It's about $2.80 AN OUNCE right now, and some manufacturers have been mixing it with pork to keep costs down (Read the labels). I'm not a big fan of pork jerky to begin with (nothing personal, just my preference).
At $2.80 (this is a number I've been seeing) an ounce, this works out to $44.80 a pound. Beef has been getting pricey, and jerky DOES take some energy to make.
As with a lot of things, this one I believe is better done yourself. The price of the equipment to make it can be a bit to start with, but I've had mine 17 years and use it regularly. You can use an oven, a smoker, but I use a food dehydrator that got for about $35. These run about $45 to $50 now, but are well worth it. A meat slicer is also a great thing to have, but buy a roast or two on sale and freeze these a bit to make them easier to cut with a knife.
While you can buy stewing meat and use this, it's going to cost more than a roast that might take you 10 minutes to cut up after it's frozen slightly.
Whatever meat you buy, just make sure it's as lean as you can get it. Fat goes rancid. You will need some or any combination of barbecue sauce, soy sauce, steak sauce, salt, sugar, brown sugar, whatever. The goal is to have something sweet and salty to balance the taste and provide or a good cure. I buy soy sauce and barbecue sauce on sale. You can add additional spices if you want, but these are not necessary. My grandfather used equal amount of salt and sugar with enough water to cover and he never got a complaint about his. I use two parts barbecue sauce to one part soy sauce, and some dry sherry to the marinade, with some water to cover.
Cut the the meat into thin strips or slices; about 1/16 inch thick is best as it takes less time to dry. Put the meat in a pan and add your marinade. I would leave this in overnight and it needs to go in the fridge for same. Lay these out in an oven (temp should be about 155 to 160) on a broiler pan or two and heat for about 5 to 10 hours (this is VERY approximate; you have to keep an eye on it) or in the food dehydrator for about same depending on the dryness you want. I prefer the dehydrator as this doesn't tie up the oven.
Jerky is about taking some time, and effort to make. But it costs less to make than buying it at the store and tastes great. Have fun; Maranatha!