On my weekly meal plan posts I sometimes reference my "cow" purchase especially when it comes to more expensive cuts of meat. If we are having steak for dinner you can bet it came from our cow purchase ($25 a pound for grass fed steak is a little out of my budget). For our last cow purchase we paid around $4.50lb for a cuts of meat (steaks, roasts, short ribs, ground beef). If you prefer conventional beef you can probably buy a cow for around $3lb. The key is purchasing your beef in bulk.
Here are a few simple steps to take when considering purchasing a cow:
1. How much beef do you typically consume? Generally speaking we go through about a 1lb or so a week and more on weeks where I make a roast or steaks. We are not big red meat eaters and I often make meat less than the main focus.
2. Determine what cuts of meat you eat: Many people stick to ground beef and rarely eat steaks or roasts. Although many farmers cut the beef into traditional cuts you can often buy ground beef in bulk as well.
3. Storage: A 1/4 of a cow is about 100lbs of meat (this depends on the breed/size). 100lbs can fit in a regular freezer (the kind that's over your fridge) but you won't be able to fit anything else in there. If you are anything like me you like to store other things in your freezer so you may want to consider purchasing an additional freezer. You can find a used one on Craigslist or a new small chest freezer for about $200. Additionally you could split 1/4 with another family to avoid purchasing a freezer all together.
4. Research: Check out eatwild for farms in your state that sell pastured meats. Ask friends or family for recommendations. Will they let you try a sample of the meat before buying in bulk (these are usually more expensive per pound cost but you can determine if you will like the beef). How do they sell the beef do you have to buy a whole cow, half or can you purchase just a quarter. Usually the more cow you buy the deeper the discount. So you may want to consider purchasing a whole cow with a few other families. If possible I would consider visiting the farm before purchasing, pay attention to the cleanliness, how the animals are treated, etc.
5. Purchase: Contact your farmer and place an order for the beef you want. Keep in mind that you may have to put a deposit down when ordering. It may also take some time for your cow to be ready for pick up. This is not the grocery store so be sure to ask when you can expect to pick up your cow.
6. Pick up your Beef: Bring coolers especially if you have to make a long drive to the farm. When you go to pick up your order, you'll be provided with an inventory of what you ordered. Be sure to do a rough check and make sure you got everything you ordered. As soon as you get home throw your purchase in your freezer and enjoy your beef!
Have you ever bought beef in bulk? Was it a good experience?
Linked to: WFMW, Finer Things Friday, Frugal Friday, WLWW, RH