Buying Beef in Bulk

We are meat eaters around here, and one of the ways we ensure that our family eats quality meat at an affordable price is to buy it in bulk from farmers we trust. 
Buying Beef in Bulk

I’ll be the first to admit that 100% grass fed beef is not a high priority for me.  We purchased a quarter of 100% grass fed beef once, and the taste and texture simply wasn’t worth the price.  For us.  Don’t forget, friends, this (very long and drawn out ;)  ) series is all about exploring real(er) food options and figuring out what works best for you and your family!

While we don’t stress about all pastured, grazing, grass fed beef, we have always purchased our beef in bulk from farmers who take good care of their animals.  Just a couple weeks ago I was making hamburger patties from meat that was not ours and was not purchased from a farmer and, well… gaggity gag gag.  The fat was clinging to my skin, and I literally had to scrape it off before I could even wash my hands.  Ack!  That experience was a stark reminder that there really is a difference in meat depending on what the animals are fed and how they are cared for.

Back to my freezer.

Earlier this summer we filled our freezer with a quarter of beef.  This beef will likely last our family 7-8 months.  I also just got off the phone with the butcher, placing my cutting order for a 1/2 hog that will arrive next week, and I buy whole chickens throughout the year from a local Mennonite farm.

Our beef quarter is 132 pounds of a variety of cuts and cost us $3.19 per pound.  I don’t even know what meat costs at a store to know what kind of a “bargain” I’m getting, but remember, that’s $3.19 per pound for roasts and steaks, too!

meat

Here’s how our quarter was packaged:

  • 1 large brisket
  • 35 1-pound packages of hamburger
  • 6 packages soup bones (for homemade beef stock/broth)
  • 2 chuck roasts (3 pounds each)
  • 1 chuck eye steak (this is new to me!)
  • 1 pikes peak roast (3 pounds)
  • 3 packages sirloin steak (2 steaks per package)
  • 4 packages t-bone steak (2 steaks per package)
  • 2 packages stew meat
  • 2 packages ribeye steak (2 steaks per package)
  • 7 packages round steak
  • 1 package beef filets
  • 1 arm roast (3 pounds)

Our beef quarter fits nicely in 3 plastic crates and takes up less than 1/2 of our deep freezer space.  We have four of those crates stacked in the freezer and then other things packed around them.

Because we know it’s coming, writing the $419.30 check to fill our freezer with beef isn’t too terribly painful, especially considering the convenience of having all different cuts of meat handy for menu planning and menu changes.

Our favorite beef recipes can be found in my Recipe Index, but here are some highlights:

What questions do you have about buying/using/storing beef in bulk?  I’m certainly not an expert but would be happy to answer based on experience!

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Grocery catch up!  As of July 13:  $294.60 (No, I have not figured out how the weeks get away from me!)

  • 7/15 Tropical Traditions, $16.21 ~ palm shortening (for frying things), dark chocolate ~ paid shipping only
  • 7/17 Dollar Tree, $10.72 ~ 2 packages hot dog buns, 2 packages hamburger buns, 6 loaves bread (Nature’s Own bread at Dollar Tree is one of my all-time favorite convenience buys.)
  • 7/17 Aldi, $63.12 ~ birthday food for Miss 6 and lots of staples
  • 7/24 Azure, $30.44 ~ flour, yogurt, walnuts, cheese, oats (I am now getting a Drop Manager discount.  What a blessing!)
  • 7/26 Beef, $327.75 (paid for processing in June)
  • 7/27 Dillons, $19.38 ~ crackers, butter, ranch dip, eggs, bananas, peaches, buttermilk, milk
  • 7/30 Dillons, $34.82 ~ guacamole, cottage cheese, butter, carrots, milk, spinach, lettuce, sugar, tomatoes, tortilla chips

April Grocery Total:  $434.21

May Grocery Total:  $456.82

June Grocery Total:  $469.84

July Grocery Total:  $797.04 (including 1/4 beef)

Four month average:  $539.46

I’ve said it before and I’ll stress it again:  Please do not gasp in horror about how little or how much I spend on groceries.  Our circumstances, abilities, resources, and priorities are all so different that it’s senseless to compare such things!  I share these numbers only as a point of reference for my family, not as a guide for yours.  Carry on!  :)

 

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Comments

  1. I think it’s great that you have found a balance for healthy eating. I’m trying to ease up a bit on my ideals, but it’s hard! And your budgeting really isn’t anyone’s business. You’re so right that everyone’s circumstances are different, and it doesn’t work to compare really. For example. I have four kids and live in Canada. My bills will be so much different!

  2. Hello: I have always wanted to buy meat this way but do not know where a place is to buy it from close to where I live. I live in Pittsburgh, do you or anyone reading this know of places within driving distance? thanks

  3. Tabitha Richardson says:

    How do you find a local farm to buy beef and do you have to buy that much at a time? I’d LOVE to do this! Store beef is so nasty!!!

    • I’ve actually been very fortunate to buy from family while they were doing it, and then I saw (on Facebook) that a local family had some, so mine have been personal contacts. http://www.localharvest.org/ is a good resource for farms of all kinds. You could also look up local butchers and ask them about area farms that use their service. I’ve also seen “ISO” posts in local buy/sell/trade groups seeking beef and produce purchases.

      I actually bought a half and split it with my sister this time. I think the “usual” is to purchase a half, but some places will sell beef “bundles” that are smaller. I think I’ve read Katie from KitchenStewardship.com mention buying a 1/8 once. I don’t know how she managed that, though. It would work well to split an order with friends or family if others are interested! :)

  4. Angie Jacobs says:

    I spend up to $500 a month on groceries for 3 of us and we have our own meat! I think you are doing great!!!! And there is nothing better than meat from the farm!!

  5. We recently bought a pig from a farmer and will buy part of a cow later. I love it!

  6. Remember we were discussing forever ago freezing meatloaf etc made from previously frozen hamburger? I’ve been doing it for a while now, works great! I do cook it before freezing. I typically make 4-6 1 lb meat loaves and bake them all together, cool the ones we don’t eat, slice, and either wrap the whole loaf back up or wrap 2 slices together for sandwiches. We love Crystal’s cheeseburger meatloaf recipe except I make a sauce for the top using ketchup, brown sugar, liquid smoke, Worcestershire sauce, and sometimes garlic powder. I also bulk cook cheesy ranch mashed potatoes and freeze those for the easiest meal ever!

    • Yes, I do! :) I still freeze my meatballs/meatloaf raw. I’m SUCH a food rules breaker! But your method does sound perfect for sandwiches.

  7. Sheila Laurence says:

    I am just blown away every time I see people able to get beef for prices like that. I have looked several times (including again today on the link you provided) and our local farmer’s market, and I have never found anything less than about double that price. It is simply not something I can do. If I could get it for the price you do, I would be on it.!

    • Oh man, Sheila. Where are you from? Maybe one of my readers will see your state and know a resource for you. And yes. Counting my blessings on my meat prices! (Also, someone commented on FB that they get theirs for just over a DOLLAR a pound and my jaw dropped to the floor. Surely not!)

      • Sheila Laurence says:

        I’m in northern Arizona, so not exactly cattle country, but would love it if anyone does have resources around here. Thanks!

  8. We get our meat locally also. We’re actually part of a meat co-op that orders every other month. So we get a price break but we don’t have to order for more than 2 months if we don’t want to. (I came over from MSM google+ page)

    • Oh, that’s a great idea! Especially for people who don’t have a large extra freezer, I would imagine. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Oy. My fear of freezer burn is costing me a lot of money. Reading this makes me WANT to be braver!!

    • Be brave! :) They wrap stuff in special freezer paper or shrink wrap. Good to go!

    • Robin – I just made a delicious beef stew from some stew meat that I had forgotten about from three years ago. Because the butcher wraps it so well, it was perfectly fine and probably still better than if I had gone to the store and bought fresh!

  10. This post had perfect timing! (Just like your Disney posts awhile back! ;) ) We purchased our Kansas farm raised, 1/3 of beef last week as well. I have immense pressure to find good beef recipes now and this is a great start!!

    Thanks!!

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