Have you ever bought a side of beef? Or bought meat directly from the farmer? (Like we do in our CSA). It’s cheaper than buying meat from the grocery store or butcher – cut out the middleman – and if you buy a side of beef that comes from a grass fed cow, the savings are even greater. All you need is a spare freezer and a hungry stomach. A side of beef can weigh up to 250 pounds! A friend of mine recently bought $1,730 worth of beef directly from the rancher.
Here’s how much meat she got for $1,730
Note, my friend Eve did not buy a side of beef. She realized that she would end up paying for a lot of cuts she didn’t want, like cow heart or Osso Buco. Here’s what she said:
A few months ago we ordered a 1/2 cow and split it with my neighbor. That ran us about $800 or so. I didn’t want to split another one with her so I called the ranch cause they did advertise that they sold 1/4 cows, but I was told that they no longer did that.
To buy a half you pay for the hanging weight. That is the weight of the meat before the fat. bones, etc… are removed. Then it came out to be about $5.50 a pound. You get some normal cuts of meat, but then you get things that you may not want or care to use.
When I called the Ranch this morning the guy told me that the meat prices had gone up, that it would run about $6 a pound now for a 1/2. and that I would wind up with about 200 pounds of useable meat and half of that would be ground beef. He said I would get more of what I wanted and less ground beef if I just selected the cuts I wanted and paid the normal price.
I figured it out and we will be getting more meals by doing it this way then by ordering the 1/2. I won’t get Osso Buco, brisket or other cuts that I don’t want.
What my friend got for her $1,730
Top Sirloin – 20 pounds @ $16/pound = $320
Sirloin Tip – 20 pounds @ $15/pound = $300
Flank Steak – 10 pounds @ $16/pound = $160
Stew Meat – 20 pounds @ $9/pound = $180
Skirt Steak = 20 pounds @ $16/pound = $320
Ground beef – 50 pounds @ $35 for 5 pounds ($7/pound) = $350
Carne Asada – 10 pounds @ $10/pound = $100
Total: 150 lbs of beef for $1,730.00.
That’s $11.53 per pound!
The last time I wrote about buying beef from a farmer, in 2009, the going rate was $4/lb for 250 pounds of beef. But that was for a side of beef, which includes a lot of lower priced cuts. My friend bought higher priced cuts of meat, like sirloin and skirt steak. Still, $11.53 per pound seems like a lot. I’m not familiar with grass fed beef prices. How much do you pay in the store for grass fed beef?
Cost aside, 150 pounds of beef is a lot of beef to eat in one year – more than a third of a pound per day. And I’m sure she eats other forms of meat, too. (My friend’s kiddos are in college so it’s just her and hubs chowing on that beef!) We rarely eat beef because it is so expensive and not as healthy as chicken, pork, or vegetarian sources of protein. But we are big meat eaters and only eat vegetarian about once a week. (Rice and beans is my go-to vegetarian meal. Second in line is chick peas with big slices of onions cooked in Indian spices.)
I’d estimate that we spend $25 per week on meat
I cook pork sausages frequently because they defrost quickly and are easy to cook. They have so much flavor in them that I don’t have to mess with spices or add additional salt. And we eat a lot of chicken, whole birds that I can make chicken stock from and skinless boneless chicken breasts that I filet for quicker defrosting. (And we tend to eat less meat when I filet them. Video below shows how to filet chicken breasts.)
Skip to 1:00 when she starts to filet them. I only cut them into two but she does it into three! She also trims a LOT more meat off than I do.
Our $25 per week adds up to $1,300 per year on meat
I suspect the number may be even higher because we spend a lot more money on meat around the holidays and when we have parties or host guests. We buy a mix of organic grass-fed meats and traditional meat. I’m trying to save money on meat buy cooking less meat. One trick I use is to cut the pieces into very small bites. It makes it seem like there is more.
How much do you spend per year on meat?