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If you’re starting out on a journey to eat healthy real food, the cost of grass fed beef can be overwhelming at first. There is a way to make it more affordable. No, you still won’t be able to match the cut-rate Walmart prices on conventional factory farmed meat, but I can promise there is really no comparison.

How to Save Money on Grass Fed Beef

Here’s how I pay only about $5 per pound for grass fed beef (in Seattle prices)…

Where to Find Grass Fed Beef…Buy in bulk straight from local farmers.

Spring is the time of year to start thinking about reserving a quarter or side of beef to be delivered in the fall.Check out Local Harvest or Eat Wild to find a local grass fed farm in your area. We actually found ours through the recommendation of a friend of a friend who had bought beef from this particular farm for years.
If you happen to be in the Seattle area, we highly recommend Meadowfed Farms. Their product and their customer service are fantastic!BabyE and I had a fun adventure driving up to Lynden to pick up our meat. After we stopped in Bellingham for a picnic, we made it to Lynden Meats just 15 minutes before closing!

How much beef do you get from hanging weight?

A quarter beef lasts our family of two adults and one meat-loving toddler about one year. You typically pay for hanging weight, the weight of the animal before cutting. After cutting and wrapping you’re left with about two-thirds of the hanging weight.

How much meat is in a quarter cow?

For our quarter beef, the hanging weight was 201.5 pounds. That transferred into 137 pounds of actual packaged meat. Of course we got lots of steaks, ground beef, ribs, stew meat, and roasts. We also got soup bones and organ meat. We got to choose the size of the packages based on how much we use in a typical meal.

We got 9 pounds of liver, we assume we actually got the entire liver plus maybe some from other cows. Many people don’t know the health benefits or how to cook liver, so they didn’t choose to take it. I must admit, I did leave the tongue meat behind. I might be more adventurous next time.
  Everything you need to know about buying Grassfed beef in bulk from the farmer to save money, from how much meat to expect from a quarter cow or a half, how much it's going to cost, and where to find a farmer in your area.

How big of a freezer do you need for a quarter cow?

We bought a 7.1 cubic foot chest freezer by Haier to hold our quarter beef. I packed it fairly efficiently and we still had a little bit of room left over for other food.

How much does a quarter beef cost?

A lot will depend on your location when it comes to pricing. Here’s how much we paid for our quarter cow in 2012 in the Seattle area.
We did buy a freezer and cooler this year for transporting and storing the meat. I’m not counting that into the costs as we’ll be able to use it long term. I also spent around $34 in gas to pick up the meat, but your cost will also vary on that, so I didn’t include it in my calculation.
$2.50 per pound x 201.5 pounds hanging weight = $503.75
Estimated Energy for Freezer = $30.00
Cutting and Packaging = 157.79
Total Cost $691.54 / 137 pounds = $5.04 per pound
Just for reference, you can buy grass fed beef online at Costco in a variety pack for around $15 per pound. They charge $7.50 per pound for ground beef. Other online sources of grass fed beef I found range from $10-15 per pound for steaks, $5-10 for roasts, and $5.50 for ground beef not including tax and shipping.

With our $5.04 per pound we got lots of steaks, roasts, as well as ground beef. While it is a big investment, we saved a ton of money on our grass fed beef!

Title image by krossbow on Flikr.

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