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Thursday, March 28, 2013

How to Afford Grass Fed Beef

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)...


...Buy in bulk straight from local farmers.

Where to Find Grass Fed Beef

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. 

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.

10 comments:

  1. Interesting. We have been thinking of purchasing a quarter cow. My husband's family used to do it every year he was growing up.

    I'm interested to see what the cost difference will be seeing that we are in Alberta.

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  2. Pinned! I'm sure there will be many families who will appreciate this.

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  3. We've planned on buying half a half a cow for some time now. Does Meadowfed Farms grass finish, too? They might be too far a drive for us. I was leaning towards 3 Sisters Cattle.

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  4. Love this post! I'm such a big fan of grass-fed beef (and pastured piggys). We have a great farm we buy ours from here in Michigan. I figured up once that our meat comes out to about $4.50/lb. That is after butchering, cut to our specification, vacuum packed, and delivered to our door. I think it's quite a bargain. Sure you can get ground beef for cheaper.... but once you add in all of the steaks, roasts, and other cuts. I really think you make out better than purchasing meat from the grocery store! I hope you'll link this up to our Wellness Wednesday Link-up next week!

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  5. Wow! I wish I lived somewhere where this was possible. Maybe someday. As of right now I don't eat meat, but I wouldn't be opposed to eating meat like this! Thanks for sharing!

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  6. When we lived in Uruguay, we were so spoiled! It was just a few bucks a pound for grassfed beef and it was amazing. I have been trying to figure out a way to afford more grassfed beef in US, so I appreciate the inspiration!

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  7. Great post topic! We have been thinking about buying a cow for meat and I appreciate your information! Right now I get our meat at a local farm stand or at our farmers' market, but not in bulk.

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  8. Great blog post! We have been thinking about buying a cow in whole or part for meat and I really appreciate your information! Currently I get our beef at a local farm stand or at our farmers' market.

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  9. Great post! My aunt raises grass fed beef in Eastern Washington and paid us back on a loan one year with a quarter cow. The meat was very good, but getting it back across the country to Massachusetts was a bit of a challenge.

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  10. This is actually really good information on finding affordable grass-fed beef! I'm vegetarian, but the hubs loves beef. Thanks for the info!

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