Buying beef in bulk is often a wise economic choice for the meat-lovin’ family! You not only save money on all your steaks and roasts, but your meat is usually much higher in quality than the pre-packaged grocery store variety. (Plus you’re actively supporting local farms and businesses as well.) 🙂
Of course there’s no question that buying a whole cow up front costs – literally – an arm and a leg! To combat this, many families will engage in (totally not making this term up) “cow pooling” – where they divvy up the cost of a single animal between themselves and 2-3 other families.
If buying your meat in bulk – or cow pooling – makes more sense to you, here are some points to consider:
- Freezer Space – The rule of thumb is 1 cubic foot of freezer space for every 35-40 lbs of cut and wrapped meat. If you choose to have the bones removed, this may require you to have even more space as the packages will be oddly shaped.
- How Much Meat? – A side of beef weighs about 250 lbs after butchering. That’s a lot of meat!
- Shelf Life – A whole cow has a freezer shelf life of one year. After that, the flavor begins to diminish. If your family can’t possibly consume that much meat (and I know mine falls into that category), seriously consider cow pooling or buying a quarter instead.
- Ask Questions! – This is not only your food we’re talking about, but a serious business transaction, too. Be sure ask the following questions:
- When are orders accepted? How much of an advance notice do you need? (Some facilities only take orders during certain times of the year, so be sure to ask this first!)
- Is the animal grain-fed?
- Where does processing take place? (On-site or at another facility?)
- Is the facility licensed? (That’s a big one…)
- Where is the animal raised?
- How long is the meat aged?
- Fees – Cut/wrap fees can vary but are usually priced around $0.40 per lb. The kill-fee is often a flat charge of about $40 – $50.
Here are two websites that can help you locate a farmer/rancher in your area: Local Harvest and Eat Wild.
Have you ever purchased beef in bulk like this? How much did it cost you per lb?
Jacki Van Meter says
Hello! I just stumbled across your post (super handy!) and thought you might want to hear about a new way to buy a quarter beef (or half, whole, etc.) online. A new service called RanchMeat just launched and it allows ranchers to list their animals in an open marketplace, and buyers can browse local rancher listings and do the whole process online–then either pick up at a processor near them or have it shipped. Check it out: http://www.RanchMeat.com
Try Zaycon fresh. Chicken is 1.69 a pound and is brought directly to you. No middle men. Never been frozen. You can get some beef and pork too. Chicken must be bought in 40 lb. boxes but this fits easily in my small freezer top. It’s a company located in Washington state but has grown to service many states now. I found them 3 years ago and I have never been disappointed. They also give you credits toward meat for referrals.
Beef is definitely up from 2011! I’ve been getting beef by the cut for the last couple of months from a local farm, but will be getting a half steer this summer. The cost is a high for ground beef, but low for steaks, so it all works out. I’m doing it not only to support the local farmer, but because I have an autoimmune disease, and grass fed beef causes way less bodily inflammation than grain fed. Since grass fed is always more expensive than grain fed, even at the grocery, it works out great for us. Glad to know how many pounds per cubic foot it’ll take up. We’re getting a 12.9 cu ft freezer tomorrow to supplement our 3.5 cu ft and side-by-side – it was the biggest that would fit in our space. So I’m glad it’ll hold the beef!
Hi! anyone could tell me where to buy a whole cow that’s not so expensive? I want to keep my budget to $3-$4 a pound.
This can be a great money saver. We purchased half a cow for the first time this fall. I asked the lady for suggestions when ordering the cuts and told her it was my first time. I wish she has made the suggestion that we order as many roasts and steaks as possible. I ended up ordering way too much hamburger. We will use it and it tastes much better than anything you can get in the store but I wish we had more steaks and roasts (expensive cuts).
Melissa Coronel says
PLEASE HELP!! I’ve been searching in my area to buy a half/whole cow but the cost is SUPER high! For example 14.99/lb for ribeyes when i can purchase them at the local store for 4.99/lb. What is the advantage besides possibly grass fed??this is the website I was looking at http://www.silverspringsbeef.com/Pricing.html
I wish I knew where ya’ll were getting your cows. The cheapest I’ve found here (near Charlotte, NC) is $5.00/lb.
If I wanted to stock up on cereal, what are the best deals out there right now? Who has the best deals that I can price match with Walmart and what coupons, if any?
Sara W says
I grew up on the ranch and we always had a butcher beef. Now I am married and hubby and I raise our own lamb, pig, chicken and eggs. It sure is nice knowing what is being fed to them. No junk pumped into them either. We have our small flock of hair sheep (Katahdin) which are more mild and tasty meat then wool sheep. We even cut up our own meat. Saves a bunch.
E-mail me for prices of grass beef and pork.
I have sure been loving reading all your comments! Thanks so much for all your advice and places you have been getting it everyone. You are awesome!