Buying Bulk Beef

I’ve been talking about buying 25-50 pounds of beef for a while and am finally getting ready to take the plunge.

Here’s how I figured out where I wanted to buy my beef from.  I used Eat Wild as a kind of phone book for grass-fed meat products in Wisconsin.  I found a few farms that offered grass-fed beef in my area and had beef available, then looked at their pricing and what kind of meat I would be getting to make my final decision.  I decided on getting 25 pounds of beef from Paine Family Farm near Columbus, WI, which is about 30 miles from my house.  I liked their pricing, packages, and that they would deliver to my house.  They seem committed to the business of grass-fed beef and even post pictures of their calves.

Gavin and my friends had a few questions that I’ll try to answer:

  • How much space does 50 pounds of beef take up? Paine Family Farms told me it would fit in four large grocery bags and that it would fill a standard freezer with nothing else in it.  That’s why I decided to go with 25 pounds–I am planning on having a lot of other stuff in my freezer very soon.
  • Isn’t that really expensive? Actually, buying grass-fed beef in bulk is pretty affordable.  My farm sells it for about $4.80 a pound when you buy 50 pounds at a time or $5 when you buy 25 pounds at a time.  If you compare it to the cost of commercial ground beef, it’s not too far off–except you are paying that price per pound for ground beef, roasts, and steaks.  You can also buy organ meats for around $3 a pound.  Plus the beef is great quality!
  • How long does beef keep in the freezer? Looking at different University extension programs gives different answers, in the same ballpark.  Kansas State University says that roasts and steaks will last 6-12 months and ground beef will last 3-4 months.  Purdue University says ground beef, roasts, and steaks will all last 6 months.  Again, this helped me decide to only get 25 pounds.
  • Are you going to get stuck with terrible cuts? You should get an idea of the cuts you’ll be getting when you buy your beef.  They’re not all things I would buy by themselves, but I look it at like a CSA box–you are getting pushed out of your comfort zone.  This has the added benefit of teaching you new things, expanding your cooking skills, and knowing you are using more of the animal.
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