During my lectures and some conversations it seems that buying larger amounts of meat(s) is coming back in fashion.
So let us break down the purchasing of a Side of Beef or Hindquarter:
If you have a large family and use all of it up in under 6 month you might want to look into it.
But let me point out the positives and negatives of this concept.
The pluses are:
- You will have a freezer full of meat and, if you plan a day ahead, you can have meat dishes without running to the store, ergo savings in gas.
- The price per pound “is” cheaper.
- It is wrapped for you in airtight packages to go right into the freezer.
- It is already frozen, using less of your home energy for the initial freeze.
- All packages are marked.
- You will usually receive an inventory list.
Makes life easy, right!
Now let’s look at the negative:
- The savings in comparison over regular counter prices are only there if you have your order straight cut through. If your change the cuts, as an example if you do not like Top Sirloin Steaks and have them ground up into Hamburger, you change a higher price cut into a cheaper one, you might just have lost all your savings from the whole Side of Beef.
- The Steaks and Primal Roasts will be long gone and you will have all the secondary (cheaper) cuts left over in your freezer, you had better get used to soups and stews.
- When you buy a whole Side or Hind you also buy all the fat and the bones, which you cannot use and can amount, depending on the yield, to half of your purchase price!
- You will have to run an extra freezer, this matters only if you don’t use one already.
The next argument I often heard was: “Oh, I buy direct from the farmer.”
Let’s break this one down.
Not many farmers I know of still kill their own beef. Yes, one of my butcher friends, with his business out in the Boonies, used to be hired by the farmer(s) in his area for that reason, but the last time he did it was quite a few years ago and he then was more often hired to butcher hogs.
The small local slaughter houses (if they didn’t close the doors yet, like many, that I know of) are government inspected, so there should not be any safety concerns about your meat. But not many have a Government Grader on hand to give your cow (it is actually a steer or heifer) the, in my opinion, desired USDA Choice rating. So you are in the end, buying “ungraded” beef. (See my post on Inspection and Grading)
To sum this up, if you have a larger family, use all the cuts as they are straight cut and run a freezer no matter what, this might be a way for you to save.
My suggestion is, if you had a freezer order like this before, take your inventory sheet (we always supplied one for our customers), which should include the weights of the different cuts, go to your supermarket or meat department and mark down the prices in the counter. Multiply these with the weight, add it all together and actually see how much money you saved. (If you don’t have any of these lists and want to check into it write me a comment and I will post one of my old cutting tests for you.)
Now to the next step: Check your newspaper, flyers in the mail or online meat department advertisements and do the same as above. You might see that buying specials saves you more money than freezer orders or bundles. (Always figure in the time and price of wrapping your meat for the freezer.)
In the next post I will go into sensible ways to buy and save, (IMHO)