I just got a call from the farm that I buy our beef from. My cow’s ready – all 496 pounds of it! Ground meat. Roasts. Steaks. Even the organ meats. Now you’re probably thinking that I must be rich, but I’m not. I’m just a budgeting health nut who plans ahead (if that makes any sense).
You see, I don’t pay any more for my t-bone steaks than I do for my soup meat or ground beef. I buy the whole cow, though I could get just a half or quarter if we ate less, and pay a fixed price per pound for the entire cow no matter what the cut of meat is.
The farm I buy from has 2 separate herds, though both are antibiotic-free. The grain-fed cows sell for $2.25 per pound. The grass-fed, a much much healthier option, sell for $2.75 per pound. I buy grass-fed, so my total this year for my 496-pound cow to be all cut, cut, wrapped, frozen, and ready for me to pick up is $1364.
How in the world do i come up with $1364 at once to buy hundreds of pounds of beef? I don’t. I save a certain amount every month, the entire year, to purchase my beef with every summer. I started out slow and only bought a quarter, then moved up to a half. Last year was the first time I bought a whole cow, and although we do have a little bit still left, we used most of it. Besides, we don’t know how big or little the cow will be from year to year, and it’s better to have too much than not enough.
Another option some might consider would be to use your tax return for your first cow. I haven’t done that, but if your return is large enough I see no reason that you couldn’t.
The farm I buy from is about an hour away, and I do have to drive down to pick it up, but it’s worth the drive. I also have to have 2 freezers to keep my cow in, so I bought a used chest freezer for $40 last year to go along with my discounted scratch & dent upright freezer from Lowe’s that I bought for a ridiculously low price years before. My house is pretty small though, so the freezers have to be kept in the basement, but at least I don’t have to run to the grocery store every week to buy beef, and if one freezer breaks I’ll still have the other freezer full of meat.
I highly recommend that everyone find a local (or local-ish) farm and buy a quarter, half, or whole grass-fed beef. It’s healthy, convenient, and a great conversation starter (not that you really needed that part, but it is funny to see people’s reactions when they hear you bought a cow). If you’re not sure where to find a farm, ask around or visit EatWild.com. And don’t forget to save up for it, budgeting is what makes it affordable!
Article by Randi Millward