Geeking Out Over Meat

Geek out with me here. I’m about to share what I love about buying meat – that’s right, meat – in bulk.

The Process

Every once in a while (once or twice a year), I make a call to my local butcher. I actually enjoy talking to him for entertainment, because he takes butchering so seriously and I find it kind of humorous.

I ask him when he’ll have availability for the meat I’d like to order (in the most recent cases, a half beef and/or a whole pork). Then, when it gets closer to time, I’ll get a call back asking me for the specifics of my order: what cuts, how many pounds in each package, etc.

I called him early April and asked about both a whole pork and a half beef. He gave me a timeline of the end of April for the pork, and the end of May for the half beef.

And now I’ll stop giving a play by play on that part of process because I’m beginning to bore myself. Fast forward.

I picked up 141 pounds of pork and 277.5 pounds of beef. I’ll break down the cuts we received, and give you the real reason I’m geeking out: the little bit of money we paid per pound.

Sure, buying in bulk is a larger dollar amount up front, but over time, saves hundreds of dollars. For our family, who consumes meat every day, and who hosts family gatherings or has friends over for meals, we can go through a lot of meat over a six to 12 month period.

Spending several hundred dollars up front in order to save even more hundreds of dollars over time is a no-brainer.

The Breakdown

Here’s the breakdown of what we received for the pork (note: ground pork is in 1 lb packages, hams are half-hams, chops are 4 per package):

  • 14 pkgs Ground Pork
  • 4 Half Hams
  • 2 pkgs Ham Hocks
  • 8 pkgs Pork Chops (+ 1 solo Pork Chop)
  • 4 pkgs Shoulder Roast
  • 6 pkgs Country Style Ribs
  • 7 pkgs Cottage Bacon
  • 15 pkgs Bacon
  • 2 large bags of Pork Fat (to render into lard)*

Here’s the breakdown of what we received for the beef (note: all roasts are around 3 pounds, steaks are 4 to a package, ground beef is in 2 lb. packages):

  • 7 Chuck Roasts
  • 2 Round Roasts
  • 2 Arm Roasts
  • 1 Brisket
  • 32 pkgs Ground Beef
  • 2 pkgs Stew Meat
  • 7 Tenderized Round Steak
  • 3 pkgs Short Ribs
  • 7 pkgs Soup Bones*
  • 6 pkgs T-Bone Steak (which are 2 per package, not 4 like other steaks)
  • 3 pkgs Rib Steak
  • 2 pkgs Sirloin Tip Steak
  • 5 pkgs Sirloin Steak
  • 3 pkgs Tenderloin Steak
  • 1 Beef Heart*
  • 1 Beef Tongue*
  • 2 pkgs Beef Liver*
  • 1 box Ground Suet (for rendering into tallow)*

The * means that product was not factored into the weight of what I purchased. Consider them bonus items.

How I Used To Buy Meat

With these various cuts of meat, our meal options are essentially limitless. Before I ever knew about buying from a butcher or direct from a farmer, I would go to the store (sometimes several times a week) and buy what I wanted to make for specific meals.

That took time, fuel, and expense. Also, if the store happened to be out of something? There goes the whole plan, and I spent more time trying to plan on the fly.

Not only were we locked in to having the meal I planned for (or panicked for if my plan went south), but we were locked into paying market price for the meat, no matter if it went up or down (though rarely did it go down).

We never bought T-bone steaks, because they were the priciest steaks in the store. Two steaks were sometimes more than we would pay for dinner out. Now we have six packages of T-bones in our freezer!

On top of that, I had no control over where the meat came from (most often it was not U.S. meat, and therefore not as fresh as they tried to make it look), how it was raised, or whether it was ethically or humanely processed. I had to choose from what was in the case, like it or not.

The Perks of Buying Meat Local

Not only do we have options available to us for different meals no matter the cooking mood, but I don’t have to go to the store (which is a huge bonus because #introvertproblems), and I don’t have to pay market prices. I simply walk to the freezer, open the door, and decide on a scrumptious meal based on what’s available in our home already.

Not only do I know our meat was raised locally and ethically, but I know the names of the farmers. I know the butcher by name – we text about my orders, for crying out loud – and I’ve seen his facility and know his work ethic and practices.

All of those factors are important to me.

The kicker, and what I still can’t wrap my mind around, is how little we actually spend to obtain all of this meat.

The Cost

Understand for the pork, we also pay a processing fee to cure the hams and the bacon, because I opted to have them cured. The cost is minimal compared to the time and energy spent having to do it myself.

141 pounds of pork as listed worked out to $2.68/lb. You can’t even buy a pound of good bacon for less than $7! I got several packages of bacon for $2.68, plus half hams, plus cottage bacon, plus…! – unbelievable. It’s a steal.

For the beef, I paid a fee to have the cube steaks tenderized, but it’s such a minimal cost, and that particular meat is almost so worthless anyway, I’ll keep paying to do whatever it takes to make it more palatable. (It’s best used in stews, pot pies, marinades…whatever it can soak in for long periods of time, and cooked slowly so it’s as tender as possible.)

277.5 (can’t leave off that half pound) pounds of beef as listed worked out to $3.19/lb. Did I mention we have 12 T-bone steaks in our freezer? If I were to buy those from the store, I’d pay almost a quarter of what I paid for the entire half beef!

Eight pounds of stew meat, 64 pounds of ground beef, steaks and roasts galore, a brisket – – all of that and more for $3.19/lb.

Do you see how buying in bulk saves hundreds of dollars down the road? Do you see why I geek out a little over buying meat once (or twice) a year in large quantities, and why it’s so completely worth it?

I’m geeking out so hard, I feel like we need to celebrate. Maybe we’ll have burgers for dinner, topped with bacon. And use slices of ham for our buns. With a side of steak.

Not really, that would be insane. But if we were insane, we could do it. Because we have it. For relatively inexpensive.

GEEKING. OUT.

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