Several years ago, I married my farmer husband. I was a country girl, but I didn’t grow up on a farm. My animals consisted of a dog and a cat. I loved animals and was excited to live on a farm. But being a young, naive bride, I had not considered where our food would come from. I planned on just continuing to shop at the grocery store because, to me, that is where food came from. Soon I learned that as a farmer, you actually eat the food you produce. I knew nothing about buying beef in bulk.
There was a huge learning curve to switch from grocery store shopping to utilizing our harvest of meat, dairy, and vegetables. One of the biggest challenges for me was learning about buying beef in bulk. I am going to share with you what I have learned over the years, so you can avoid some of the mistakes I made when I first started using bulk beef.
Buying beef in bulk has many benefits, however, for a first-time buyer, the process can be confusing and intimidating. I will share with you answers to some of the questions you may have about buying beef in bulk. With this knowledge, you will be able to confidently buy healthy bulk beef that will benefit you and your family and hopefully saves you some time and money.
What is buying bulk beef?
You may not even know what buying beef in bulk is and that is ok. I had no idea when I first became a farmer. I was used to going to the meat case and choosing some plastic packaged beef. Buying bulk meat will look different. It will typically be wrapped in freezer paper or in in the case of ground beef, be in white plastic packaging. The meat will be frozen.
You may be thinking, but I like fresh beef. When you buy bulk beef it goes from butcher block, packaging to the freezer. The “fresh” meat in the store may be older than you would like to think. It may have been repackaged. The point is you just don’t know. When buying directly from the farm, you know where it came from and that it was packaged fresh.
Typically, buying bulk beef involves finding a farmer who raises cattle and sells them to individuals or a group of individuals. There are some local and state regulations to consider.
There are mainly four ways to buy beef in bulk.
- A whole beef
- A half of beef
this can be done two ways
A. A half
B. A split side
- A quarter of beef
I will explain the different quantities in a future article.
Who do you buy beef from and where do you buy it?
These two questions are usually one in the same.
A local farmer who is willing to work with a local butcher to sell beef to individual customers. Again, please check your local and state regulations.
The first step is to find a local farmer. Some ways to do that is asking friends, internet search, farmers market. Once you find a farmer, there are some questions to ask.
A. Are the calves born on the farm?
B. Are the calves given antibiotic regimen or only give antibiotics when they are sick?
C. What are the calves fed? Grain, grass only?
D. Do you custom raise cattle?
When can you buy bulk beef?
Depending on the size of the farm you buy from, the meat may not be available year-round. With smaller farms, you would buy a one and a half-year-old steer in the fall. The meat you purchase would ideally last you a full year depending on how much you buy and the size of your family.
Why buy bulk beef?
Here are just a few of the many benefits to buying bulk beef.
- It is a wonderful way to have food security. There is food in the freezer and no last minute trips to the grocery store.
- Peace of mind of knowing where your meat comes from and how it was raised.
- Knowing that the cattle were young and healthy. The meat you buy in the store may have been an old, sick cow, you just never know.
- Control of packaging and quantities in each package. The meat cut to your specifications so you will use the meat.
- Save money with a quantity discount.
How to buy bulk beef?
Seven Steps to buying beef in bulk:
- Decide what kind of beef you are looking for, I.e. grass fed, corn finished, etc.
- Find a Farmer
- Decide how much meat you want
- Work with farmer and butcher
- Where will you store your beef? You will most likely need a deep freezer.
- How will you use your beef?
- Keep a file on your beef buying experience. This will be very helpful the next time you purchase bulk beef.
Some notes to include in the file would be:
- Was the farmer easy to work with?
- Was I satisfied with the butcher?
- Were the quantities in each package the right amount for my family?
- What cuts of meat did I enjoy most?
- Which cuts were difficult to use?
- How much beef did we use?
- Do I need to adjust the quantity?
In conclusion, I hope this brief overview of the ins and outs of buying beef in bulk. Please look for future articles about more details about buying beef and recipes to use the beef you purchased.
Have you ever bought beef in bulk? How was your buying experience?