If your family eats a lot of beef and you would like to save money in the long run, you may want to consider purchasing a side of beef, which is half of a cow. There are several advantages to buying meat in bulk, like eating locally raised beef and knowing the farmer and his slaughtering practices. But the cost may be the most appealing aspect for large families or for smaller families who want to split a side or a whole cow.
What You Get
When you order a "side of beef," you are essentially ordering half a cow (the edible, "dressed" parts). The weight of cows varies, but you'll typically receive about 200 pounds of meat from a side of beef. The meat will come in different forms and cuts, usually a variety of the following: steaks, roasts, ground, hamburger patties, broils, soup bones, ribs and steak sandwich meat. Ask your farmer for specifics about what you can expect in your side of beef.
What You Save
What you pay for a side of beef will vary by region of the country and farm. In an article on Get Rich Slowly, J.D. Roth shares his experience. Between the cost of the meat, the cutting and wrapping fee, and the kill fee, he and his family paid about $300 for 83 pounds of meat, which works out to $3.61 per pound (they split the cow with other families). At the grocery store, beef prices vary based on the cut, but overall, says Roth, you save money, especially if you factor in the price for locally raised, grass-fed beef (which many farmers can give you for a fraction of the cost).
Besides cost, you can save time by purchasing your beef this way. Farmers cut and wrap the meat for freezing, which is convenient for the buyer. When you buy large packages of beef at the store, you have to cut and wrap it in smaller portions on your own. Also, you won't have to make as many trips to the grocery store, and you'll be supporting the local farmer instead of large distributors and stores.
How To Buy
First, ask other families you know if they have done this and whether they can refer you to a farm. Call local farmers and search online. It's a good idea to get a recommendation from someone you trust before you spend hundreds of dollars on meat. If you cannot afford that much money at one time, consider going in with another family (or two) to share the cost. If your family is small, this will also help you eat the meat before it goes bad. And, you won't get sick of beef!
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