abstractjello (abstractjello) wrote in self_sustain,

Low-cost meat

Meat can be an expensive part of our diets, and there are those of us (myself included) that will not turn vegan...There is just something about a good steak.  With New York Strips costing around $7/lb, this isn't a very cost-effective endulgence.  Not all of us have the option of raising our own cows, due to property size, but there are a few options we do have to cut the cost of those summer BBQs...

1. Miniature cattle.  When I first learned of these creatures, I was elated.  They grow to about 3 1/2' tall, and typically yield a greater live weight/finished product ratio than typical cows.  The downside is that these suckers can run anywhere from $1,000 to $2,500 each, so it wouldn't be cost effective unless you were wanting to raise your own miniature cattle. 

2. Many small farmers sell their cattle at a local livestock auction.  The prices here fluctuate, but a full-grown moo-moo will generally run around $1,000, depending on the weight.  Butcher the cow yourself, and you have inexpensive beef.  The downside?  Freezer storage.

3.  Contact your local meat locker/butcher.  My local meat locker also acts as a go-between for sellers and buyers.  You may also have the option to buy a quarter or half of a cow, instead of buying the whole cow.  They will also typically have a list of other people who want to purchase a half or quarter, so even if they don't have someone selling, you and the other person(s) can go in on purchasing a cow from the livestock auction.  Butchers are also a good source to get a reference for someone to slaughter the animal if you are not comfortable doing it yourself. 

The last time we made a "bulk beef" purchase, we contacted the butcher and got a quarter.  It came out to about $2.39/lb of finished product (we had the butcher cut the steaks and grind the hamburger, adding to cost).  This isn't a wonderful deal for hamburger, but if you consider the cost of a T-bone, there is definately a cost savings...and it is definately the best beef I have ever had.  The hamburger was lean, and the steaks were melt-in-your-mouth juicy.  Since these cows are raised by smaller farmers, they aren't typically fed a lot of growth hormones, and are usually free-range...not like the stuff you buy in the store where the cow came from a concrete confinement area.  I definately will never go back to the store-bought stuff again.

Even if you are not wanting to purchase that large of a quantity of beef, local meat lockers typically sell fresh meat the same way that most stores do, and sometimes have package deals.  Our local locker price compares the local stores to make sure that they have the best deals in town. 
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