Have you ever tried to shop for a good steak lately? You either find meat that is super tough and no flavor or the prices are so high that you cant afford them. After years of getting annoyed with the high prices, I thought there has got to be a way to save money and get the quality I want to eat.
Hello Local Farmer
The goal was to save money by supporting a local farmer but I did not even know where to start. I checked local farmers markets but the meat prices were extremely high and that turned me off. I did some research and found that by buying by the half or quarter of a pig or cow, you can get really great prices. However, I did not know where to find those willing to sell like that. Here is one website that is good for research.
One day my wife came home and said a guy she works with was advertising on Facebook for half and whole pigs. Because of that one post, we have since bought most of our meat this way from local farmers and saving money.
My wife and I decided to buy a half pig from the advertisement. It turned out that it was the guy’s brother and they delivered to the local butcher than when it was ready, he would deliver or the customer could pick it up. I still no real idea what to expect but I jumped on it. Cost was $2.58 a pound hanging weight plus processing. What the heck did that mean?
Hanging Weight vs. Take Home Weight
This was the first experience buying meat this way so I was a little baffled. I again did some research on the Internet. Hanging weight is the caucus of the animal after the slaughter and skin removed. You pay the per pound price on that weight. Once the meat is processed, you lose anywhere from 30-40 percent of the weight from bones, fat and other parts not edible. This depends on factors such as how much fat remains, boneless or bone in, and any organ meat or bones you want.
Processing of the Meat
The next fee was for processing. This is what the butcher charges. The first one cost us are $78 for the cuts we wanted for half of a pig. Processing fee included vacuum sealed and ready for the freezer. Fees will vary based on how much smoked and curing you want and specialty products like brats, ring sausages, and other types, What cuts do you want?
Picking What Cuts You Want
Picking what I wanted was the hardest part of the whole process. We had no idea what we wanted, what was offered, and how much of each we would get. My suggestion is ask a lot of questions. For example, most places of jerked meat, brats of various flavors, and cured and uncured bacon. One of my favorites is hot sausage.
For beef, there are so many ways and different cuts that your head spins. Depending on the butcher for information can sometimes be a bit tricky. Some are more personable than others. Some sound grumpy on the phone but are just old country farmers who can chat your ear off in person but have no phone skills.
A great suggestion is for you to look up various meat charts on the Internet to get an idea what you want before you buy. This will give you a leg up when they call from the butcher shop to take your order. Some shops offer a cut sheet but some do not. Unfortunately, I did not do my research the first time and I stumbled through. So bottom line is, did I save and money?
Per Pound Cost
I bought the first half pig in the spring of 2017, since then, I have bought two more half pigs and a half cow and a quarter cow.
- First half of pig cost around $3.59 a pound finished weight. This included hams, pork chops, bacon, smoked sausage, hot sausage, and some roasts.
- The second half was a little higher at around $3.89 a pound and I also had most of my pork chops and steaks jerked in this bash. This was the same farmer but the price increased a bit.
- Third half pig, I used a different butcher. He not only does the processing but he also raises and sells the pigs. The cost for his was $2.68 a pound hanging weight but that was fully processed. His came out to around $3.29 a pound for take home weight.
- First cow I ordered a quarter but due to a mistake, I ended up taking a half. It was $2.25 per pound hanging weight and came to around $3.50 a pound fully processed. This included Delmonico, porter house, new strip, t-bone, and sirloin steaks. We also got some roasts, stew meats and short ribs.
- The second one we got was a quarter costing the same per pound price.
Quality of Meat
Honestly, I have never tasted any better meat in my life. I wanted to test a sirloin to see if you could cut it with a butter knife. Come on, you always hear that it was so tender you could cut it with a butter knife. Well guess what, it was! That butter knife cut right through it. My ninety year old mother, who wears dentures, hates eating steak. She loved it and eats it all the time now. I have not tried my second purchase because over a year and I am still eating off the first cow.
One warning for those who always buy from the grocery store, fresh beef does not have the red color you see in the stores. That is processed with some dye to attract the eye. Real beef should have a little browner look to it.
As for the pork, it melts in your mouth. Bacon is one of my favorite things and this is some of the best bacon I have ever had. The hams were better from the first butcher but the hot sausage was better from the second butcher. Both was great. While I am writing this, I eating some of the hot sausage. YUM!
Going to the grocery store, I always compare to see if I saved or not. People can sometimes find pork for cheaper in certain cuts. However, the flavor leaves a lot to be desired. Steaks are no comparison. The Delmonico steaks if you are lucky to find on sale run at least $7.99 a pound but can run as high as $12.99 a pound. That is if you can find one that is good enough to eat which is what started me on this quest to begin with.
Just to be warned, the upfront cost can overwhelm some people. My first half cow cost $660 at one time. This could be a deterrent for some people but you save money by supporting a local farmer.
Savings Beyond Money
There is additional saving like the shear convenience of having these meats readily available everyday for dinner. Having quality meats inspires us to eat at home more. Time is money so saving the time from searching store to store when I want a good steak to pork chop. I am hooked for life! Tears would flow if I had to go back to eating store bought beef and pork. My wish is that I could find chicken for cheaper by the bulk but I have found no luck so far.
If you have any additional information you want to add or any questions or comment, please comment below, I try to answer everyone as quick as I can.
Peace out and thanks for reading!