Eating Beef on a Shoe String Budget

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Eating Beef on a Budget

eating beefIf you’re looking to save money, you’ve undoubtedly noticed that meat is the one area where it’s hard to find a coupon and save money. Besides learning to use overage on coupons to help you reduce the cost of meat, you can get closer to the source to save money!

Because we’re trying to cut our budget everywhere we can, we decided that in order to get the most meat for our money, we’d look into purchasing beef in bulk from a local meat locker. To be honest, I was surprised at what the investment was going to cost. However, after talking to the clerk and having them break the numbers down for me, I was beginning to wrap my head around the concept. That was 4 years ago and we haven’t looked back. We’re now eating beef on the cheap.

The Advantages of Buying Meat from a Locker

Ordering meat in bulk has its advantages. When we placed our order, we were able to choose our cuts of meat based on the number of people in our family. Typically, we get roasts, which are packaged in 3-4lb packages, steaks cut 3/4 inch thick and 2 per package and 85/15 ground beef packaged in 1.5lb tubes. Makes eating beef much more palatable.

When you buy a cow and have it custom cut and packaged, you have the benefit of choosing your cuts. If your family is big into steak, but doesn’t care for roasts, you can have more of what you are going to eat. And if you’re a family looking for more ground beef, you can choose to have any cut ground for the same price, making ground beef, ground chuck, and even ground round the same price.

A Word on Curing

I prefer dry aged beef over wet aged any day. The dry aged process can take anywhere between 15-28 days. Basically what happens is the carcass is hung in a cooler to allow the moisture to to evaporate from the muscle. When this happens the flavor in the beef is concentrated. Second, the beef’s natural enzymes break down the connective tissue in the muscle, which leads to more tender beef.

This process does ad to the cost, but is worth every penny. This is also the process that many of the top notch steak houses prepare their beef. Almost all grocery store chains opt for the wet aged method of aging. This process can be accomplished in 5-7 days by vacuum sealing the beef  in juices. Typically from the time the meat leaves the meat processor to your grocery stores shelf. Enough time has passed to this process to do it’s thing.

Eating Beef with Healthier Meat

When you purchase your meat from the grocery store, the sad truth is that many times, the animals are in less than healthy environments. They go through mass processing, and the meat is often not as nutrient rich as animals raised in smaller stockyards and individually processed. When you purchase a cow, or even a portion of a cow, you have certainty that all of the meat is from the same, healthy animal.

Save Even More Money

If you have a smaller family, you may not have the need or the room to store the meat from a full cow.  If this is the case, you may want to talk to friends and family to see if you can get a group together to make the purchase. As with many things, the unit cost goes down with larger quantities, meaning that if you can get four people together and each person contributes 1/4 of the cost of the purchase, you’ll be lowering your price per pound and you’ll all be eating beef on the cheap!


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