4 Tips on How to Afford Grass Fed Beef

a month of simple steps to make progress on your real food journey

The idea of buying grass fed beef, or even just a healthier option than the irradiated, feed-lot beef at your local grocery store can be intimidating. Isn’t that stuff really expensive? Well, yes, but even our family, during our tightest budgeted seasons have been able to afford grass fed beef or better quality meat with these 4 tips:

How to Afford Grass Fed Beef

1. Choose the cheapest cuts.

Bone-in is cheaper than Boneless. (And you can make nutritious beef broth with those bones!) Ground beef beats steak every time. Short ribs are delicious with this recipe, and are usually the cheapest item the butcher offers. Steak is not a ‘must’ for special occasions. There are plenty of company-worthy meal ideas made with ground beef:

  • Meatloaf
  • Salsbury steaks
  • Chili
  • Cheeseburger soup
  • Burgers
  • Enchiladas
  • Taco Bar

Cost to you: fewer steak dinners.

2. Buy the meat un-seasoned and un-formed.

Pre-made meatballs (if you can find them without junky additives and fillers) are going to be more expensive than buying ground beef and forming your own meatballs. Pre-formed burgers are more expensive, again, than just the ground beef. You save by shaping and seasoning the meat yourself. Cost to you: a few more minutes in the kitchen.

3. Buy in bulk.

Always choose the club pack over the smaller package. I know that much meat can be intimidating, but you WILL eat it all eventually, so go for the club pack of 5 Lbs., and divide it up into meal-sized portions yourself when you get home, freezing what you won’t eat this week. You’ll also save yourself additional trips to the store because you can grab meat for dinner out of the freezer. Cost to you: a few more minutes in the kitchen.

4. Buy the whole cow.

Or a half. Or even a quarter. What I mean is, go straight to the source–your nearest butcher and order a portion of meat straight from him. (Yes, local butchers still exist, but you won’t find them next to Target. You’re gonna have to make a few phone calls or do a little internet search) Many times the price of meat straight from the butcher is not much more than what you’re paying at the store. If even a quarter of a cow (30-50 Lbs.) is too much meat for you to buy or store at once, find a few friends to split it with you. Cost to you: A few phone calls and a trip to the butcher.

For me, the biggest challenge to feeding my family better meat has been sourcing it, and then changing my buying habits. But usually the sourcing is a one-time effort comprised of a little detective work, all from the comfort of my couch on my smart phone. Learning to make an extra stop each month at the butcher instead of getting all my groceries at the one-stop-shop supermarket is a new habit that nevertheless become routine. And then, suddenly, I’ve formed a real food habit and taken another successful step in my real food journey.

Learn more about the importance of making better meat choices for your family:

a month of simple steps to make progress on your real food journeyTomorrow we’re talking bone broth!

Do you know of a local butcher in your county? Even if it’s not certified organic or %100 grass fed, the local, fresh beef they’d be offering is better than what you’d get in the typical grocery store. Are you up for the challenge of finding them and ordering some beef in bulk? How about making your meatballs from scratch? That’s not a huge step, right? But each little step is progress on the journey!ย 

24 responses to “4 Tips on How to Afford Grass Fed Beef”

  1. Alisa Avatar

    Anyone else have probs keeping your meatballs round when your brown them? Tips welcome.

  2. Stacie Avatar

    And of course, another choice is venison. I have a freezer full of ground deer, cubed deer, and deer stew, etc. My parents have hunting land, and supply us with @3 deer each year. We take it to be processed into packaged cuts of meat, tenderized and ready to cook. It is possible to go all year without buying ground beef with this kind of blessing. It works for:
    Salsbury steaks
    Cheeseburger soup
    Tenderloin steaks for breakfast, cubed steaks and stew meat for dinner.
    It is lean and ideal, straight from nature to the table. Of course, it would depend on your area, availability, or laws regarding hunting wildlife, I suppose. Say…you might spend $150 or $200 a year for processing, leaving the need to buy chicken and fish only. I actually prefer the taste of venison now. And I am thankful that I don’t have to participate in the hunt or processing. ๐Ÿ˜‰ LOL

    1. Stephie N Avatar
      Stephie N

      My husband hunts elk, same deal here, although it is definitely a gamble at times! And you have have have to know good Hunters or know how to properly gut and drain them otherwise you get very gamey almost not worth eating meat! We’ve never paid a processor though, our friends taught us (and sometimes are still teaching us) how to butcher our own making the cost of the meat the cost of the license

      1. Stacie Avatar

        You’re right Stephanie,….you need to know good Hunters and/or have abundant game on the land. You can spend a lot of money on hunting and come up with nothing, too. Sounds like you have good friends!

        1. Stacie Avatar

          Stephie…..not Stephanie, right! Oops….. (forgot to slow down before posting)

          1. Stephie N Avatar
            Stephie N

            Either way it matches the name! Yeah that’s why I said it’s definitely a gamble, last year my husband went hunting with a vary amateur hunter and although he tried to teach him the ropes to some degree the guy cost him the hunt so we had to really rely in store bought meat last year, we were taking to this guy who raises buffalo and he’s selling them for 2000a head, for everything Hyde included, but I can’t fine anyone to go in on that much meat with me . . .

  3. Stephanie Kay Avatar

    This is when I’m sad that my family lives 1500 miles away. On a farm. Raising beef cattle. sigh.

    1. Trina Avatar

      Sighing with you. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Let’s go on a road trip and get us some steak! ๐Ÿ˜€

  4. Jess White Avatar

    Sourcing is definitely the important thing. Some people think they’re buying something great, because it’s from the farm, but sometimes that cow isn’t getting much grass, but more hay and corn.

    We’re blessed to have a friend of my parents raising near organic grass fed cows; such a blessing. We usually buy a cow and split it. {Good thing, since half our chickens were killed during the last big heat wave/thunderstorm}.

    1. Trina Avatar

      You make a good point, Jessica.
      Um, I’m sorry about your chickens! Been there, buried that… ;(

  5. Stephie N Avatar
    Stephie N

    Just to let you know both of your ground beef links less to the food irridation article

    1. Trina Avatar

      thank you, dear, I’ll get on that! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. Natasha Metzler Avatar

    If you’ve found a raw milk source, chances are you’ve found a beef source! ๐Ÿ™‚ Dairy farmers often have “down cows” (ones with banged up knees or other issues that don’t affect the meat) that are sent to the butchers and are more than willing to sell a portion of them.

    And if you buy direct from the farmer? You’ll usually get to pick your cuts and they will be at an incredible discount. Ground beef is cheap, but it can cost very little to add in a few fancy cuts to your order. Check the prices and you may be surprised.

    And don’t forget the “extras” from the cow… you can get liver, heart and other things for little-to-nothing. And the wonderful people at our butcher shop are more than willing to run my tallow through a grinder, making it easier for me to render. I think they charge me $5 for that service, well worth it!

    1. Trina Avatar

      Natasha, you make an excellent point, and one I had forgotten from our days of actually BEING the farmer! You’re right–when you order a whole cow, you can get steaks and other cuts a lot cheaper. I can’t wait till I’m at a place to buy a whole chunk of cow. Right now I’m just getting ground beef in smaller lots from a local butcher.

  7. Stacey Avatar

    We buy straight from the farm and stick to ground beef. I’m hoping someday we can buy 1/4, but for now, my freezer is full enough. We also buy our free range chickens from the same farm.

    1. Trina Avatar

      OH, beef and poultry in the same stop–now that’s convenience! ๐Ÿ˜‰

      1. Stacey Avatar

        They have what they call “pampered pork” as well, but we don’t really eat pork.

  8. Claire @ Lemon Jelly Cake Avatar

    I’ve loved the few times we’ve bought a large portion of a cow. I think we split half a cow with my brother-in-law’s girlfriend’s mother, haha. I like the convenience of having so much beef on hand. It’s one less than to worry about buying every few weeks. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Trina Avatar

      Yup, one of my favorite things…shopping my freezer!

  9. Joan Avatar

    Great post! Every step helps. I believe the most satisfying way to buy grass-fed beef (and other real foods) is to go all the way to your local farmer and build that relationship!

    1. Gretchen Louise Avatar

      Yes, going straight to your local farmer is going to be the most budget-friendly route! Check localharvest.org or ask around at your local farmers market to find grass-fed beef in your area.

      (And hi, Joan. I do believe I know you. ;))

      1. Trina Avatar

        Thanks for this reminder, Gretchen! I kinda forgot that point about going straight to your farmer! Thanks for that link.

      2. Joan Avatar

        Yes, Gretchen, you do know me! And I’m really enjoying getting to know your friend Trina. See you soon!

    2. Trina Avatar

      You are so right, Joan! And I so appreciate you pointing this out…I was a farmer’s daughter myself and somehow forgot to mention the fun of selling (or buying) direct from the farm!

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