For just the second time in a decade, we've purchased bulk beef from a local farm. I'll be honest, with the ongoing pandemic I'm glad we have freezers full of meat (and garden-preserved veggies) to help us avoid trips to the grocery store while we continue to spend most of our time at home over the winter.
This post is to help demystify the bulk meat purchasing process (see also my post about buying a whole hog).
We purchased our beef from the same farm that raised our pork and chickens. I contacted them in May and placed a deposit on a quarter of one of their Black Angus steers. They told me the next beef would be available in October. This farm offers mixed quarters, rather than designated front and rear quarters. This means that we're basically sharing half of the steer with someone else, allowing each of us to have some of the cuts from both the front and rear quarter (so we can get both brisket and sirloin).
On September 19 the farm called with news the steer would be butchered on September 24, and I provided my cutting instructions over the phone (approximate size of the roasts, thickness of steaks, number of steaks per package, size of ground beef packages, what goes into ground and stew meat, if we want any non-grocery cuts, etc.). Beef is best if it hangs (ages in a cooler) before being cut into smaller pieces, so we didn't receive our cuts until October 10.
And yesterday, we received 3 large cardboard boxes full of packaged meat, delivered right to our door (I love that about this farm). Buying meat this way makes me feel good about supporting our local economy. The steer grazed and lived a life on pasture 20 minutes from our house, and it was slaughtered and butchered by a full-service butcher 15 minutes from our house.
What We Got From Our Quarter Beef
The farmer delivered the boxes right into our garage, where we had a folding table, scale, Sharpie, and inventory sheet set up in front of our auxiliary freezer (a 3/4 size upright freezer). I like to weigh and inventory each cut of meat for record keeping. Not only does it allow me to write posts like this, but I can also keep track of what's in our freezer without digging around in it constantly.
The first box I opened was all ground beef. That's a lot of taco nights.
Here's the full inventory.
- 44 pounds of ground beef
- 7 packages of stew meat, 9 pounds total
- 1 package spare ribs, 1.5 pounds
- 7 rib-eye steaks, 10.5-14.5 ounces each
- 7 t-bone steaks, 18-25 ounces each
- 4 bone-in sirloin steaks, 24-38 ounces each (!)
- 3 top round steaks, 19-27 ounces each
- 1, 1-pound flank steak
- 2 arm roasts, 3-3.5 pounds each
- 2 briskets, 2.5 pounds each
- 6 chuck roasts, 2.5-4 pounds each
- 1, 3-pound rump roast
- 1, 4-pound sirloin tip roast
- Kidney (10 oz)
- Liver (3.5 lbs)
- Neck Bones (3 lbs)
- Soup Bones (4.75 lbs)
- Suet (5.5 lbs)