Buying Meat in Bulk: Tips and Tricks

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Buying Meat in Bulk

Meat is one thing that can be hard to save money on. Unless you don’t eat meat or are already at the stage of producing all your own meat, just getting following regular sales at the grocery store isn’t going to  cut costs on meat much from your budget. My family has always purchased meat in bulk as a way to save on our grocery budget and me and the hubby have always tried to purchase meat in bulk since the start of our marriage.

The great thing is that there are ways to save on all kinds of meat in bulk, not just beef! Since my mom has been buying meat in bulk for longer than I have, I asked for her tips to share in this article as well. Here are our best tips for saving money by buying meat in bulk!

Buying Meat in Bulk

Saving Money on Pork

You can buy a large, long pork loin at Sams Club or Costco. It is approximately 24 or more inches long, these can usually be bought for around $2 a pound. They are good to cut in 6-8 inch portion sizes to make roast. You should be able to get get 3-4 of these nice size roasts out of a section. They can be easily made up in the crock pot for shredded pork sandwiches.

You can also buy a side of pork or whole pork from the local butcher shop. If you know your butcher shop has good quality or knows the source of its hogs, this would be desirable. The advantage of buying pork from the butcher shop, is that you can get a variety of cuts and there are no extra additives in the meat.

Cut side pork is wonderful for “bacon” slabs, without any of the preservatives. Ground pork is wonderful to add your own spices to and make into homemade sausage.

If you buy your pork from a butcher shop or from a rancher and have it processed, the size can vary but keep in mind when you are planning…half a pork is around 100 pounds, a whole pig may be around 200 pounds. The butcher shop should be able to tell you how many pounds you can a lot for different cuts.

Buying Meat in Bulk

Saving Money On Beef

Our family raises our own cattle. We know exactly what the cow has had for diet and the grasses it has eaten. We also know that no hormones have been injected into the beef. If you also plan on raising your own beef, make sure when you take your own beef to be processed that you ask them for everything back. We always ask for the soup bones as well. This has always provided a numerous amount of packages, usually at least 2 bones each, with a lot of meat that adds flavor and substance to stews and soups. You can also use them to make your own Beef Bone Broth. Or use them to feed to dogs.

Make sure that you have your roasts cut into manageable sizes. We like to have ours cut into 3 – 4 pounds each. If I need extra for feeding a crowd, 2 of them will fit in my larger crockpot. If you are not feeding a crowd, the 3 – 4 pound size keeps it manageable to have for one to two meals, sometimes more, without feeling like you are having roast every night. I like to have the ground beef in different sizes. We usually get 1 pound packages and also 2 pound packages. The one pounders are great for taco night, pizzas, sloppy joes, spaghetti, hamburger soups, or casseroles. The 2 pound package is good for making hamburgers, meatloafs, homemade beef sausage, or make ahead meatballs. It is nice to have a variety. You can also get 1 1/2 pound packages, if you prefer, also, depending on how much your family eats in one meal.

It always seems like we have an abundance of stew meat packages when we get our beef back. These are great for making stew, itself, but with an abundance, we have found a good use for them, also. They are good to cut in smaller pieces and marinate. We then place them on the grill and eat them as “tips”. They aren’t the most tender cut, but with the smaller size and marinating, they turn out just as wonderful.

If you are a canner, ask your butcher about meat for canning. Our butcher is also a canner, so they knew exactly the amount of meat that is needed to make a full (7 quart) canner full of meat. They cut the chunks in bite size pieces for us (much like stew meat chunks) and all we had to do was tightly pack the quart jars and run it through the pressure canner. It makes a very quick meal, turning it into a tender, fall apart meat, with gravy. These are great to use for quick french dip sandwiches.

A full average size cow (hang weight) is around 800 pounds. Half a cow would be around 400 pounds, and a quarter around 200 pounds. (Of course it can vary, when our family butchers a cow it’s usually around 1200 pounds!) Like with pork, your butcher should be able to tell you about how many pounds you can allot for the different cuts. We usually do not get very much steak back, instead preferring to get more hamburger and roasts.

Buying Meat in Bulk

Saving Money on Chicken

Bulk chicken we get from a few different places. For whole chickens we like to buy from the the local Hutterite Colony. We pay $6.25 per whole chicken right now. Whole chicken is generally the cheapest “cut” you can buy and it’s very useful since when you cook the entire carcass you can make healthy bone broth and you still have plenty of chicken for meals! Ask around your area to find farmers that are selling chickens. When you find one, make sure to ask them how the chickens are raised (actual free range, cage free, or cages) and what they are fed. If the farmer is close by you could also ask to visit the farm and see how the birds are raised.

Buying Meat in Bulk Tips

Some things to remember….

  • Find out how the meat was raised first. Grass fed, free range, no hormones or antibiotics is best.
  • Do not buy “corn finished” or “grain finished” meat. This means the rancher fed the animal with a grain to fatten it up before butchering. Grain is not natural for cattle and the meat will be greasy.
  • Ask for opinions and reviews on a butcher before you take your animal in or before you buy meat from them. All butchers are different and have different practices.
  • When you butcher your own, you will have to pay per pound on the hang weight, not the weight you get back.

What are some of your tips for buying meat in bulk? Where do you get your meat from?


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  1. I cut those long boneless pork loins into boneless chops, too. Be careful not to overcook them though or they can be very dry. I use my Lodge grill pan for very lean meat and it comes out great.

    Grass fed beef in our area is crazy expensive, like $6 plus a pound, so I settle for organic from a small, local grocery chain. I watch for marked down packages and can do pretty well that way. They are also my best source for organic chicken for great prices. I am sure they are not organic but don’t forget about those $4.88 rotisserie chickens at Sam’s. My store has very large ones and that one chicken will feed us for 4 days plus making broth from the carcass.

    We have a large Asian market that carries good quality pork. It is all frozen and you have to look through the case for what Americans will actually eat but it can be worth it for the prices they have. I have wondered about some of the other ethnic markets in town but I have to get up the courage to go in them. My daughter who was a missionary to China likes to go to the Asian market so she introduced me to that one.

    Since we are empty nesters I have to be careful not to keep too much meat on hand because we don’t eat it fast enough to keep it from being freezer burnt.

    1. I do this with the pork loins as well. I have found the best way to keep them from getting dry is to brine them first. Do a quick sear on the outside before putting in the oven, and your meat stays moist and juicy!

    2. We actually butcher with friends and make a day of it or two. To butcher beef, pig, and would like to start chicken. We also do deer.
      When I do have to buy pork loin from the store because we have run out I will grind it up into sausage and or cut into pork chops.
      I too watch for mark downs for the organic meat at the store and for lamb.
      We like gyros with the lamb.
      There is a dent store a few towns over and when I can I go there. They do sometimes get organic meat in. I just got organic carrots for 50 cents for 2 pounds of carrots. Hope to can this week potatoes and carrots to go with our deer stew meat .
      We are a family of 11 so am always on the look out for deals.

  2. I can find “organic” beef and chicken around here but I’m having difficulty finding affordable free-range chicken, pastured pork and grass-fed beef. Is organic beef or chicken any better than conventional?

    1. I don’t always look for organic…the most important thing is that they aren’t fed any artificial hormones and antibiotics and try to find grass fed if possible. There is a taste difference and generally this type of meat is much leaner.

  3. I wish we had a Hutterite Colony in the area. My parents used to get chickens from them (in SD) and they were wonderful!

  4. Since we just sent our taxes in, one of or main goals is to buy a deep freezer and stock up on meat, we have been looking around where we live trying to find as much good meat as we can. 1/2 a cow here that is grain feed is easy to find….1/2 a cow that is 100% natural (organic is just not in our budget) and grass feed and hormone/ anti-biotic free is a little harder and way more expensive, but I was so excited about this blog post. Would love to know more about the pork, because we are not sure what to ask for when we get it. Our plan is 1/2 a cow, 1/2 a pig and some 100% natural whole chickens from our natural food store. We have no idea how long this will get us, since we have never done it before, but we do meal plan and the 1/8 of a cow we got a few years ago lasted a long time.
    Thanks again, very timely for us.

    1. Heather, we have been buying a 1/2 side of beef and pork this way for about 4 1/2 years now. the beef usually lasts us about 18 months and the pork about 6 months ( there is just myself and my husband). The chickens usually vary on time. As a far as pork goes, we usually will ask the butcher how he/they normally do it; you can get roasts, steaks, chops, ham slices, whole ham, bacon, sausage and ribs. If you use lard, don’t forget to ask for the fat to render your own. I hope this helps.

  5. we have found a wonderful local butcher with locally sourced meats, and we visit about every three months or so and purchase various ‘packages’ from them. They have a make your own bundle so you can pick and choose what cuts you want, and offer various other bundles to choose from. We do drive about 30 minutes, but it is well worth it. The butcher in town has poor quality meat in our experience, and the next closest I have heard no so good things about (ie, if you take a deer for processing, you are not guaranteed you are getting YOUR deer back).

  6. We raise our own grass-fed, all-natural Angus beef and have it cut up at a local butcher shop… we generally raise 2 – 3 for the 7 of us on the ranch, and usually a couple more to sell to the public. We buy pork from a friend from church, a whole hog that we take to the same shop. Our chicken comes from Zaycon Foods and local Hutterite colonies. We love buying in bulk and having the flexibility to be able to have exactly the cuts of meat we want, for different occasions. We had the “problem” of having one too many steers to butcher this fall and decided to get some “fun food” out of him… beef jerky, summer sausage, beef tenderloin, and prime rib roasts. Wonderful! 🙂

  7. We have recently retired and started our homestead. Can’t wait to raise our own food again. Good ideas. Thank you

  8. I also buy the Pork Lions from Costco about 3-4 times a year. We cut up
    chops and a roast or two. When Hamburger is on sale,cheap,I buy 20-50 lbs
    and divide it up into pounds in baggies. We’ve bought 1/2 pigs and cows,but
    are’nt always happy with the meat (Sometimes tough or weird tasting’),so
    have decided not to spend that much again and get stuck with a lot of a bad
    product. Best to raise your own,then you can only blame yourself. Those days
    are over for me,too old to haul feed and who wants to go out to feed in weather like we’re having this winter’

  9. Zaycon claims to be natural but they are NOT non-GMO. Here is a quote from Zaycon taken from their FB page..
    Zaycon Foods
    Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are allowed in corn and soy production within our country. So it is possible the chickens have feed that contained GMOs. The use of added hormones in chicken is prohibited by the USDA. The only hormones found in our chickens are those that occur naturally.
    (link here)

  10. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and experiences, it TRUELY is a huge help for someone who is trying to find meat/food that’s not tainted!!!

  11. Just picked up my Zaycon chicken yesterday and repack for freezing. Last December we ordered the Applewood Smoked Ham from Zaycon and it is delicious! We cut it up into meal size chunks and froze it too. Still have three pieces. Also cut one piece into a small dice that we are using in scrambled eggs and omelets. Best tasting smoked ham I have ever had. Looking forward to bacon next month 🙂

  12. The beef tips idea is great. I always just made stew after stew. And we like stew, but variety is so important!

  13. I purchase the long boneless pork loins when they are on sale and have the store cut them into chops for me. I usually get at least 6 or 8 packages of chops out of one depending on how many I package together.

  14. A great reason why I love my Food Saver. Keeps meat for ages (started to say forever…) –

    I also buy Grass-fed Cow & Goat Cheeses that I reseal in Food Saver bags as extra protection in the freezer since I buy large amounts at a time.

    So I pay more one month and don’t need to buy anymore for several months. – In the long run, $$$ is saved – plus time is saved.

  15. When getting a whole or half pig…..I always ask for the pork hocks and neck bones and ask to have them smoked along with my hams and bacon. They are wonderful in bean and split pea soup! Add so much flavor to the broth! I also use the smoked neck bones when canning my own dried beans….one next bone fits nicely into a small mouth jar and adds so much flavor to those as well.

  16. I like your suggestion to cut the roast into 3-4 pounds each. My family has a big event coming up welcoming my brother back to the country after several years away, and we would like to buy some grass-fed beef in bulk for the occasion. We’ll have to look into doing some 2-pound packages for hamburgers.

  17. Today our local grocery had boneless chicken breasts for $1.00 a pound! Each pack had four large breasts and you were allowed 2 packs. Same with pork chops. I will break those down to two each and hubby and I will get about 8 meals!

  18. Wow, interesting info re: a topic I know so little about. I had no idea you got that much meat from butchering a cow. Thanks for sharing it at Sweet Inspiration!

  19. I bought a meat slicer a few years ago for $40 off Craigslist. I use it when I have a roast like round steak. I can slice the meat thin for some sandwiches and thicker for meal portions. I also use a food saver machine for longer term storage. Coming in to hurricane season, I tend to use up my freezer stock in case we lose power. We do also have a small generator that we can use to run the well pump and keep the fridge going. But if the generator died or we couldn’t get gas for it, I won’t lose as much. I save my distilled water gallon jugs from my bipap machine and fill them. Fill up the freezer with them so we have water as well for cooking and drinking. Recently retired and income has dropped significantly so I appreciate this timely article.