photo by Ken Bosma

photo by Ken Bosma

Grass-fed beef may be more expensive than a supermarket meat special, but it doesn’t have to give you sticker shock. Whether you’ve decided to buy grass-fed, pasture-raised beef for environmental, health, or ethical reasons, there are ways to make it more affordable for your family.

  • Craigslist.org
    It doesn’t get any more local than craigslist. Try searching for grass-fed or pasture-raised beef. Local farmers use craigslist to get in touch with consumers, and you can ask all the questions you want. You will need to invest in a deep freezer for most quantities, but buying beef by the side, half, or quarter is a budget-friendly way to purchase a variety of beef. You can also get it custom packaged to what you use. For example, one family uses ground beef in 1 ½ lb. quantities, so they have the processor package it accordingly.
  • Meat CSA
    Community supported agriculture is usually associated with fruits and vegetables, but meat CSAs, also called buying clubs, are becoming more common.
    In a CSA, you get a variety of cuts of what the farmer has available. Some meat buying clubs allow you to choose the cuts ahead of time. Farmers often pass on a discount in exchange for your commitment to purchase meat from them for a certain amount of time. Either way, it’s a good way to get a mix of expensive and inexpensive cuts of meat for a lower price.
    Check eatwild.com for CSAs and buying clubs in your area, or even a simple google search to locate a farm near you.
  • Package pricing
    Many farmers offer package pricing, where you average the cost per pound across the expensive and inexpensive cuts. For example, one farm near me offers packages of 22 lbs. or 54 lbs., including roasts, steaks and ground beef. This is a great way to get to know a farmer and discover what kind and how much meat your family will use. If you don’t see package pricing, you can always ask the farmer to put one together for you, and they may offer you a discount over buying individual cuts.

My family is currently buying meat by the package. I asked an area farm that offered a meat CSA if they would put together packages of whatever the CSA families were getting. We’ve enjoyed a large variety of cuts, and we plan on joining.

What tricks have you found to purchase grass-fed beef for your budget?