(Note: I just posted "Real Food Is Affordable!" An Article offering budget-friendly tools for your Real Food Toolbox. But not all of my initial ideas made the cut. There's just so much meat on the bones of this important topic 😀 So for this week's edition of Food For Thought Friday, here is a tidbit about bulk buying meat that I deleted from the Article because of space and "flow" issues. Since this excerpt didn't make it through the final editing process, it's still rather unvarnished. Nevertheless, the grist is there to be a useful resource.)
Buying in bulk is a great way to eat more Real Food on a budget. Buying in larger quantities typically reduces the price per unit. And the food will be readily accessible -- so you can shop at home first :-)
I've been bulk buying meat from Pike Valley Farm in Lancaster, KY for years. The farm offers whole, half and quarter portions of beef and pork. The farm also offers bulk packages of poultry. All 100% grass-fed & finished, pasture-raised. The animals are rotated through different pastures in a natural setting. Foraging on the pasture and eating a native diet.
When I pick up the meat, it is separated in various cuts and flash frozen for easy use and long storage. So every few days, I walk a few steps to "shop" in my own personal freezer section. And decide what cuts and type of meat (beef, pork, or chicken) I want to prepare. Then place the packets in the refrigerator to defrost. Makes meal planning so much easier.
For the two of us, a whole cow lasted about 20 months. And a whole hog about 10. The chicken varied depending on the packages that I bought. I staggered these bulk purchases according to our available freezer space. The upfront costs can be somewhat eye-popping. But I know that we saved money by distributing the costs over this long period.
Of course, you will need ample freezer space. Which is more than typically available with a standard refrigerator/freezer appliance. A dedicated chest or upright freezer is best. Used freezers are reasonably affordable. But whether you buy new or used, you will recoup the costs within a few bulk purchases.
If the cost of a freezer or even the bulk packages are not within your budget, try to find a Real Food buddy or maybe a group of friends who are interested in cost-sharing. You'll still benefit from the lower price per unit. But will distribute the upfront cost among your friends. And you won't need as much freezer space since you'll divvy up the meat among the group.
If buying from a local farm, you may be able to work out a payment plan or even temporary storage in the farm's freezer while you clear space. This is why you should always try to cultivate good relationships with local farmers! The trust can definitely pay off -- in more ways than one.
To find a farm in your area that follows these sustainable farming practices, visit the Eat Wild website.
(Postscript: Are you interested in bulk buying meat? If so, hope this FFTF helps. And if you are already bulk buying and have some additional ideas to add to this conversation, then please Post Comments to share your experiences. And as always - Stay Engaged and Keep Eating Real!)