Save money on food with a quarter-cow?
Hey yall! First time poster here. Woo Hoo!
I read somewhere recently about saving money by buying a quarter-cow all at once and putting it in the freezer. This seems like a good idea to me. However, there are a few questions:
First, I need a freezer. How big does it need to be? Will a regular stand-up freezer be big enough for a quarter-cow?
Second, how much beef is in a quarter-cow? 100 lbs? 200 lbs?
I read the cost is about $1.25 per pound. Is that still true?
Finally, where can I get one in the Raleigh, NC area? Recommendations anyone?
What else do I need to know?
It's been a while, but I used to buy front quarters every year or so. Front qtr contains more roasts and that's why I got it instead of the steak-heavy hind qtr. I think we got around 140 - 160 lbs out of a front qtr. $1.25 sounds pretty cheap. I recall paying in the $1.49 range per pound in California in the 80's, Standard upright or chest freezer in the 10-14 cf range is plenty big. Check butcher shops in your area or if you have a grocery store with a good meat section they can hook you up.
I buy half a cow a year so here are some tips:
1) Freezer - I have a 17cubuc ft upright and it just holds 1/2 a cow
2) Weight - You pay on hang weight. This varies. I have bought a half a cow at anywhere from 200 to 350 lbs. You typically pay butcher fees on top of the hang weight cost.
3) Cost - varies per farmer. I buy an organic grass fed cow that is never put on a truck. They are slaughtered when they are relaxed. There are studies that this actually makes the meat more tender and I think is more humane (if I can say that at this point).
4) Cooking - If you buy a grass fed be aware there is less fat in these and you have to cook at a lower and longer temperature. If you try to hi-heat sear... you will produce a brick. Grass fed is different and more flavorful but it takes some time to get used to cooking it.
My wife and I order beef about once a year. We find it VERY economical and totally delicious. Since we found this grower, we've used his beef almost exclusively.
In fact, we just took delivery of our "half of a half" a couple of weeks ago. Hanging, that weighed 250 pounds.
We paid $1.49, hanging weight, for the product and about $125 for the processing. All in, we figure the processed per-pound cost is between $4 and $5 per pound average. That's based on the hanging weight of 250 pounds and an expected loss of 50% in processing (fat and bone)
We like the "half of a half" in that we get some cuts from the front and some from the back.
We're able to fit 100% of the product in a half-size upright freezer (though we're thinking of an upright to avoid all the digging)
I recommend this method HIGHLY if you can find the right combination of farmer and processor. We're lucky, here in Wisconsin, to have an abundance of both.