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Cost of Bones

Just curious what other people are paying per pound for various bones:

Veal
Chicken
Pork
Duck
Lamb

I've only ever seen them for $2+ per pound (I only know of one place to get them) and it seems expensive. But then again, at $2/lb., to make 3 quarts to a gallon of stock costs $20, which is cheaper than actually buying the stock my butcher makes (usually about $11/quart), and lets me have control over the process.

What do you pay and what do you think is a reasonable cost for bones?

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  1. I buy whole chickens for $0.89/lb and use the bones when I'm done with the meat. Since I'd be buying the chicken anyway (and the whole chicken is quite a bit cheaper than either the boneless or the bone-in chicken in pieces) I consider the stock I make to be a freebie.

    I've never made veal, pork, duck or lamb stock, but I imagine I'd go about the process in a similar way -- buying bone-in meat and either saving the cooked bones or cutting the raw meat off the bones and using both separately.

    3 Replies
    1. re: BananaBirkLarsen

      I have done that with chicken before which is awesome. I don't buy a whole lot of veal though. Which reminds me, I was thinking about the sustainability of veal because we use a lot more bones that we eat actual meat, that may have to be another post sometime.

      1. re: BananaBirkLarsen

        I do the same with chicken - I frequently buy breasts for $.99/# and sometimes I can get leg quarters for $.49/lb. I usually buy about 10 pounds at a time, spend half an hour trimming and boning them, then stash them in the freezer until I get around to making stock.

        Beef bones, I get at our public market - there's a butcher there who sells bags of "dog bones" - the regular ones are $2/bag - about 4-5 pounds, and the big, heavy-duty bones (the ones my guy DOESN'T chew into shards) are $4, and the last bag I bought weighed 6#. The great thing about this guy is that he doesn't meticulously trim the bones - they're nice and meaty.

        Last time I made beef stock, I used a $2 bag of bones, plus a couple of hunks of beef shank that I got at another butcher (about $3.50 total, as I recall), and I ended up with some decent stock.

        1. re: Krislady

          Wherever you live, I am sure I'm not the only envious Hound. I'm in the Boston area, where the sale prices are double what you wrote. My dog is jealous of yours, too.

      2. Chicken stock is economical to make from whole chicken or parts. The other stocks are expensive to make, both because of the cost of the meat and even of bones, and because poultry yields more flavor per pound of meat than mammalian meats. I pay close to $2/# for raw beef bones for my dog. Those were free, or a pittance, 40 yrs. ago. Along with the return of head-to-tail eating has come heat-to-tail pricing.

        1. I buy whole chickens at 67-85 cents a pound or so (the sales vary between stores,) and beef bones between $1.29 and $1.49 a pound depending on the bones- beef feet are $1.49 a pound. The crockpot has stock in it 4-5 days a week here.

          1. In Portland, OR, prices per pound:

            Beef neck bones - $1.39
            Pork neck bones - $1.39
            Whole chickens - 79¢ (Foster Farms on sale)
            Chicken leg/thigh quarters, frozen in 10 lb. bags - 69¢
            Duck wings - $1.19

            I've also seen plain pork bones frozen in bags at one of the Asian markets for something ridiculously cheap like 49¢ per pound, but there was no meat on them.

            The oven-browned duck wings made 14 cups of an incredibly rich stock, and rendered out a good half a cup of duck fat from 6 lbs. worth. I wasn't expecting any fat on the wings at all.

            The beef and pork bones had sizable amounts of meat on them. Oxtails were running $5.59 per pound the last time I checked.

            1. wow i'm finding beef and pork bones for well under $1/lb at my asian market (so. cal). chicken is as others have said. ive never made veal/duck/lamb stock.

              1. I've been astonished at the cost of beef and veal bones in the Monterey Bay Area of CA. I'll have to check them again at the butcher, but they have really gone up. And oxtails are very pricey. Doesn't seem likely that suddenly lots of folks are making stock and driving the prices high, does it?

                10 Replies
                1. re: Discerning1

                  With a can of Swanson broth at $1 for less than 2 cups' worth and more people being exposed to the BPA story, and only so many bones to go around, I'd say it's a likely scenario that more people are making stock from scratch, driving up the prices.

                  It also could be dynamic pricing at work. If a supplier only sees a 25% drop in sales at double the price, it'd be worth it to trash or donate to a food bank what doesn't sell to get a higher effective price overall. All of the bones I see in the big name supermarkets here come with the same brand name sticker on them from a local wholesale meat cutter located not far from Portland, for about 75% more than I pay for the same unbranded bones at the Asian markets. So the bones I could buy at Safeway are just another commodity item they bring in prepared and packaged, rather than coming from breaking down a carcass in-store as in the distant past.

                  1. re: RelishPDX

                    weird. i have never seen branded bones, but my markets actually butcher and i also go to a regular butcher.

                  2. re: Discerning1

                    My theory is that bones are not as cheap as they used to be because there is little in-house butchering. Stores are receiving sub-primals or cuts of meat already processed and packed. These are what the consumers are buying so it's more cost-effective to save refrigerator space for what sells quickly. Reserving space for low-cost bones isn't good sales strategy. So they have to mark it up to make it worth selling.

                      1. re: Discerning1

                        Discerning1, we're in the same area. Is there a specific butcher you go to? I promise I won't buy up all the bones or oxtails! I only do chicken stock and that's once in a blue moon.

                        1. re: seamunky

                          My regular butcher is Deluxe Foods of Aptos. Sometimes I try Staff of Life or Shoppers Corner. What about you?

                          1. re: Discerning1

                            oh, I'm on the other Monterey side of the bay. I usually go to a carniceria called Mi Tierra in Seaside. They have the best price for oxtail although I usually just go for the bone-in cross cut shank. It's cheaper, has good flavored meat and more of it, AND you get delicious marrow after a long braise. But if you're looking for a gelatinous stock, you're right in seeking out the oxtail..

                            1. re: seamunky

                              OK...I'll try it next time I go to Costco in Sand City. Thanks for the tip.

                        2. re: Discerning1

                          plus 2 on this, but the skyrocketing cost of farm commodities in general. beef prices have gone through the roof in the last few years.

                          i can get beef neck bones and "soup" bones for .99 pp. sometimes feet. i stock up when i need them and spend a few days making stock to reduce and freeze.

                          other previously cheap cuts, like short ribs and oxtail, are pretty spendy these days, so i mostly skip them, unless on sale.

                          in asian markets, i look for bags of head, feet and backs, which are usually a buck a bag for lots. i can also find salmon heads and frames for .50 a pound there, for fish stock.

                          i don't have call for duck or lamb stock.

                          i use pork neck bones for red sauce and they are usually .99 pp.

                        3. re: seamunky

                          I think you're right on. A constant irritant to me is that most stores can't cut your preferred cut to order as most butcher shops once did. And if you try asking for stock bones in most supermarkets - like shins - you're be greeted with a blank look.

                      2. I'm not sure what the weight is, probably because it's just so cheap, but we pay $1.50 for a good sized bag (our big stock pot holds four bags) of chicken or beef bones.

                        Mr S. was joking about the price going up 50% because last year, the price was $1 per bag.

                        1. Well lucky for me I live in the San Gabriel Valley probably the most Asian populated region in the USA.

                          When it comes to bones I can get chicken bones cheaply from a place that only sells chickens.
                          When it comes to pork bones I can choose between neck, back, or other usually in the $1.29 range or less and they have a fair amount of meat on them too.
                          Beef bones usually go for 0.79/lb here as well for random knuckles and leg cuts, I've seen entire leg bones go for about 1.20ish.

                          1. Here in Albany, I generally hit Rolf's Pork Store (yes, they sell more than pork), for chicken stock necks and backs. When I was there a couple of days ago they were on sale for 50 cents a pound, so I bought a ton of them, stuck them in the freezer, and can use them later on. I imagine there are similar places in other cities that need to dispose of those parts in an era in which people seem only to care for boneless chicken breasts. Beef and veal are a tougher proposition - I generally go to a local butcher and buy a big bag of bones, but they aren't always available, and as pointed out they're more pricey than I'd like. The best option I've found is to buy beef back ribs, which you can find frequently, roast them with some veggies, and then make brown stock. I've seen these recently in a few places for as low as $1.29/lb., but that's a far cry from the 59 cents a pound I was seeing only a few years ago.

                            1. I was going to chime into what Johnny L said, but a bit expanded; ethnic markets are where you want to shop. Middle Eastern for lamb, Asian for everything else (especially pork). The bigger the store, the better, and greater variety.
                              Here in ingredient-starved Tucson (there's not one butcher shop, nor fish monger in the entire city) we have a nice group of ethnic markets, with great quality meat (and bones), at very nice prices.
                              Not as cheap as in Orange County, where I used to live, but much better than the local grocers.
                              Veal, on the other hand, you'll have to bite the bullet, or marry a butcher.

                              1. Was at my local market last night. They have huge buckets of this stuff and will take it through a banding saw if you would like smaller pieces.

                                Here's what they were going for:

                                Beef bones - 54 cents per pound

                                Lamb bones - 74 cents per pound

                                Veal bones - 89 cents per pund

                                Pork bones - 69 cents per pound

                                Chicken necks and backs - 69 cents per pound

                                I should also add that this market was stocked with tons of halal (sp?) meats.

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: Novelli

                                  Great prices. I'd love to see those beef bone prices around here in particular.

                                  1. re: Novelli

                                    I have heard good things about Halal meat markets. I needed a lamb shoulder and couldn't find it in traditional supermarket meat depts. A friend said to try a Halal meat market and the bonus is that it's much cheaper.

                                    1. re: Novelli

                                      Where are you Novelli? If there is a way to determine what region posters are from I don't know it. Can you tell us what market this is?

                                      1. re: intuitivelyobvious

                                        I live in San Pedro, Ca.
                                        The market is a small chain down here called Top Value (not usually revered-at times, kinda scary), but this one seems to be independently owned/franchised by what I believe, are Armenians. They have your standard beef, pork, and chicken, but what really brings me in is their halal section of meats. Everything from split lambs heads, tongues, and kidneys, to 7 bone roasts of veal, to large rib sections of mutton (very strong flavored).

                                        There's another straight butcher shop here that's been run by Croatians for the longest. Old school. But I haven't checked their prices on bones as they carry tons of Prime meat. I would assume it's probably more expensive.

                                        1. re: Novelli

                                          We love Top Valu! As with anything else you have to pick and choose but they have B-grade produce at unbeatable prices and A-grade hispanic items at unbeatable prices. However our local one (Culver City branch) has never had bones at these prices. They seem to have a big meat counter. I wonder if yours does more breaking down of primal cuts than ours does. I may have to make an expedition. What is the name of the Croatian butcher? On a tangent I went to the Hungarian festival at the Croatian Cultural Center down in your area last year. Have you ever been to Mishi's for strudel (in house or frozen to go)?

                                    2. I like to BBQ pork and beef ribs from time to time. I always make stock out of the left over bones. The smoky flavor would not be appropriate for some applications but it makes great soup.

                                      1. In the interest of Chowhound community research, I carefully examined the beef bones at 99 Ranch, a pan-Asian supermarket chain. There were so many varieties. Here as labeled for the beef bones:

                                        Beef bones $1.19
                                        Shank bones $1.29
                                        Hind shank bones $3.29 (very meaty)
                                        Neck bones $2.29
                                        Oxtails $5.69

                                         
                                         
                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: Discerning1

                                          oxtails were $3.59 yesterday (and most days lately), which seems spendy to me. not compared to yours! yipes.