Baby ducklings on my uncle’s farm in Oregon.
Earlier this week I showed you how growing some of your own food can help bring down the costs of being on the autoimmune protocol. Today we move on to how to save money on buying high quality meat, something that is an integral part of this way of eating.
Tip 2: Invest in a deep freezer and get in the routine of buying bulk meat. I can’t tell you how much getting a freezer changed the way that I source my food. After pining after one for months, I bought one used off of craigslist for $100. When I bought it I didn’t have any space in my house, but I thought that it was so important that I asked my sister if I could put it in her garage. I would visit once a week to deposit what I had bought or grab things I needed. Now my housing situation has changed and we have it in the garage, which is super convenient.
My first adventure in buying bulk meat came last fall. I was introduced to Crown S. Ranch by my friends who have been customers and friends of theirs for years. I had been buying meat by the cut from them for awhile, but eventually I learned that it would be better to buy in bulk. First, in order to sell meat by the cut the cows have to be transported to a USDA facility, which gets all of the adrenaline and stress hormones circulating through their bodies – I don’t really want the animals that I eat to have to go through that if I can avoid it. I also don’t want to eat the meat that has those hormones in it. By buying the cow before it is slaughtered, the farm can legally do it in the pastures which is much more humane.
Another benefit to buying in bulk is that it is far cheaper than buying meat at the store or farmer’s market. I was paying around $5-6 a pound for the cheapest cuts of local, grass-fed meat. In contrast, by buying a quarter of a cow at once, I would be getting a wide variety of cuts from the cheap ground beef and roasts to the more pricey tenderloin and t-bone, plus lots of bones. The price ended up working out to $6 a pound, which was on the high end of what I was paying in the store, but considering all of the benefits (knowing the farmer, avoiding the slaughterhouse, getting prime cuts etc.) there was no question that buying in bulk was the better route. If you are looking for a farm near you that sells pastured and sustainable animal products, Eat Wild is the best resource I have found. They have a directory of farms by state with all of their contact information and what animal products they sell.
After I bought the bulk beef, I found a source for bulk sustainable salmon from a local fishmonger. They sell fish that their family catches in Alaska to groups that will buy quantities larger than 100 pounds. Every few months my friends and I will put in an order together and have them make a drop for us at someone’s house. By pooling together and buying in bulk, we are able to get a high quality product at the fraction of the price that we could be paying at the store (my source is half the price!). Not to mention that this fishmonger is committed to sustainable fishing practices, and they freeze the fish on the boat so it is always fresher than you could purchase otherwise.
Lastly, in addition to being able to store some of my staples (bone broth and meat patties), a deep freezer enables me to shop sales when I come across them. Last summer I went to all of the local U-pick farms and filled my freezer with blueberries and raspberries for only $2 a pound. I love having the frozen summer berries as an alternative to the costly (both to our pocketbook and the environment) South American counterparts that we have available to us at the store this time of year. The deep freezer also allows me to stock up on meat or fish that I come upon for a good price. For instance last week I found pastured stewing hens for $10 at my farmer’s market – I bought a few and threw them in the freezer for later.
The next article in the series will cover how to join a buying club and shop online effectively to save on your food budget.
Do you have a deep freezer? How has it changed the way that you source your food?