This guy says he saves $500 a year on groceries by buying the whole cow from local farms. [Lifehacker]


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  1. JiminyChristmas says:

    I have an aunt and uncle who do this annually, except with a pig. Some farmers who sell directly to the public in this manner will also let you buy shares, i.e.: 1/2 or 1/4 of a piece of livestock. That can be a better way to go, since a hog could net you at least 125 pounds of meat.

  2. sunwukong says:

    Used to do it regularly with 1/4 or 1/2 a side of beef and, a few times, a half a pig.

    While you get good quality stuff, you do wind up with a lot that you just don’t really want, e.g., a whole lotta ground beef.

  3. B says:

    Why buy the cow when the milk’s free? Also, where do you keep the cow?

  4. backbroken says:

    Here’s a tip: save even more on groceries by buying the whole farm.

    There’s a reason I don’t buy the whole cow, and money has nothing to do with it.

  5. SarcasticDwarf says:

    If you have the storage space (as in a large chest freezer or two) this can be an excellent way to save money and get higher quality foods.

  6. huadpe says:

    @SarcasticDwarf: Also, knowing how to butcher a cow is really helpful here, or you’ll just waste a bunch of beef by cutting it poorly. That or end up using alot of filet and ribeye for ground beef.

  7. Nighthawke says:

    We buy 1/2 or 3/4 beefs from the county fair. Award winners, top quality beef, we never had a bad batch yet.

  8. damnit, i was about to email this to the consumerist…

  9. ShariC says:

    My parents bought a calf, raise it to full cow status, then sent bossy to a butcher to maximize savings. The only problem was us kids fell in love with its placid demeanor and big brown eyes and raised a fuss (though they had her for dinner anyway). After that, they just bought the whole cow which someone else raised and had it butchered.

  10. @huadpe: Typically it’s butchered for you, either to a standard set of cuts or to order.

    Good savings if you have the freezer space, and know (or are willing to learn) how to cook odd cuts. If you only eat meat as meat, not in (say) stew, it’s probably not for you.

  11. adamcz says:

    Do the savings factor in the cost of a second freezer and the electricity required to power it? And the property taxes on the 4 square feet needed to house that extra freezer?

  12. crapple says:

    @adamcz: Many homeowners already have the space, and some even already have a chest freezer (or a deep freezer as we always called it growing up). My parents already have one and do this for all their ground beef – they aren’t big steak eaters, but the quality of the ground beef is much better than anything in the supermarket – and a lot cheaper!

  13. wfpearson says:

    $500 would pay for the deep freeze to keep it all in. What’s the point of buying fresh organic beef if you’re just going to kill the flavor by freezing it? I’d rather pay the premium for a tasty steak.

    Buying whole chickens makes sense, but I’d rather pay the butcher to clean it for me. By buying the whole chicken I use it three times before throwing away the carcass. I usually roast or smoke the bird. Well carve the chicken up and eat most of the white meat. We make a chicken casserole with the scraps. After the carcass is clean we throw it in a crock pot with a gallon of water for 5 hours and have chicken broth for soups.

  14. capnjack says:

    You just took the words out of my mouth. My thoughts exactly.

  15. Mr. Gunn says:

    wfpearson: The quality improvement of the local farm-raised meat over supermarket meat will more than make up for the freezing.

    Of course, you’ve got to have space for a deep-freeze, and you’ve got to know how to cook, so that excludes a good bit of people.

  16. BigElectricCat says:


    I have an aunt and uncle who do that. Every spring, they name one of the new calves “Meat.” Every October, that year’s “Meat” gets a trip to the freezer.

    My favorite bit’s the liver. Maybe with some roasted redskin potatoes.

  17. DantePD says:

    Even better than cow? Bison. I’m still searching for a farm in Alabama though. Bison beats the crap out of cow on all counts taste and health wise.