We decided to try buying our meat from a meat locker a few years ago after hearing from several people how much money they had saved. It seemed a little intimidating at first, because we didn’t know anything about it. We got together with a family who knew a farmer and decided to give it a try. We still usually will go in on a cow with one or more families, depending on who needs what at the time.
ALL NATURAL EQUALS BEST FLAVOR
All of the cows we have gotten our beef from have been raised free range and fed organically, and it really makes a difference in the taste. Everything, including the hamburger, has a richer, more flavorful taste than what we get from the grocery store.
HOW TO BEGIN
If you don’t know a farmer the best way to begin a relationship with a meat locker is to simply go in and introduce yourself and tell them you would like to buy X amount of meat from a local farmer. The locker deals with the locals daily and should be able to put you in contact with a farmer or just broker the deal themselves. You will need to know how much you want (a whole, a half, a quarter) and find out what the farmer charges per pound for the animal on the hoof. Once you have that settled there is usually a short wait; generally a few weeks, depending on how close the animal is to slaughter. The locker calls when they know the animal is being brought in and will give you the date the meat will be ready after processing.
THE BIG DAY
When the day comes to pick up your meat, take some coolers with you because it will all be frozen solid. (I would assume, at this point, that you know you are going to need a deep freezer at home!) You then pay for the meat locker processing the meat. Sometimes we have paid the farmer separately and other times left a check for him with the locker. Your locker charges will include slaughtering, processing the carcass, grinding and offal. As you might imagine you can end up with a lot of ground beef if you decide on a cow, so we pay the nominal fee to have ½ of it made into patties. With pork your fees can include bacon and ham curing.
HOW MUCH CAN YOU SAVE?
How much can you save buying in bulk from a locker? Looking back at our receipts our beef processing weight has ranged from 269 to 730 pounds. Adding up what we paid the farmer and the meat locker it averages out to $1.80 per pound. And that’s for everything from ground beef to roasts to steaks.
So, would it save you money to buy from a locker?