Tips for Buying Bulk Beef

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Buying bulk beef is a phenomenal way to save money, save time and be prepared. I’m sharing tips for buying beef in bulk and creative ways to package it so you can use it later. It is a great feeling to have everything you need to feed your family in your own freezer.

Steak with rosemary sprig on a plate

This post is sponsored by The Beef Checkoff.  As always, all opinions are my own.

To start we need to know a little bit more about beef. What are the cuts, grades and how to decipher the packaging etc.

Types of Beef

The cow can be basically broken up into regions from which the meat is categorized. There are roughly 14 regions including neck, brisket, chuck, fore shank, rib, short plate, short loin, sirloin, tenderloin, top sirloin, flank, rump cap, round and shank.

The beef is then cut into three different categories: primal, sub-primal, and retail. Primal region is usually the whole region which is then cut into smaller sections known as sub-primal. They are then processed into retail cuts of beef that we see in the cases at our local supermarket.

A photo list of all of the retail cuts of beef.

With so many beef cuts and name variations, it can be confusing. Beef It’s What’s For Dinner shows you all of the various cuts and the best way to prepare each, including bulk ground beef.


RECIPES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Garlic Herb Beef Roast | Extra Crispy Finger Steaks | The Best Ground Beef Enchiladas


How to Interpret the Labels on the Packages

Each beef package label typically identifies the name of the cut of beef, the weight, price per pound, the total price and the sell by date. Additionally, it will include the grade, nutrition, safe handling instructions and country of origin.

What is grade and how is it determined? Grade is determined by several factors, one key identifier is the degree of fat, also known as marbling. Age of the animal, muscle and color also come into consideration.

The three grades are prime, choice and select. Want even more information, check here. All these grades can make wonderful, nutritious and delicious meals for your family.

Woman reading a package of beef at a supermarket

Where to Buy Bulk Beef

All beef is great to buy in bulk and it can be frozen in either the raw or cooked form for up to a year when done properly.

  • Grocery Stores: Your local grocery store often has amazing sales on their beef. When you see a great price, buy additional to freeze for later. Check your weekly flyers for deals, almost all stores offer large meat sales several times a year.
  • Box Stores: Their prices are extremely competitive and also can run sales that will make them even more competitive.
  • Farmers: You can buy in bulk from your local farmer and really save. They offer great prices and you are supporting local. Try buying a quarter or half a cow with friends. They often come pre-wrapped for freezer storage. You can locate where to buy beef in the northeast here.
  • Online: Many people have started looking online to find deals on beef. Make sure that the site is reputable and safe before purchasing.
  • Butchers: An independent local butcher can often get you a great deal on beef and also give you great tips on how to prepare those cuts.
Woman looking at a steak in the grocery store.

How to Repackage Beef for Freezing and Storing

Now that you have all this wonder beef at home, how do you go about repackaging it and protect you investment. Here are a few helpful suggestions.

  • Remove: Remove beef from store packaging, to prepare for freezing.
  • Measure: A little forethought goes a long way. Repackage your meat by how you are going to use it. This can really save on waste. If you know that you are going to use a certain recipe, package that beef by the portion required for the recipe or alternatively, a good rule of thumb is about half a pound per serving or 8 ounces per person.
  • Double Up: wrap the beef in freezer paper or plastic wrap 1st, then wrap in foil for an airtight seal. Use good quality to protect your beef from air, as it the enemy. You can then place like items in freezer bags, or other airtight containers for storage in the freezer if you like.
  • Vacuum Sealer: These sealers are an exceptional way to protect your meat. They are very affordable now and can be used for many different things.
  • Label: This is vital. You need to know what you have wrapped and when it was frozen as beef is good for up to a year in the freezer. Take time to label and rotate your beef in the freezer so that the oldest is in the front and the newest in the back.
Frozen ground beef in a zipper bag.

Common Questions About Beef

CAN I SWAP DIFFERENT CUTS OF BEEF IN RECIPES?

Of course, some less expensive cuts can be used in recipes, it may require a longer cook time or different preparation or cutting techniques. Find out more information here.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GRASS FED OR GRAIN FED BEEF?

Grass fed beef consume grass until its entire life, while grain fed also utilizes grass but supplements the cows diet with healthy balanced grains.

IS ALL GRASS FED BEEF ORGANIC?

No, cattle free from any antibiotics or growth-promoting hormones are considered organic. These cattle may be spend time at the feedyard and can be either grass-finished or grain-finished as long as the USDA’s Agriculture Marketing Service certifies the feed as 100% organically grown.

WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO COOK BEEF?

Honestly, you can cook it in so many different way the combinations are never ending. It will greatly depend on the cut of the meat to bring out the best qualities. However, slow cooking, barbequing and roasting are a few favorites.

HOW DO YOU THAW MEAT BEFORE COOKING?

There are several methods. However, the gold standard is to place it in the refrigerator overnight to thaw. You can also submerge in a cold water bath or utilize the microwave for faster results. Here is a great pressure cooker version.

WHAT TO MAKE WITH YOUR BEEF?

Glad you asked! You can make these recipes ahead of time and freeze for later or alternatively, you can thaw the beef and make:
>Slow Cooker Italian Beef
>Pressure Cooker Meatloaf
>Balsamic Grilled Skirt Steak
>Pressure Cooker Pot Roast

PRO TIP: I like to package the beef and the other ingredients for Slow Cooker Italian Beef together in one freezer bag. Then, I simply have to thaw and cook!

Expert Tips to Consider

  • Handling: Wash hands well in hot, soapy water before and after handling raw meat and other fresh foods.Keep raw meat and juices away from other foods. Wash all utensils, cutting surfaces and counters after contact with raw meat.
  • Other Ways to Store Beef: For long term storage consider drying beef into tasty jerky or beef can even be canned.
  • Nutrition: Beef is an excellent source of protein and supplies 10 essential nutrients including B-vitamins, zinc, and iron that support an active and healthy lifestyle.
  • Variation tip: If purchasing half a cow, you can often use the parts you do not want to eat to make your own pet food. They can be freeze dried or cooked into nutritious meals.

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