Winter storms are the perfect excuse to hole up inside on these dark days over a bowl of slow-cooked roast beef. We recently purchased beef in bulk from a local farmer to help us spend more time lingering at the table this winter and less time running out to the grocery store.

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This is what 1/4 of a cow looks like, cut and wrapped (roughly 100 pounds of beef)

If you are a meat-eater, buying your meat in larger portions can be a smart move for several reason. It is often more economical to buy in bulk, you’re not spending time every week at the butcher counter and you get more control over where and how your meat was raised. Plus, we really appreciate having a personal connection with the ranchers and farmers who help us make it through winter. As much as we preserve what we grow and try to maximize the growing season, we simply can’t do it alone and still balance our daily lives.

We got connected with our beef rancher a few years back at the farmers market. He has since moved on to other crops and is no longer selling at the market, but he still raises a few cows every year for repeat customers. His cattle are grass fed in eastern Oregon with no antibiotics. It’s meat we trust from a farmer who respects the land – all good things.

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Ground beef, wrapped in one pound increments

This year we decided to buy a quarter of a cow for our growing family. A mature cow typically equals about 400 pounds of cut and wrapped meat after processing, so that’s 100 pounds of beef in our share. Here’s what we got from our share:

  • 46 pounds of ground beef
  • 24 pounds of roasts: chuck, bottom round, rump, sirloin tip, arm
  • 24 pounds of steaks – round top, ribeye, tbone, sirloin, eye of round flank and filet mignon
  • 3 pounds of brisket
  • 5 pounds of short ribs

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Steak portions cut and vacuum sealed with 2-3 per package

The meat is wrapped in vacuum-sealed plastic, so it should stay fresh in our small chest freezer for up to a year. The butcher also wrapped the portions in useful increments – one pound packages for ground beef, 2-3 pound roasts, 2 steaks per wrapping, etc. If you’re scared off by the commitment to such a large quantity, considering going in on a portion with friends. In years past, we would split a quarter of a cow with friends – each taking home an eighth. Ranchers often won’t extend bulk pricing on orders smaller than a quarter.

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Roasts cut and vacuum-sealed in 3 pound increments – perfect wintertime dinner

It feels so good to know that we can plan meals almost exclusively around what we have at home for the coming months. I’m looking forward to sharing lots of slow-cooked beef recipes this season. Feel free to share yours in the comments below!

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