Thursday, October 18, 2012

meat is expensive

The other day I went to the store solo to pick up groceries. I hadn't been by out shopping by myself in a while and hadn't really paid much attention to the price of meat. I'm sure this isn't news to a lot of you, but it sure shocked me to pay over $4/lb for ground beef. This wasn't the fancy stuff either, just regular ol' beef in a tube.

I'm sad to say that there's a good chance that the price will rise in the future with the drought in the Midwest and the continuing devaluation of the dollar.

So what's the solution?
Grow your own?
Go vegetarian/vegan?

Unfortunately, many of us are unable to take such extreme measures. I think there are some thing we could do lower the cost of meat.

1.) Buy meat on sale or in quantities that reduce the price per pound. Stock up when it's cheap and store/preserve it for future use. Either freezing or canning meat is a great way to store meat.

2.) Go in with a group and buy a steer/hog and have it processed to your specs and then divide the meat between the members of the group. This step cuts out the middle man. It does take quite a bit of planning and coordination to ensure costs are kept low and everyone gets the cuts they want. Costs associated with this solution would definitely be higher in urban areas where access to livestock and a means of transport are limited.

3.) Process and package on your own. While costs would be low, this is a rather daunting solution. It would also be difficult logistically - and probably not feasible for those living in a suburban or urban setting (although picturing such an operation in an apartment does make me chuckle). If you're up to it, there are many resources available to help.

4.) Consider alternative sources of protein. Can you substitute venison for beef? Feral hog for regular pork? Taking game you have harvested to a commercial processor might be cost-prohibitive, so home processing is a good option. With a little more work in the field, it is possible to cut and wrap a deer or similar sized game in a small apartment - trust me, I've done it before. Quatering the animal in the field and transporting the meat back to an apartment in ice chests is relatively easy and fairly inconspicuous.

Be sure and do your research beforehand to ensure that the option you have chosen is less expensive than the grocery store alternative. Even if it does cost a little more, the quality of the end product may offset tha added cost.

I'm sure there are other options out there. Once again, I'm in no way professing to be the end all, be all expert on the subject. I just want to show that there are things you can do to alleviate the high costs of meat. There is also a high degree of satisfaction obtained from being a little more self-reliant and gaining another skill set.

Keep your powder dry and your knives sharp.

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