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When it comes to real food, I believe that animal products play a role in promoting good health in humans and today I want to talk about 5 tips for sourcing affordable grass-fed meats.
While I do think that we can all eat more vegetables and less meat, I don’t feel that long-term health can be achieved without consuming animal products. I do not wish to open up a debate regarding plant-based diets versus those who consume meat. I would, however, state that we should all try to eat more vegetables every single day and I challenge you to up the ante in the vegetable department if possible.
My goal for myself personally is to eat 6-9 cups of veggies every day coupled with some sort of animal-based protein at each meal (4-5 ounces, depending on how I’m feeling). Most of these vegetables are in cooked form since that is easiest on my digestion while I heal my chronic illness. But, I do also consume some raw vegetables because there are benefits in both cooked and raw vegetable consumption. I love salads, especially in the spring and summer, and find those to be an excellent way to get more raw foods into my diet.
The goal with healthy animal products is progress, not perfection. I do understand that not everyone can afford grass-fed and pastured meats all the time (myself included). I don’t want people to become discouraged or frustrated because they feel they can’t do it all “perfectly.” Eating real food is not a competition and should never make you feel bad about the choices you need to make to keep the grocery budget in line.
I like to look at grass-fed and pastured products as a goal to reach at some point, especially for those who are newer to real food. I encourage everyone to buy higher quality meats, dairy products, and eggs whenever possible, but at the same time, also encourage them to NOT stress out over the other times when it might not fit into your budget. I talk about this A LOT in my Real Food 101 books.
That said, products from properly raised animals are some of the most nutrient-dense foods that you can eat and you truly get what you pay for when it comes to these protein sources.
5 Tips for How to Source Affordable Grass-Fed Meats
Grass-fed and pastured meats cost more than their conventional counterparts. That’s just the way it is. I am hopeful that as the demand for grass-fed meats continues to grow the prices will continue to come down. In the 6 years since I started this site, I have seen a massive shift in the demand for grass-fed and pastured products and I expect that to continue to grow at a rapid pace.
Truly, the prices for these healthier products are already starting to come down (compared to where they were in 2010), though they are still higher than “regular” products. So, when it comes to fitting grass-fed and pastured meats into our diets and our budgets, we may need to get a little creative. I’m all about getting creative with the grocery budget in order to make it go further. Here are some of my top tips:
1. Always keep an eye out for sales at your local health food stores.
Recently my Natural Grocers has been running some killer deals on chicken and beef. Whenever I am there I always swing by the clearance freezer to see if there’s anything good. I’ve been getting some grass-fed and pastured meats for 50% off their original price, which is incredible! I also got a 24 pound turkey for TEN DOLLARS!!!!!!!!
2. Talk to farmers and ranchers at your local markets.
Learn about their operations, processing times, what products they offer, etc. Find out what the best way is to save money if you purchase through them. Most local farmers and ranchers LOVE to talk to customers so I guarantee you’ll make some new friends for life!
3. Invest in an extra freezer and buy in bulk.
I cannot stress enough the value of having the extra freezer space when it comes to real food in general, not just meat. Your freezer will pay for itself time and time again. We currently have two freezers in our basement, a chest freezer and an upright freezer and I keep those suckers packed!
Check garage sales, Craigslist, or scratch-and-dent appliance stores for some really good deals. For a look at my freezers and what I keep in them, check out this post on batch cooking to save time. When you have the extra freezer space, you can buy meat in bulk which will always drive down the cost.
4. Create Your Own Co-Op
You can save a lot of money when you buy meat in bulk (think a half or quarter cow), but if you don’t have the extra freezer space, what should you do? Split it with friends and family! Create your own co-op of sorts and have multiple people go in on a big order. This drives cost down and gets grass-fed meat in the hands of more people.
5. Shop Online
I am constantly reminded how much I take living in Colorado for granted. Here in CO, we have access to pretty much everything we want when it comes to healthy food. We have lots of health food stores, tons of grass-fed ranches, raw milk dairy farms, fantastic CSAs (community supported agriculture) and a great number of urban homesteaders and community gardens too where you can get your hands on some of the best quality food around.
Since my businesses span across the Internet and therefore the country and the world, when speaking to readers I am often surprised to hear that they don’t have easy access to local grass-fed meats. Or if they do, sometimes it’s far outside of their current grocery budget.
That’s why, even though I am a fan of buying locally when you can, I am also a big supporter of buying healthy, real food online and that includes grass-fed and pastured meats. There are a number of services available. If you need help finding one, reach out and let me know!