You know organic meat is worth the premium price in terms of health for your family and the environment, but sometimes it’s hard to justify shelling out the extra money when you’ve got other expenses to worry about. We hear you. But it is possible to do it without breaking the bank if you make a few simple changes in the way you shop and cook. It’s worth it, after all, because Organic Meat Can Protect You From Getting Sick.
Click through the slideshow to check out our tips for eating organic meat on a budget.
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You many not think about hopping on the Internet to order a couple of steaks or a few pounds of bacon, but you can score some great deals on organic meat by hunting around online. Some of the steepest discounts we’ve found are on the American Farmer’s Network website, which advertises USDA certified organic meat from a network of small family farms that are committed to humane practices.
Related: What Is “Processed Meat” Exactly?
Many smaller local farms also now offer online ordering, and some of them have sales and discounts. Do your research, and always check customer reviews before buying.
Big box stores like Sam’s Club and Costco are hopping on the organic train. In fact, according to one analysis, Costco was the biggest organic grocer in the U.S. in 2015. And while shopping at these bulk retailers may not give you the satisfaction of knowing where your meat comes from or the feeling that you’ve supported your local community, it’s a sign of a growing demand for organics amongst the mainstream.
Everyone wants T-bones and New York strip steaks, but there are plenty of other equally delicious cuts that you may not have heard of, like bavette or merlot steaks. Look for The Best Waste-Not Cuts directly from a farm or butcher, since they may not be popular enough to be found at the grocery store. They’re typically less expensive than premium cuts since there’s less demand for them, and you can be glad you’re keeping part of the steer from going to waste.
The way it works is you pay a set price to the CSA in advance and receive a few pieces of fresh meat each week for a predetermined amount of time. This type of program benefits ranchers because they get capital to invest in raising livestock up front, rather than having to wait until the animal is ready for slaughter to make back their investments. You benefit by getting farm-fresh meat at a good price and by knowing you’ve supported local agriculture.
Related: 7 Quirky CSAs
Some ranchers will sell you a full, half, or quarter cow (or a half or full pig or lamb) before the animals are butchered. And no, that doesn’t mean they’re going to just hand you a gigantic hunk of meat. You place your order with a rancher, and when the animal is butchered, you’ll get your designated portion of meat in a variety of cuts. Typically you’ll pay by the pound for the hanging weight (the weight of meat after the animal is slaughtered and the blood drained), plus butchering and processing fees. Not only will you know exactly where your meat is coming from and the practices used to raise it, but you’ll also end up saving on retail prices. You’ll usually pay less per pound if you commit to a full animal, too. If you don’t eat that much meat, find another family or two to split it with you. Of course, you’ll need a freezer big enough store 100-plus pounds of meat, but it should last you for a full year. It’s a good deal for farmers, too, because they don’t need to spend extra money on marketing and shipping or worry about being stuck with unpopular cuts.
By now we all know that eating less meat benefits the environment. And since the World Health Organization declared processed meat cancerous in 2015, you should carefully watch how much—and what kind of meat—you eat. It’ll benefit your health, the planet, and your bank account. If you find yourself eating meat at every meal, it can be hard to change your habits, so start small. Try going vegetarian one night a week to start (this Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie is a great place to begin experimenting).
Bone broth is incredibly nutritious—and a great way to get the most from your food. Get more for your money by using bones in homemade stocks.
Keep a large container in the freezer, and add bones to it whenever you have some, so you’ll have them on hand next time you’re in the mood for soup. You’ll keep something useful from being wasted, and you’ll have delicious broth for free.