Quarter beef or side of beef, which is right for me?

Quarter beef or side of beef, which is right for me?

1. How much meat should we buy? There are a few things to consider to determine if a quarter beef or a side of beef is a better fit. Are you hoping this purchase will last you 3-4 months or 6 months? A helpful exercise you may want to try at home may answer this question. Over a two week period, track how much meat (or beef specifically) you buy, cook and eat at home. Then multiply that number by 26. The results may surprise you. Our quarter beef shares typical range in finished freezer weight between 87 - 94lbs.

Frozen beef holds it's quality well. This is especially true with the vacuum-sealed packaging that is used at Pioneer Meats (our hometown USDA inspected processor). So depending on how much meat your family goes through over the course of a month, it's nice to try and buy for six months or more at a time. Why? Mainly, because grass finished beef is best harvested within the season that the grasses are lush and growing or just at the end of the growing season (think late September or early October here in Montana). While it's possible to get good beef outside of this window, why not buy your beef share when it's in its peak of deliciousness.

2. How much freezer space will we need? If you'd like to buy a share of a large animal such as a beef, you're going to need a dedicated freezer. Your kitchen freezer will not cut it, sorry. In Montana with so many families also actively involved in hunting or fishing, this is not hard to come by. Freezer space is measured in cubic feet. So, let's cover how much space you should plan for with a quarter beef or side of beef.
If your freezer is a chest freezer, you can plan on storing approximately 22lbs of frozen meat per cubic ft. If your freezer is an upright one, then plan on 20lbs of frozen meat per cubic foot. I've found this information to be accurate with our freezers. For example, I can fit 3/4 of a beef into my 13 cubic foot upright freezer. I'll be honest though it's an exciting game of tetris to pull it off.

Hopefully, this blog post has been useful in helping decide between a 1/4 beef or a 1/2 beef. Buying meat this way from your local producers can be intimidating the first time around, but the benefits are well worth it in the end. Thanks for reading.
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