Questions and Answers about Buying a 1/4 of a Cow {Take THAT Pink Slime}

The internet has has been exploding over the "pink slime" beef found at a local grocery store near you. Many grocery stores have been quick to respond to this PR train wreck, and government officials have been reporting on how “safe” it is for consumption. {Here’s a list of pink slime free grocery stores. } If you’ve watched Food Inc., you may not have been astonished by this “beef trimming” process, but plenty of people are disgusted and looking for healthier alternatives.


It makes us thankful for our freezer stalked with a fourth of cow! We’ve had a lot of people ask us questions about our cow, so I thought I’d address a few of those questions via this post.

freezer farm fresh beef quarter cow

Where do you purchase your cow and how can I order one?

We are fortunate that Brad’s uncle works for a farmer that butchers a few cows each year. There are lots of local farmers that sell their beef as whole, half, and quarter portions. Research and ask around at your local farmer’s market.  Also, your local butcher is an excellent source to find beef farmers in your area. (If you are local, there is a farmer from my hometown who raises cattle that I could refer you to if interested.)

Is eating store bought beef versus straight from a farmer really any different?

YES! First of all, you know where the cow comes from, how it is cared for/fed, and that it’s overall healthy. Secondly, it comes from ONE cow, rather than a enormous mixing of cattle parts. {gross} The taste is much heartier, and is pure beef rather than water and other chemical preservatives.  {Here’s an article that details the difference between store packed and fresh frozen beef.}

Isn’t it expensive?

While it’s not as cheap as a McDonald’s Big Mac, in my opinion the quality is well worth the expense.  It’s something you will have to research what is best and affordable for your own family. Prices vary by farm and how the cattle is raised, but ours came out to under $2.50 a pound after processing, which is a great price when you consider that you are paying for quality steaks, ground beef, roasts, and other cuts for around the same price as ground beef at the grocery store.

What in the world do you do with all that meat?

Feed these growing boys! 🙂 Here’s some of the ways we cooked our 1/4 of a cow:

Ground Beef: Burgers on the Grill, Tacos, Spaghetti Sauce, Enchilada Casserole, Chili, Meatloaf (including Crock Pot Meatloaf), Baked Ziti, Layered Mexican Pizza, BBQ Meatballs

Roasts: Italian Beef, PW’s Perfect  Pot Roast, Pot Roast in a Bag, Crock Pot Chipotle Shredded Beef, French Dip Sandwiches, Barbeque Sandwiches

Steaks: Fajitas, Steak on the Grill, Steak on the Iron Skillet

{We need to get some good recipes for cube steak and round steak. If anyone has a tasty one please share!}

A 1/4 of a cow pretty much fills an entire freezer, so you have to factor that into your decision.

Buying a quarter of a cow works well for our family, but it’s certainly not for everyone.  How about YOU?  Have you purchased/consumed farm fresh beef?

22 thoughts on "Questions and Answers about Buying a 1/4 of a Cow {Take THAT Pink Slime}"

  1. I never really buy cube steak, but I bought some the other day to make the Pioneer Woman’s steak sandwich:

    Oh my goodness, it was delicious. I highly recommend it.

  2. Emily Hasselbeck says:

    My grandparents always made us cube steak, mashed potatoes, and corn when we visited. It’s still a favorite of mine when I want comfort food, but it isn’t very healthy! 🙂 Just season some flour with salt and pepper (I usually add some garlic too), and dredge the meat in the flour. Then cook it in hot oil until the juices run clear- you have to be careful- if it gets too done it will be chewy! I’m still perfecting exactly how long to cook it…..just an idea if you want some hearty home-cooking goodness. 🙂 Buying a portion of a cow (or pig) has always appealed to me, but we’ll have to wait until there are more than just two of us! It would take us FOREVER to eat all that meat (and we don’t have the freezer space currently!).

  3. Jamie B. says:

    I use round steak to make Swiss Steak. I buy the packaged seasoning that comes with the bag to cook it in. I usually add some peppers and onions. Great served with rice!

  4. R.Marsh says:

    We buy our meat like this as well.

    In addition to the 1/4 beef a year we buy 1/2 of a hog.

    Usually after curing and processing 1/2 of a hog is about $1.50- $2.00 per # depending on how much “fancy stuff” you get ie. Sausages, bacon & ham.

    It is a great was to get the best for less.

    These days you can buy a chest freezer for not too much either. If you live in an area prone to power outages you may want to consider getting a backup generator for the freezer though…it would be a sad day if you had to throw all of it away…

    Round steak makes great meat for stews. Cube it up and put in the crock pot with beef stock and you favorite vegetables.

    I agree Swiss steak is great to make with cube steak.

  5. teresa says:

    We “trade” work for beef with my grandpa so we have a whole steer in our freezer. We butchered it ourselves so we don’t have a lot of fancy cuts, but we mainly use burger and roasts anyway, and steak you cut to your own choosing doesn’t get any better!! We also have 3 deer in our freezer, which when prepared properly doesn’t taste really any diffrent than beef and we can get close to 500 lbs of meat for less than $100(hunting tags, bags, etc) and know that it is grass fed meat The only “meat” we buy from the store is shrimp, I can’t imagine buying the hamburger that is commercially processed! And butchering a beef or deer really isn’t that difficult, and it is good for the kids to know where their food comes from.

  6. I like to make pepper steak with round steak. You can make it with cube steak too, it’s so good!

  7. maren says:

    I found this snopes article to be interesting regarding the meat picture: I originally saw the picture floating around facebook as chicken and checked it out– Regardless, it does help you think about what you eat! And good idea about the fourth of a cow route!

  8. jennifer says:

    Just so you know, that pink slim is ice cream – not meat. It was a FAKE PICTURE that has been around the internet for a long time. But it is NOT MEAT.

    Now – that doesn’t mean that meat that is fast food joints is probably not, well, all that much meat – but it certainly isn’t that picture.

    Don’t be fooled. 🙂

  9. Crystal says:

    I grew up in the country where we had 10-20 cows at any given time, and I did sheep in 4H, and my brothers always killed at least one deer a year. We often bought a pig at the 4H fair and had fresh eggs from our neighbor, in addition to our giant garden. I’ll never forget standing in the beef aisle right after returning from our honeymoon. The packages said ground beef, but it just didn’t look ground beef to me! It looked WAY different than the stuff I had grown up eating! So I called my mom and asked her about the strange color, and what did all those funny numbers mean? “Well, it’s been many years since I’ve bought beef from a store,” she said, “but I think it’s the fat content.” I was in shock — this beef had FAT?!?! Ours from our home never did! Oh, such naive innocence. 🙂 P.S. From then on, whenever we made the 1,000-mile trip home, I made sure to pack a cooloer and fill it with beef from my parents’ freezer! I’m spoiled.

  10. Jess B says:

    We have a friend that raises Longhorn cattle, so we try and get meat from him when he butchers. LOVE having a freezer full of beef. My hubby hunts, too so usually there’s some venison in there, also.

    Here’s my fave recipe for round steak. I have also made this with boneless “country ribs” and shredded the meat instead of cubing it and that works great, too!

  11. Katie says:

    My husband’s family all purchase a portion of a cow. We get a half. We get together about three weekends in late winter/early spring and process the meet. I have meat issues (it freaks me out), so this has been a new thing for me. But, I now know where all my meat is coming from, my husband directs the cutting and packaging of roasts, steaks, etc., and we trim all fat off of the meat that we use for ground beef.

  12. We’ve thought about purchasing part of a cow and I think we will seriously look into it this year. Thankfully we have 2 chest freezers…need to clear one out to make room!

  13. Charmaine says:

    Hamburger meat is often contaminated by meat by-products, insect parts and anything that should get in the grinder. I prefer a steak or roast any day. I also avoid chicken nuggats for the same reason.

  14. Stephanie says:

    As a beef farmers daughter, let me say….. THANK YOU, for this post!!

  15. Oh, dear…I had no idea what I’ve been missing being away from home. This is the first I’ve heard of pink slime. GROSS!!

  16. JessieLeigh says:

    I have been on the hunt to buy half a side of beef for a couple years now and the lowest price I could find was $6.75/lb around here. 🙁 (We’re not known for our beef cattle in Connecticut.) I just can’t make those numbers work in our budget. I’ve had to make do with having roasts ground in the store so I at least know they don’t have as much filler. Would LOVE to buy part of a cow at some point, though!

  17. Hey Jen! Thanks for the post promoting buying beef from a farmer! I’m responsible for ‘pimping the cows” (marketing our freezer beef) sales and would love to link to your post! Here is our farm website for those interested in the Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Dayton, Louisville, Lexington, Columbus area.

    Your sons are adorable by the way! I have three but different ages.

    Sherry ~ City Chic on a Farm

  18. We have bought a half a cow a few times and been thrilled with it. I can’t imagine going back to grocery store beef. And it is so convenient to have your freezer stocked so you don’t have to shop as often. We also order chickens in bulk from a local farm. I get 10 at a time and freeze them and defrost as needed.

  19. Cindy Robinson says:

    Thanks Jen for posting this – I grew up on a farm, so very use to very lean meat. Now we purchase what beef, pork, and chickens we need from our local Hutterite Colony. I also have a hunter in the household so our freezer is stocked with deer, elk, pheasant and fish. If I do have to buy hamburger it just grosses me out when you fry it and see all of the liquid that comes out of it. It is so nice to see all of the comments from people that do butcher their own meat or buy from a local farmer.
    Love reading about your boys – I run an in-home daycare, so I can relate to a lot of what you are blogging about with the boys. Keep up the good job that you and Brad are doing on raising them!!!

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  21. We cow-pooled with Becky last year and loved it! My only problem was there were pieces of meats I had NO idea what to do with. So I had to do a lot of recipe research–or I’d just throw it in the crockpot! 😉

    Of course, then our electricity went off and I didn’t check on our freezer until like 3 days later and every bit of it was melted and the freezer was full of blood. So. That was awesome.


  22. Ermintrude says:

    Home Grown Cow is an on-line farmers’ market for meat, poultry, and cheese. You can find a farm on this web site to sell you whatever amount of meat you would like. Once you buy your meat this way, you won’t believe you waited so long. Thanks Jen for sharing this great money saving and tasty tip!

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