Butchering Beef

Why Butchering Beef Yourself is a Good Idea

Butchering beef yourself—as opposed to letting the supermarket butcher do it—can be a great way to trim a few bucks off the bottom line on your grocery receipt.  It’s not that difficult to do and you definitely don’t need to have gone to culinary school in successfully trim a Chateaubriand.  All you need is a nice sharp knife and the will to use it.  If you have carved the Thanksgiving turkey, then you can definitely handle this procedure.

Of course, one of the first questions you might ask is why you want to butcher your own beef.  After all, isn’t it just handier and more convenient to let the professionals at the supermarket do it?

There are actually several reasons why you might consider butchering beef at home.  First, is the cost issue that I alluded to before.  Any time that you add a step to a process or have any kind of labor performed in the packaging of a product, you can bet that the supermarket will find a way of not only charging you, but also overcharging you.  It is just like when you buy a series of individually wrapped snacks so that you can just drop one in your kid’s lunch.  You pay a little extra for the convenience.  If you actually stop to consider how much extra, you might quickly realize that it is much cheaper just to buy the regular package and portion out the lunch snacks with your own plastic bags.

Furthermore, the companies have found ways to get a little bit extra out of your wallet at every turn.  They want you buy more than you intend to or have things not quite work out so that you need to make another trip to the supermarket.  That is why, for example, you get packages of eight hot dogs, but bags of six buns.  They count either on you having to buy more hot dogs or for some of the buns to go bad.  That way you have to buy more than one package (they would love it you bought four packages of buns and three of hotdogs).  Similarly, if you have ever asked for a pound of anything—you will notice that almost invariably the server will give you a little over a pound and ask you if that is “okay.”  Don’t let them fool you—they train them to do exactly this, because more often than not, people will just say “sure, why not,” and thus help the supermarket increase their bottom line.

It is the same with steaks.  They cut them to be just a little too small in the small packages and too big in the big ones.  They study this carefully in order to maximize profits.  Therefore, buying and butchering beef at home lets you take control of the process and avoid these kinds of scams.

Yet another reason why butchering beef yourself is a good idea is because of health concerns.  Getting too much red meat is bad for you.  Therefore, if you can limit this in part by cutting a leaner steak, you can really help improve heart health in subtle ways.  Most portions that you get pre-cut tend to be thicker and have more fat than they need to have.  This makes it harder to cook thoroughly.  It also makes it just generally less healthy.

A thin cut steak with the fat carefully excised can help you keep your loved ones healthy when it comes to their tickers.

Finally, one last reason to cut it yourself is that it decreases one of the steps in the process.  Your meat already goes through many steps from the farm until it arrives at your dinner table.  It goes from the farm to the slaughterhouse to the processing plant.  Each step of the way is yet another opportunity for infection.  One of the best ways to decrease the chances of this is to get your meat directly from a farmer or, if you do go to the supermarket, get one of the bigger shanks that you can cut up yourself.  That way you avoid the meat being tampered with at the supermarket itself, the last stage at which it could be contaminated.

Although it is a little extra work butchering your own meat, you might find that in these tough times it is well worth it.