Eating like a King without Spending like One

Organic, grass fed, all-natural, GMO free, free-range, farm-to-table…these are the catch phrases we’ve all heard. For quite some time, eating a diet like this was associated with pricey grocery bills, trendy and “hip” grocery stores, and generally reserved for people with upper incomes. Well this could not be further from the truth!

There are COUNTLESS articles on the internet which continue to regurgitate the same information on how to save money on food…grow your own food, plant a garden, plant trees, raise livestock, raise chickens, buy in bulk, blah blah blah blah…these are all well and good, but you already know these things. In addition to all of these things, we feed our family of three for a very minimal monthly “grocery budget,” and here’s how…

Buy meats from local farmers. Farmers markets are making a huge resurgence in America, even in large cities, and many of them feature all-natural, grass-fed meat products. Grass-fed, locally sourced beef in our area of Montana runs anywhere from $4-6 per pound…which sounds expensive…but you are not purchasing one or two items from the farmer…you are purchasing either a quarter, half, or WHOLE of beef! Every farmer we know will send your freshly purchased meat to a reputable local butcher and they will give you a large variety of beef cuts, not just ground…and then professionally air-seal the cuts to prevent spoiling and freezer burn. Suddenly, $4-6 per pound of all natural, grass-fed beef, professionally butchered and packaged, doesn’t sound so expensive after all…don’t believe me? Go to your local store and price beef at the meat counter which is certified organic, all-natural, grass-fed…exactly. For example, Costco (just like Sam’s Club), will sell all-natural, grass-fed GROUND beef for $4.25 per pound…just ground beef…not your awesomely delicious, thick steaks for your summer BBQ season or your cubed beef, perfect for those hearty cold weather stews we all enjoy during the snow season…

Now if you live in Montana, everyone hunts…and I mean everyone…and who wouldn’t want to with all the plentiful game and hunting seasons our beautiful Treasure State has to offer? Know your local hunting seasons. If you’re not a hunter, but enjoy providing meat for your family…START HUNTING! Or get to know someone who does…you can always barter with them for portions of their harvest or maybe even barter for those coveted “secret” hunting spots where your buddy always sees a world-record elk but finds every reason under the sun why he was unable to harvest that elk…you know the ones…

Harvesting your own wild game, if done legally, properly, ethically, and safely, is one of the most rewarding experiences life can offer. Long a staple of the American frontier, hunting popularity has declined as Americans urbanize themselves…hunting is a lost art…but why? You’ll question this too as you keep reading…

Lets break this down for the 2018 year…I purchased my annual Montana Hunting License and one elk tag, for $30 (Montana ROCKS!). With a “base license,” and one elk tag, I am allowed to harvest one bull elk during the 2018 season. Let’s break this down even further….

  • Average weight of dressed bull elk (cleaned, skinned, and prepped for butcher): 500 pounds
  • Average weight of boneless elk meat (butchered, cut, packaged and on your table): 250 pounds

What does this all mean you ask? Look at that math!!! If you have the skills, tools, equipment, time and means to process a bull elk by yourself, you’ve essentially provided your family 250 pounds of fresh, lean, all-natural meat for $30!!!!! If you pay a wild game processor, the price jumps up…but not significantly…on average in our area, an elk professionally processed, butchered, and packaged will run you about $175…so…$175 + $30 license and tag fees = $205. Still not overly convinced? Let’s do the per pound breakdown assuming all the same numbers above…

  • Self-process your elk harvest…250lbs / $30 = 12 CENTS PER POUND!!!!
  • Professional processing of your elk harvest…250lbs / $205 = 82 CENTS PER POUND!!!!

Keeping in mind costs vary from state to state, and of course your state will have different game animals, fees, and regulations…but overall how can you beat those types of prices for all-natural, grass-fed, wild game!?! The answer is, you can’t…

You can always trade and barter for meat too…for instance…if we harvest an elk & our neighbor is butchering a cow we could come to an agreement where we trade half the elk for half a cow. That way you have a nice variety of meats stocked up in your freezer and if you end up trading meat it would cost you even less! Bartering is as good as cash if you’re out in the country, especially in Montana. For the 2018 season, I have already bartered with my closest neighbor (“neighbor” in Montana means the next farm wayyyyyyy down the dirt road) for half of one of his Angus steers he will butcher this Fall. I gave up a cord of fire wood, which we have endless supplies of, and an old custom built roof rack for our farm truck…I didn’t spend a dime. Simple!

Buy your produce at the locals farmers market. As mentioned before, farmers markets are all across America, so it would be near impossible to not locate one within reasonable driving distance of where you live. Farmers markets are usually a very good value on exceedingly fresh, delicious fruits, vegetables and animal products. Think middle man…no shipper to pay, no grocery chain to pay…savings from farm-to-table passed on directly to you! And if your green thumb is a little less green these days…this is a very attractive option!

There are countless other ideas, and resources available on the internet, but we hope these little tidbits will motivate you to take a hard look at the food you eat, your monthly bill for said food, and the methods in which you can save quite a bit of the green stuff…which everyone loves!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *