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Good Meat BreakdownBulk BuyingPrepare to Buy in Bulk

How much meat should I get?

Calculate your weekly meat consumption to determine which bulk buying share is right for you.

The amount of meat you might buy for a year depends on your household size and your eating habits. Does your table include six voracious meat eaters? Are you a couple that prefers pork over anything else? Do you grill sausages and barbecue pulled pork all summer, but braise beef and roast lamb leg in the winter?

Consider your household eating habits carefully and, for those first-timers venturing into bulk meat buying, err on the side of less meat for your inaugural adventure. It’s better to run out of freezer meat than end up with an unusable surplus.

Questions to ask yourself:

Informed with some smart guesstimates, follow this approach to calculate your yearly needs for each type of meat you plan to buy. After you have figured out your yearly average, refer to the meat yield table and graphics below to determine what carcass share most likely suits your household.

  • How many meat-eaters are in your household?
  • How much meat, on average, does each person eat per meal? This is known as your “average portion size per person.” Remember that a meat-centric dish like steaks of burgers might mean 6 to 8 ounces per serving. But dishes where meat is the accent, like braised sauces and pasta dishes, might mean a bit less.
  • How many meals per week include meat? This number may be different for beef, pork, lamb or goat.
  • Multiply: (Number of Meat-Eaters) x (Average Portion Size) x (Meals Per Week) = Your Weekly Consumption. Now take Your Weekly Consumption and multiply it by 52 (weeks in the year) and you will get a rough estimate for how much meat you eat per year. This number will correlate with the boneless meat yield numbers in the table below.

Keep in mind that the numbers you calculate are helpful estimates. You will learn a lot about your household eating habits after your first year spent eating from the freezer. Furthermore, when you commit to buying an animal share from a producer, the amount of meat, though somewhat predictable, will be a bit different every time. This is because you are reserving a portion of an actual carcass and those animals grow differently from year to year. In the table below we provide a predictable range for each species and share size, but confirm with the producer what their range is before you commit.

Now that you know how much meat you eat, it's time to figure out which meat share is right for you. First, let's familiarize you with a couple of terms.

Not sure if you're ready to buy in bulk? Read our article, "Bulk Buying From Farmers: A Quick Summary."

Carcass weight

Livestock weights are measured at two key points: while the animal is alive, known as live weight, and after the animal is slaughtered, chilled, and ready to be butchered, known as carcass weight. Removing the blood, hide, head, feet, and organs make for a dramatic difference between these two weights. The carcass weight can be anywhere from 50% – 70% of the live weight, depending on species, age, how much they had to eat, and even cleanliness. If you are charged by carcass weight, the price per pound will be higher than if you are charged by live weight.

Edible meat yield

The weight of what you will take home will be less than the total carcass weight that you paid for. During the butchering process, inedible parts are trimmed away. This includes bones, glands, fat, and bits of unpalatable meat. The total weight of meat after all bones and inedible trim is removed is called the boneless meat yield or edible meat yield. This is often around 65% of the carcass weight. If you choose to include bone-in steaks or other bone-in cuts with your order, your take-home weight will be higher, but keep in mind that the edible meat yield stays the same since no one is eating those bones (except maybe the dog).

How much freezer space do I need if I’m buying in bulk from a farmer?

Want to learn more about edible meat yield? Select a species below to learn more.

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