Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Local & Organic Challenge: Field Notes #2

When we started this Local & Organic Challenge back in February, I thought we might be lucky to figure out how to *occasionally* include a small amount of sustainably-raised meat in our $400-a-month-for-four food budget. Although we don't eat much meat by most people's standards, the typical prices for meat produced on local family farms is a lot more than our budget can accommodate, even with our low meat consumption. So, as much as we might want to support local meat producers, I didn't think it was a very do-able option on our current food budget. This is one of those times I was glad to be proven wrong!

One of the things I always tell people who are trying to reduce their grocery bill is to constantly keep an eye out for new potential sources of food. You just never know what you might find! I've lived in this area for 20 years, and I am still uncovering new and exciting food options on a regular basis. As it happened, not long after I started this challenge I heard about VG Meats, an award-winning local family farm-to-fork meat operation. They sounded so fantastic I almost didn't bother to check them out as I was pretty sure their prices would be too high for us to consider. Thank goodness I decided to investigate further, as I'm thrilled to report that not only are their products fantastic, their prices are, too!

They offer a wide variety of different products and purchasing options. If you want to buy half a side of beef, or a whole pig, you can do that. You can also buy their products by the 10 lb box, or in smaller amounts at their two stores (in Simcoe and Stoney Creek). Another option, the one we chose, was to buy one of their set Freezer Special packages

The package we chose included 80 pounds of meat, which is an awful lot when you see it all lined up on your counter! I was a bit worried we wouldn't get it all in our freezer, but we did manage to pack it all in there with a bit of space to spare.

We got:
20 pounds of chicken legs
10 pounds of blade steak
30 pounds of ground beef
10 pounds of pork butt chops
10 pounds of pork riblets

for the grand total of $142.20

No, that's not a typo. I told you their prices were fantastic! By buying this 80 pound bulk package, we saved about $75 compared to purchasing each of the items in individual 10 pound boxes (although, frankly, even with the extra $75, it would still be a pretty great deal!)

We've had a chance to sample a little bit of everything and are *very* pleased with it all. It really is a good thing their prices are so great, I don't think I will be able to go back to grocery store meat after tasting this stuff!

 Steaks on the grill for Father's Day

I expect the beef will last us about 7-8 months and the pork and chicken about 4-5 months, so we are well stocked with meat until the fall. Of course I will have to resist the temptation to throw some of this wonderful meat on the barbecue every day, but as long as we manage to stick to our normal levels of meat consumption, we shouldn't run out until apple-picking season.

Have you stumbled across a great deal on local food lately? If so, I'd love to hear about it!

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