The publications in this collection do
not reflect current scientific knowledge
or recommendations. These texts
represent the historic publishing
record of the Institute for Food and
Agricultural Sciences and should be
used only to trace the historic work of
the Institute and its staff. Current IFAS
research may be found on the
Electronic Data Information Source
site maintained by the Florida
Cooperative Extension Service.
Copyright 2005, Board of Trustees, University
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580 pound beef carcass.
(1) One side weighs 290 pounds.
(2) 290 pound side-25 percent cutting loss
leaves 217 pounds.
(3) 217 pounds packaged beef @ $156.50 = 73
,cents per pound.
7. Consider price per pound, amount of waste
purchased, cost of cutting, packaging and quick
freezing and the true cost based on lean edible
Sources of Additional Information
1. "USDA Yield Grades for Beef", USDA Market-
ing Bulletin #45. July, 1968.
2. "How to Buy Beef Steaks", Consumer &
Marketing Service, Home & Garden Bulletin
#145. February, 1968.
3. "Steers, Steaks and Stores", Animal Science
Fact Sheet No. 2, Florida Agricultural Ex-
4. "Basic Guide for Cost Per Meat Serving", Cir-
cular 244, Florida Agricultural Extension Serv-
5. "Corned Beef the Easy Way", Circular 260,
Florida Agricultural Extension Service.
This public document was promulgated at an
annual cost of $244.00, or 4.9 cents per copy
to inform the public about buying beef for
COOPERATIVEE EXTENSION WORK IN \(RI(lCULTURE AND I[OME E(CON(I)MI(S
(A>t ,,f M,,.>,F ,Ira e ;0(}, 191.1,
J-, N ii, IN N
Single copies free to residents of Florida. Bulk rates
available upon request. Please submit detliils on
request to Chairman, Editorial Department, Institute
of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of
Florida, Gainesville, Florida :2611.
Florida Cooperative Extension Service
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
University of Florida, Gainesville
Buying Beef for the Freezer
Robert L. Reddish*
Buying beef for the family is important for two
major reasons-cost and the eating enjoyment it
may or may not produce.
Many questions arise and the answers may
vary depending upon the specific conditions.
Some of the questions and answers you will
need to consider before purchasing beef are:
Is it wise to buy a side or quarter of beef to be cut,
packaged and quick frozen for freezer storage?
Consider these factors before deciding:
The availability of beef cuts you serve most
Amount of freezer space available for beef
The kind of service available in the commu-
nity for cutting, packaging and quick freezing
The advantage of buying beef in quantity
rather than day to day or week to week pur-
Amount of money you can safely invest in one
kind of meat.
Total cost and total amount saved by buying
a large quantity of beef.
What does the beef cost when you buy a side of beef?
The total cost of a side of beef is the cost of the
full side (one hindquarter and one forequarter),
plus the cost of cutting, packaging and quick
freezing. If the side weighs 300 pounds, you pay
for 300 pounds of beef and for 300 pounds of pro-
You can expect 20 to 30 percent loss in cutting,
trimming, waste bone and fat. It may be more.
How much steak, roast and more expensive cuts will
the side yield?
According to the USDA you can expect the beef
*Extension Meats Specialist
side to yield approximately 25) percent steaks, 25
percent roasts, 25 percent ground oeefl and stew
nlieit and 25 I'ece'nt waste.
Is it cheaper to buy sides, quarter, or wholesale cuts?
This answer depends a great deal on the 'tlls
If you Iuse ai greatt deall of groIund beef', then
forequarter (wholesale chitucks and plates or leanl
beef triminings) is the best buy.
For steaks and a few Ioasts, choose the hhind-
The wholesale of full beef loin furnishes practi-
cally all steaks while rib roasts and ptlot roasts
can lhe obtained in sufficient quantities from a fore-
Is it cheaper to buy retail cuts at the meat market and
freeze them or is it cheaper to buy beef sides or
Advantages of buying retail cuts for freezing
1. It is easier to get an assortment of beef cuts
you prefer without buying cuts you seldom or
2. The investment is smaller since the storage
period is for a shorter time.
3. Many times retail beef cuts sell as "specials"
at near or below the actual cost price.
Since retail cuts are not packaged for freezing,
they need to be packaged properly for freezing.
Advantages of buying a whole side or quarter of
1. Roasts and steaks can be cut to the desired
weight and thickness.
2. The food budget can be planned for a longer
period since the actual meat costs are known.
3. Many trips to the market for purchasing meat
can be eliminated.
You can compare costs of retail cuts and beef
sides by completing the following tables using local
How much should the retail cuts cost if I buy a side of
USDA choice beef?
If tIhe 30()0 poulidl Ibee(' Sid is priced' :t 6(; (entc s
per Ipo(III inchiill'g Iprocessing, the following ex-
ample shows I'etlil cuts average approxiImately
75 cents per pound :
(I) ()in side weighs ()() po()unds (o ) (; (c('its )per
pound 1 $168.0.
(2) ; ()00 pound sil-- 25 percent i cu ( ing loss
lea\'es 22 pounds Ipackatged ieiat (>0()0 75
(3) 225 pounds packaged leel" :it, : total cost of"
$1(8.0(0 .7166 per pound. .7.16(;6 x 225
Therefore, ;a :0(0 I)oulnd lieef side :ia, 56 cents per
pound costs $16i(8.()0. A cutting loss of 75 pounds
reduces tile packaged meat yield to 225 pounds
with an original cost of $168.00 or about 75 cents
How long can beef be stored safely at 0F.
temperature or below?
Beef cuts, properly packaged 9 months
Ground beef 4 months
Beef liver and beef heart 3 months
Beef should be stored for a relatively short
Longer storage periods contribute to freezer
burn, dehydration, rancidity, shrinkage and
broken packages-sacrificing quality and quantity.
Shorter storage periods reduce storage in-
Therefore, since the home-raised beef averages
73 cents per pound, only beef sides or the same
retail cuts at less than 73 cents per pound would
Rules for Buying Beef
1. Buy from a dependable supplier. Choose a
firm which sells the grade, weight and amounts
of beef you prefer.
2. Buy inspected beef. The inspection shield and
establishment nllumber ;re easily
:'. Poly ITS)A graded lee or pacl,
Inev'ing your m parlicil;lr specific;
1. I'ulrchl( ise only the a.i ioulint of I
Some coiisimiers prefer a carcau
lheel', yet othe lrs feel i quarter
s;le( (c1ut is enough.
5. Choose heef suitiled .> your lpu
sc(111( f:mnilies 'preer r(asts, s
roasts, others are m()ore interest
1eef and stew hleef. If all the
c('arcass are lnot used, the next
should include only those which
6. The amount of refrigeration a1i(
available is a very inportalit co
Which is cheaper-slaughter home proc
a side of beef or buy retail cuts?
If the home-raised beef is suit.
and steaks, weighs approximately
alive and grades USDA Good or C
lowing comparison can be made.
(1) Beef is selling for 25 cents per
(2) A 1000 pound steer is worth
1000 = $250.00.
(3) If this steer dresses 58 perc
1000) yields a carcass weighir
the cost is $250 for the carcass.
(4) The carcass at $250 + $5.00 s!
$58.00 cutting, packaging and
= $313.00-the cost of a procc
(5) Each side cut, packaged and
should cost $156.50.
(6) The home-raised beef side
pounds) would cost $156.50.
If comparable or better beef coulc
for less than $156.50 for a 290 pounc
be more profitable to sell the home
and buy retail beef.
To determine if the home-raised 1
than buying retail cuts, use yield fi
1 and figure the total retail value o