Thursday, 16 April 2015

Best prices for organic and grass fed meat

I was raised in the countryside and my dad worked on a farm.  His attitude was if you ate meat you should understand how the animal lived (and died).  However it is easy in the age of supermarkets to divorce ourselves from this.  Certainly a few years ago I would have opted for chicken breasts instead of a chicken, unsure of how to deal with a whole bird and not having a clue what to do with the carcass. I would have bought ready prepped stewing steak from Sainsbury's rather than brave going into a butchers and ordering cheek, oxtail or ribs!

Over the last few years I have moved back towards  'nose to tail' eating - it makes sense financially and nutritionally and cheaper cuts are often more flavoursome.  Beef cheek, neck of lamb and oxtail are all fantastic when slow-cooked.   I am still learning to love offal - I can't bear the smell of kidneys and I am not brave enough to introduce heart but I am becoming a fan of liver, especially chicken liver pate.

How an animal is treated and what it eats is not just an ethical question.  Undoubtedly grass-fed, well hung and organic meat tastes better.  Organic meat means the animals have not been fed GM food.  Grass fed animals also will have a higher ratio of omega 3's (which is naturally present in grass and seaweed).  

However there is no doubt that this type of meat is more expensive and can be trickier to source. Local butchers are often a good source of less intensively reared meat but may not offer organic or free range and its not always possible to get to a farmer's market.  Some supermarkets such as Sainsburys and Ocado have an okay organic selection and I am not adverse to buying the odd thing there but I think if I am paying top whack (and they may well charge more than going direct!) I might as well buy it from a farm so it hasn't been sitting in plastic under the supermarket lights.   Also, whilst supermarkets will offer the ubiqitous mince, joints and bacon they normally don't offer the cheaper cuts such as beef brisket, cheek, oxtail, livers, wings or bones for stock which allow money to go further.  An added bonus is that if you buy direct the farmer will make the profit, not the supermarket.

We did find we needed to buy a second freezer so that we could order in bulk (as well as make meals up in advance) but this is cost effective in the long run as it allows us to make the most of special offers or minimum orders.  

I tend to use different suppliers depending on what cuts of meat I need but I decided to spend a few hours comparing prices on my regular purchases (including favourites with small children such as chicken, sausages and mince). I also wanted to know what speciality products different suppliers can offer (including liver, bones for stock etc).   

My husband raises his eyebrows at this kind of research as he thinks I am OCD but when you are ordering meat in large quantities it is worth shopping around. So hopefully this will save you guys a couple of hours of your life! 

The suppliers I am comparing are:

Graig Farm  (Organic and  free range meat ) 
Abel and Cole  (Organic and free range meat) 
Green Pasture Farms (free range) 
Devon Rose (free Range)

Here are some more specialised products that are not offered by every supplier: 

Organic chicken carcasses, lamb and beef bones 
If you are making stock and soup then its unlikely you will be able to manage using just the bones from existing meals.   I would try to buy organic as there is evidence any toxins from the animal would be stored in the bones and there is not a great deal of difference in price.  
Chicken carcasses are available from Graig Farm (£2.62 a carcass) and Abel and Cole (£2.25 a carcass). A kilo of chicken carcasses or bones is £3.98 from Eversfield
Stock bones are also available from Graig Farm for £3.48 a kilo 

Beef dripping
We use this extensively in cooking as it remains stable at high heat so good for chips, fish-bites, coated chicken, casseroles, etc. I have only ever managed to source grass fed.  Devon Rose have it at £1.45 for 200g, Green Pasture Farms at £3 for 400g and Roaming Rooster also sell it through shops and online.   

Chicken livers
Fantastic as a quick meal or for making pate.  Always buy organic liver to avoid toxins that may be stored in this part of the animal's body.  You can get these from Graig Farm for £3.09 for approx 225g or Eversfield for £4.94 for 500g.

Nitrate free bacon
Ocado sell Laverstoke park nitrate free bacon but it is an eye watering £30.10 a kilo meaning around £5-£6 a pack.  Devon Rose offer a wide variety of free-range nitrate free bacon at a lower price of 14.50 a kilo (around £2.90 for a pack) 

All meat sausages
I am not a fan of 'gluten free' sausages from supermarkets as they often have nasty fillers, sugars etc.  Even gluten free ones sold online can contain ingredients that are a struggle for people sensitive to grains. I look for sausages labelled all meat or 'SCD compliant'.  Graig Farm offer Boerwurst and a classic pork sausage for £3.74 and £3.42 respectively (225g).  Devon Rose have a good range of SCD compliant sausages starting at £3.83 for 400g.  Eversfield offer sausages with just vegetable flakes but I need to check this out further before recommending. 

Cooking chorizo (milk free)
I found this by accident at Riverford and at £4.95 for 300g its a pricey product but well worth it if you have a favourite recipe that demands Chorizo and you want to avoid the low quality products offered at supermarkets that will also contain milk. 

Game and duck
All the suppliers can offer wild game.  Graig Farm offer additive free duck and Abel and Cole have a very reasonable Wild Rabbit at £5.99 ( although I think I would have to gloss over the origin of that meat with the 8 year old!)

Price comparison chart 

Bear in mind prices can always change but this should give you an idea of who offers what at what price.  For each product I have highlighted the cheapest supplier.  If there is a choice of weights I have gone with the one most suited to a family of 3/4.   (Excuse the formatting but I have lost the will to live trying to do this on a blogger platform!!)

Beef silverside 
Whole chicken
Chicken wings
Chicken thighs
Pork mince
Beef mince
Lamb  mince 

Graig Farm
 £12.89 (1.5 kg )
(a kilo)
  £12.80 (800g)
 £5.64 (450g)
 £8.54 (450g)

 £13.98 (1kg)
 £14.54 (1.7 kg)
(a kilo)
(with drumsticks)(550g)

 £9.42 (a kilo)
 £9.48 (a kilo)
(a kilo)
(1 kg)


Abel and Cole
(1.4 kg) 
(a kilo) 

£6.25 (400g)


Green Pasture Farms


£2.50 (220g)
Graig Farm
£11.21 (1.5 kg)
 £6.29 (800g)

Abel and Cole
£8.99 (1.5kg)
(a kilo) 

 £5.25 (650g)
£4.49 (500g)
Devon Rose
 £4.17 (400g)

£4.13 (400g)
£5.12 (300g)


  1. Love this post Tracy, I'm very happy to indulge and take advantage of your OCD ;D

    I like Graig's and also these guys A local family run butcher based at Bury market who supplies Grass Fed meat. They'll also deliver to your door and do great bulk buys.

  2. Thanks for creating - very useful :)

  3. We live in USA, we can't find buyers for our 100% USDA certified black Angus grass fed beef, locally(we don't currently ship,sorry). Were not sure if people don't care to eat better or have enough of their own food. We sell our ground beef for $4.99 lb. so it's not over what the market will bare...