Filling a Freezer: Family Farm Beef Purchase

I have spent decades supporting Farm Aid. I shop farmers’ markets in the summers and, for the most part, keep little processed food in the freezers. However, even with feeding three hungry boys, I had yet to purchase a bulk meat order from a family farm. Over the course of this pandemic of worrying about food shortages and seeing empty shelves at Costco, the time felt right to make the commitment.

Following Farm Aid in 2015 in Chicago, I had bookmarked a handful of smaller, family farms in the Illinois and Wisconsin area. I was determined to start shopping locally and farm fresh. While I made some changes to my purchasing habits (organic meats, no processed foods, farmers markets) I still hadn’t make the leap to larger orders.

Then 2020 happened.

Unless you’re living under a rock, covered in dirt without wifi, the start of this year was madness and has continued with one twist and turn after another. Once the Covid-19 virus hit, and the toilet paper and paper towels ran out, the next thing missing at Costco was meat. It was gone. All of it. Three rows of coolers empty.

Thankfully, I generally keep my freezer stocked with ground beef, chicken, and occasionally pork from Costco. The first empty shelves of meat didn’t rattle me too much, but then over the next month, we really didn’t have the options we were used to. Time to make some changes in how I shopped.

I turned to my bookmarks from the family farms and started researching all of them again. I kept going back to the location, family farm history, and what they had to offer. With the encouragement of my husband to order what looked good, I took the leap and placed an order for a 1/4 of beef.

Ordering Online

I selected a family farm in Brodhead, Wisconsin called Riemer Family Farm. They have been around since 1927 and offer 100% grass-fed beef and lamb, and pastured pork, chicken, and turkey. While their online ordering is super simple – I did reach out directly to order my 1/4 beef as a special order. They were amazing and answered all my questions. Once my order was ready, I had the breakdown of what I was going to stock my freezer with:

  • Ground Beef  (40 1lb packages!)
  • Ground Round (5 1lb packages!)
  • Soup Bone (4 packages)
  • NY Strip Steak (2 packages, 2 steaks each)
  • Rib Eye Steak (2 packages, 2 steaks each)
  • Sirloin Tip Steak (2 packages, 2 steaks each)
  • Tenderloin (2 packages, 2 steaks each)
  • Rump Roast (2 packages)
  • Chuck Roast (2 packages)
  • Cube Steak (2 packages)
  • 1/3 lb Ground Patties (2 packages, 2 patties each)
  • 1/4 lb Ground Patties (2 packages, 2 patties each)
  • Ground Speciality Patties (2 packages, 2 patties each) 
  • Sirloin Steak (2 packages)
  • Ribs (4 packages)

I had no idea what this would look like in person, but I knew that once it was all unpacked, I would receive about 90+ lbs of beef for under $800.

Pick Up or Delivery

One of the main reasons I wanted to support a local farm was to know where my food was coming from. Best way to do that was to pick it up!

Currently, their pick up day is Thursday afternoons from 4-6pm. This made it even better as I was able to drive up there with my youngest after work. We made the evening out of it, listening to music, chatting and grabbing dinner on the road.

I didn’t know what to expect on the size of my order, but pleasantly surprised that they easily fit into three coolers I had brought (I even had a few more tucked in the front of the van just in case). Most items were wrapped in paper and still packed nicely together.

Round trip it took us just over three hours, and after being stuck in the house for months, it was a great to just drive!

The other option is having the order home-delivered. Their service area for delivery is throughout the Upper Midwest including Minneapolis, Madison, the Upper Peninsula, Des Moines, Milwaukee, Green Bay, Chicago, Indiana, Ohio, and more. Hopefully, you are in their delivery area as well!

This week, we have a 20 lb order of pork being delivered by overnight FedEx. All orders over $165 include delivery. I expect it to be in a smaller cube-sized box and will have ample room in our freezer for it! I’m already planning a breakfast of bacon and eggs this weekend!

Taste Test

Shortly after our purchase, I decided to have our first meal to be steaks. I took out the one package of tenderloins and two packages of sirloin steak (I thought they looked small….they weren’t).

I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Dinner was perfect. It truly tasted like my childhood memories of steaks grilled by my dad. Since we had leftovers (the sirloin steaks were bigger than I expected and no one left the table hungry), we had steak fajita bowls the next night. 

Should you order?

YES!

You should do this if you have the means, the freezer storage, and would love to know where the food on the table actually comes from.

We are hoping that the bulk of our freezer will last us well to the end of the year. Between occasional dinners out, our meatless favorite dishes, plus added purchases of pork and chicken, we feel our dinner menus will be easy to write each week!

Let me know if you try Riemer’s Farm or another local family farm (for all those outside of the Midwest!

Support family farms! Happy cooking & grilling!

32 thoughts on “Filling a Freezer: Family Farm Beef Purchase

  • July 6, 2020 at 11:50
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    I don’t eat meat, except fish, but I have the utmost respect for people who raise grass-fed and pastured animals. I applaud you for supporting this business and sharing the information here. It’s a win-win for everyone (if they have the freezer space)!

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    • July 6, 2020 at 20:31
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      They are partnering with a fish supplier as well – and have seen others with family fisheries to support – you should check those out!

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  • July 6, 2020 at 12:39
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    I want to do this too but FL beef is meh … and shipping it is ridiculous! I think as more farms come online prices will hopefully adjust but you are lucky you are able to do this!

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  • July 6, 2020 at 14:04
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    I would love to do this! Great way to save money and time, and the benefits for having meat in your freezer that you know where it is coming from!

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  • July 6, 2020 at 16:57
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    Ok this is so inspiring. We have a farm within driving distance that Iโ€™ve been wanting to check out. Knowing where your food comes from appeals to me!

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    • July 6, 2020 at 20:30
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      It has been great – sad I didn’t do it sooner!

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  • July 6, 2020 at 18:10
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    It sounds like this would fit in perfectly with the homesteading lifestyle we plan to move to. Thanks for the information.

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  • July 6, 2020 at 19:29
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    Thanks for sharing, this dinner looks awesome

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  • July 6, 2020 at 20:31
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    Wow! That makes me wish I lived closer to Chicago!

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  • July 6, 2020 at 21:39
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    I have been wanting to do this for years and years, but never have. You may have given me the motivation to finally go through with it.

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    • July 11, 2020 at 19:50
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      I wish I hadn’t waited for so long!

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  • July 6, 2020 at 21:46
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    Once our renos are complete and I can get a freezer (those are all sold out due to COVID), I will look into purchasing bulk organic meat. We have tried some local farms for small purchases, and what a difference in taste!! Not to mention… we got to farm markets already, so supporting local is always good!

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  • July 7, 2020 at 09:17
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    Iโ€™m a sucker for some meat and love purchasing locally when I can. Glad you guys are stocked up!

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  • July 7, 2020 at 11:08
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    there has never been a better time than to “bring it home” and support the local grower. glad you’ve found an option that works for you.

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  • July 7, 2020 at 11:15
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    Thank for the ideas. We do have a freezer so this is something we can explore.

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  • July 7, 2020 at 12:13
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    YES GIRL!!! We get a 1.4 cow every year and LOVE it! I love your breakdown, I pinned and shared on Facebook! Good job!

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  • July 7, 2020 at 12:29
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    Excellent, eating and shopping local is key to eating healthy. Way to go.

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  • July 7, 2020 at 13:49
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    I had no idea you could order meat online like this!

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  • July 7, 2020 at 15:20
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    I have been thinking about doing this too! When meat was not accessible I thought this would be perfect!

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  • July 7, 2020 at 15:50
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    This is a great idea! I love having my freezer well stocked with meat. So I completely agree!

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  • July 7, 2020 at 15:55
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    Supporting local business especially during this time is very important. And I salute you for that. I don’t eat meat but the idea that you save money is great!

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  • July 7, 2020 at 17:37
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    We ended up doing this too through a local place here in CO. It was great!

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  • July 7, 2020 at 18:07
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    I completely agree with supporting family farms (so important). Grass-fed beef is SO much healthier. It’s all we buy.

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    • July 11, 2020 at 19:49
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      It’s so much tastier – I was really impressed by how good everything is!

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  • July 7, 2020 at 18:28
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    We have local farms near us that we like to support at the weekly farmers market.

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  • July 8, 2020 at 07:40
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    YES! Support the farmers of our local communities! 4-H animal auctions, etc.

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  • July 8, 2020 at 17:34
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    This is amazing! Growing up, both of my parents had a separate deep freezer stocked all the time. I could make it work in my apartment, but it definitely isn’t as ideal as someone with a house or a garage. We do shop at Costco though and will stock up on meats and fill our freezer with different kinds. That way our weekly grocery shopping we’re just buying fresh sides.

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  • July 9, 2020 at 17:09
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    Looks amazing and I love a full freezer. Probably my favorite are your taste-testing pictures! Yum

    Reply

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