Butcher Box

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sophie1
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Butcher Box

Post by sophie1 »

Anyone tried this service? It's a subscription for home delivery of grass fed/grass finished beef, heritage pork etc. Basically stuff you would normally get at farmer's markets.

The price for a Custom Box is $149/month including delivery. They give a range of 9-14 lbs per box; my sample first order plus their promotion of 2 lbs ground beef thrown in per box adds up to 13 lbs. That's $11.46/lb average, which is a screaming bargain compared to prices for grassfed meats in my area. It's also comparable to online places like US Wellness Meats.

On the negative side, the selection is not great. I guess they're concentrating on popular, high-margin items like steaks and pork chops. For example they don't sell liver, fresh ham, or pork shoulder, although maybe that has something to do with seasonality.
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tooluser
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Re: Butcher Box

Post by tooluser »

I am in Los Angeles and that price sounds comparable to local prices at the grocery stores here for grass-fed beef or lamb. There is some convenience in having things delivered, but also some savings in having the grocery store keep it until you need it.

The Mexican and other "ethnic" groceries often have different cuts of meat than the grocery stores, at very good prices, but are typically not organic/free range/grass-fed, or at least are not sold as such.

One of course always wonders whether one is buying the actual product that is stated on the label. Every few years the local news runs a story about how none of the fish is what it's sold as.
123
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Re: Butcher Box

Post by 123 »

I would not use them since the meat is always frozen and is shipped to the consumer. It just strikes me as two different areas of potential problems.

I found one line on their website about their beef sourcing somewhat disturbing "Their facilities are routinely inspected and approved by the USDA or a comparable agency." This indicates to me that the source of all their products may not be in the USA and the standards in other countries may be significantly different.
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Topic Author
sophie1
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Re: Butcher Box

Post by sophie1 »

Thanks for catching that. I did a bit more digging on the website. Their meats are sourced from the US, Canada, and Australia. Realize though, that there's a short list of countries approved to sell beef to the US (China is not among them), and your grocery is not required to label meats to indicate country of origin.

https://support.butcherbox.com/hc/en-us ... come-from-

Grocery beef labeled as "grass-fed" can still come from factory farms, because that label can be used to describe animals that are initially pastured and then finished in feedlots. That's what really got me interested in finding alternative meat sources. Unless the label says "grass-finished", you are still getting grain-fed beef.
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mhc
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Re: Butcher Box

Post by mhc »

I can get a quarter grass fed steer for about $5/lb. Buying a quarter may not work for all, but it is a lot cheaper than butcher box. It also requires you to have a deep freeze. I have a friend at work who works out the deal.

If you can find a rancher who raises quality beef and a good packing plant, then you may be able to do better.

I have never purchased a hog, only cattle.
daheld
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Re: Butcher Box

Post by daheld »

mhc wrote: Mon Sep 16, 2019 9:13 am I can get a quarter grass fed steer for about $5/lb. Buying a quarter may not work for all, but it is a lot cheaper than butcher box. It also requires you to have a deep freeze. I have a friend at work who works out the deal.

If you can find a rancher who raises quality beef and a good packing plant, then you may be able to do better.

I have never purchased a hog, only cattle.
This was going to be my advice as well.
ohai
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Re: Butcher Box

Post by ohai »

Do you already spend $150 a month on beef? If not, this "discount" price is still just a way to spend more money.
j0nnyg1984
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Re: Butcher Box

Post by j0nnyg1984 »

There is absolutely no way I would trust a service like this.

I have a wonderful butcher in town, family owned, been in business for something like 60 years. I go there a couple of times a month and get what I need.
stoptothink
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Re: Butcher Box

Post by stoptothink »

ohai wrote: Mon Sep 16, 2019 11:57 am Do you already spend $150 a month on beef? If not, this "discount" price is still just a way to spend more money.
These subscription boxes are a total mystery to me. My wife's friend gets ones for make-up, clothing, and fitness-related snacks; they send you a box of random stuff which you probably don't want and you pay like twice the retail price. And it's a hassle to end the subscription. How is this a thing?
barnaclebob
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Re: Butcher Box

Post by barnaclebob »

Unless the meat in the box is USDA graded you are probably not getting high quality cuts. Most people don't know what a good steak looks like and the one that is on the front page of their website is terrible looking, zero marbling.

I'm also skeptical of the "heritage pork" claim.
Jimmie
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Re: Butcher Box

Post by Jimmie »

stoptothink wrote: Tue Sep 17, 2019 10:37 am
ohai wrote: Mon Sep 16, 2019 11:57 am Do you already spend $150 a month on beef? If not, this "discount" price is still just a way to spend more money.
These subscription boxes are a total mystery to me. My wife's friend gets ones for make-up, clothing, and fitness-related snacks; they send you a box of random stuff which you probably don't want and you pay like twice the retail price. And it's a hassle to end the subscription. How is this a thing?
+1

Couldn't agree more. With online shopping, you can purchase any item out of billions of items available and have it on your doorstep in two days at the lowest price without changing out of your pajamas. And if you don't have pajamas, buy them online and have any style in any size or color and have them on your doorstep in two days. Don't have a doorstep? Well, never mind.
psteinx
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Re: Butcher Box

Post by psteinx »

There's probably a heavy psychological element to it.

If you go to the store and you see a decent cut of steak at $12/lb, that seems pricey. Maybe you buy a pound or two, maybe you don't. If you do buy, maybe you feel a little guilty about your purchase.

If you sign up for a subscription, then that creates separation between the payment and the receipt, and adds an element of "surprise!"

So you open your box, and now you've got like ELEVEN pounds of steak and other beef. A few of the cuts are novel to you, and the whole thing feels a little like a gift, a little like a surprise, and not a whole lot like spending $150 for a bunch of likely overpriced beef...
mlipps
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Re: Butcher Box

Post by mlipps »

I started out looking at the butcher box a couple years ago, but ended up buying a CSA subscription from a local meat farmer instead. Prices are comparable, quality is absolutely exceptional, and I feel good about spending some extra money to support local, sustainable meat production. I buy almost no meat at the grocery stores these days.
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Flobes
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Re: Butcher Box

Post by Flobes »

sophie1 wrote: Sun Sep 15, 2019 1:37 pm Anyone tried this service? It's a subscription for home delivery of grass fed/grass finished beef, heritage pork etc.
I am a Butcher Box customer.

Meats are high quality and very delicious. Customer service is excellent. There are “specials” periodically for a limited time; sometimes it’s special cuts, other times it’s special pricing; these are added to your box.

Subscription timing is totally flexible. While you sign up for every month or every other month, you can always change delivery date until whenever. I get @ 4 boxes/year.

FWIW I am also a Crowd Cow customer. They offer “know your farmer” options, as well as many more choices and cuts. They’ve also now just begun some subscriptions, but you can still order whatever you want, a la carte, whenever. Pricey, but great sales.

At both, no two boxes I order are ever the same. I’m always making particular choices in my cart, just as I would at the market.

For those of us who live in places where quality choices are limited, it’s a wonderful thing. Place an order, and a few days later it’s on the porch!
Topic Author
sophie1
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Re: Butcher Box

Post by sophie1 »

Just got my second Butcher box. I loaded it up with some very good special deals, which I think is the key to using this service. The meats have all been much better than anything I could find locally. Happy so far!

Definitely a great alternative for those of us who can't drive to a farm and pick up half a steer for the giant chest freezer in the basement.
csm
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Re: Butcher Box

Post by csm »

I just ordered my first Butcher Box so wondered if sophie1 and Flobes were still subscribing and happy. Or any other recent reviews.

I've put together a custom box with only the cuts I would select if I were shopping myself (either in person or online locally) and the price works out to less per serving than I know I spend now when buying at the supermarket or ordering for delivery from Whole Foods/Amazon. I've been focusing on only buying meat and poultry that is organic, grass-fed/finished, no antibiotics or growth hormones for a while now. I've signed up with the current Butcher Box offer of getting 2 lb. of ground beef free with each order for as long as I keep the subscription. I've set it to every 8 weeks and, like Flobes, may adjust that to fewer deliveries per year.

I'm curious to try the pork because I rarely eat it here, having been spoiled with some of the best pork in the world while living in Denmark for 30 years.

Local sourcing and buying larger quantities than this would not be an option because we're only two people, in a condo, and have limited freezer space. We also clean out our fridge / freezer and turn if off (leaving the doors open) whenever we travel for more than a few days (usually either a road trip in our motorhome or back to Denmark to visit family), so we would not want to stock up on more than we can eat before the next scheduled trip.
arf30
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Re: Butcher Box

Post by arf30 »

We subscribed to this for 3-4 months this past winter when it was hard to get meat due to the virus. When things settled down we canceled it - our local grocery stores were cheaper and higher quality. The cuts they sent also felt a little stingy size wise.
barnaclebob
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Re: Butcher Box

Post by barnaclebob »

If you aren't buying your meat from a person who actually cares for the animals they sell then its not equivalent to the farmers markets in my area.
wfrobinette
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Re: Butcher Box

Post by wfrobinette »

barnaclebob wrote: Tue Sep 17, 2019 11:01 am Unless the meat in the box is USDA graded you are probably not getting high quality cuts. Most people don't know what a good steak looks like and the one that is on the front page of their website is terrible looking, zero marbling.

I'm also skeptical of the "heritage pork" claim.
Marbling has nothing to do with the quality of 100% grass fed beef. Marbling comes from grain feeding which actually darn near kills the cow before it's slaughtered. Bovines are not designed to eat corn or other grains. The USDA grading system is not designed at all for 100% grass fed beef.

Why are you skeptical of the heritage pork claim? They list heritage breeds and anyone could easily obtain a DNA test to prove them as frauds.

May I suggest reading real food fake food to learn how all the scams take place.

BTW the only negative thing I see is there steaks are too thin. 1.75 to 2 inches is the standard.
csm
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Re: Butcher Box

Post by csm »

wfrobinette wrote: Wed Sep 09, 2020 2:10 pm
BTW the only negative thing I see is there steaks are too thin. 1.75 to 2 inches is the standard.
This was one reason I was hesitant to order. I usually buy one large, thick steak that my husband and I share. With ButcherBox, they ship individual steaks, i.e. 2 x 10 oz. NY strip whereas I would prefer to have one thick 20 oz. NY strip to share.

But we ordered and will see how we like it.
wanderer
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Re: Butcher Box

Post by wanderer »

Has anyone compared Blue Nest beef? https://bluenestbeef.com/shop/
We are considering it because of it claims "Audubon certified"?
barnaclebob
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Re: Butcher Box

Post by barnaclebob »

wfrobinette wrote: Wed Sep 09, 2020 2:10 pm
barnaclebob wrote: Tue Sep 17, 2019 11:01 am Unless the meat in the box is USDA graded you are probably not getting high quality cuts. Most people don't know what a good steak looks like and the one that is on the front page of their website is terrible looking, zero marbling.

I'm also skeptical of the "heritage pork" claim.
Marbling has nothing to do with the quality of 100% grass fed beef. Marbling comes from grain feeding which actually darn near kills the cow before it's slaughtered. Bovines are not designed to eat corn or other grains. The USDA grading system is not designed at all for 100% grass fed beef.

Why are you skeptical of the heritage pork claim? They list heritage breeds and anyone could easily obtain a DNA test to prove them as frauds.

May I suggest reading real food fake food to learn how all the scams take place.

BTW the only negative thing I see is there steaks are too thin. 1.75 to 2 inches is the standard.
I wont argue with what you say about beef, I don't prefer grass fed beef.

"Heritage breed" is buzzword in my opinion, like many of the non protected terms which chicken or their eggs are sold under. Yes the pigs are most likely heritage breeds but unless its coupled with "heritage" raising practices I don't think there is much benefit. I buy my pork half a hog at a time from the farmer and butcher it myself. Its usually Berkshire or a Berkshire mix. One of the farms has much better tasting pork than the others even though they are all "heritage breeds", the pork chops are as juicy as a prime ribeye. The other farms usually taste a bit better than your average grocery store pork but nowhere near the good farm. The only thing i can think of is that it comes down to the raising practices. The good farm is essentially a hobby farm and they let the pigs on a huge pasture to do whatever they want. The other farms have pastured pigs but not quite as much area to roam and they raise maybe 100 heads at a time instead of maybe 2 dozen at the good farm. I don't believe that a large internet retailer will be able to source their pork from a farm that doesn't sacrifice quality for production efficiency. After I gave my brother some of the good stuff, he ordered some Bekshire pork chops at a good restaurant and was pretty disappointed.
davemanjam
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Re: Butcher Box

Post by davemanjam »

sophie1 wrote: Sun Sep 15, 2019 1:37 pm The price for a Custom Box is $149/month including delivery. They give a range of 9-14 lbs per box; my sample first order plus their promotion of 2 lbs ground beef thrown in per box adds up to 13 lbs. That's $11.46/lb average, which is a screaming bargain compared to prices for grassfed meats in my area. It's also comparable to online places like US Wellness Meats.
Whether $11.46/lb is a deal really depends on the selection and whether it matches your lifestyle...would you have otherwise consumed that quantity of meat in that timeframe?
It kind of has me thinking what my budget is spent on meat specifically and if I should look into a service like this.
csm
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Re: Butcher Box

Post by csm »

davemanjam wrote: Thu Sep 10, 2020 10:59 am
Whether $11.46/lb is a deal really depends on the selection and whether it matches your lifestyle...would you have otherwise consumed that quantity of meat in that timeframe?
It kind of has me thinking what my budget is spent on meat specifically and if I should look into a service like this.
I'm not sophie1 and still hope she chimes in as the OP, but one of the reasons I decided to try Butcher Box over some others, was the ability to make a custom selection on cuts and, to a lesser extent, quantity and frequency.

I'm actually at home waiting for my first order now, which is out for delivery. But as part of my thought process, when I added up my selections and divided by the portion sizes we typically eat, it works out to about $4 per person for the meat (or poultry/seafood) per meal, and possibly even less because in a lot of cases we would have leftovers for lunch that I didn't calculate. For example, I'm getting 3 1-lb packages of bone-in chicken thighs and based my per-meal calculation on getting one meal for the two of us per 1-lb package, but there will be leftovers from which I'll make chicken salad for lunch the following day. If I select the boneless chicken breasts, 3 x 1-lb will go even further.

I think I'm getting the equivalent of protein for at least 18 dinners, not counting leftovers, for $149, and I've currently set my frequency to every 8 weeks, or using one of these portions every 3 days. If we like the taste and quality of the meat, it should work out for us. I also liked that I can choose pork, chicken, ground sausage and a limited selection of seafood, so it's not all beef. For this first order, I selected 1 lb of scallops as seafood, but they also have an option for a 2 lb wild Alaskan salmon.

One concern is that everything comes frozen, so I'm stuck defrosting more than I might generally use if I'd bought fresh. When I buy a 1 lb pack of fresh ground beef in the supermarket, I will frequently split it and use 1/2 lb immediately, and freeze the other half. I don't mind adjusting and defrosting a pound of ground beef and using it up a couple days in a row, but I can't imagine defrosting a 2 lb salmon at once. I prefer buying frozen salmon in individual servings, like the Norwegian salmon from Whole Foods, even if it is farmed vs. wild. That provides 6-8 individual servings that I would split over a couple of weeks.

Like a previous poster who said he did not like the taste of grass-fed meat, I admit that the tastiest beef I've had has not been grass fed. But I'm more concerned with health so want to get the best tasting grass-fed I can find (raised without antibiotics and hormones). Some of the grass-fed steaks I've bought at the supermarket have cost quite a lot and not been good at all. So I'm crossing fingers and will report my experience.
Last edited by csm on Thu Sep 10, 2020 1:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
wfrobinette
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Re: Butcher Box

Post by wfrobinette »

barnaclebob wrote: Thu Sep 10, 2020 10:09 am
wfrobinette wrote: Wed Sep 09, 2020 2:10 pm
barnaclebob wrote: Tue Sep 17, 2019 11:01 am Unless the meat in the box is USDA graded you are probably not getting high quality cuts. Most people don't know what a good steak looks like and the one that is on the front page of their website is terrible looking, zero marbling.

I'm also skeptical of the "heritage pork" claim.
Marbling has nothing to do with the quality of 100% grass fed beef. Marbling comes from grain feeding which actually darn near kills the cow before it's slaughtered. Bovines are not designed to eat corn or other grains. The USDA grading system is not designed at all for 100% grass fed beef.

Why are you skeptical of the heritage pork claim? They list heritage breeds and anyone could easily obtain a DNA test to prove them as frauds.

May I suggest reading real food fake food to learn how all the scams take place.

BTW the only negative thing I see is there steaks are too thin. 1.75 to 2 inches is the standard.
I wont argue with what you say about beef, I don't prefer grass fed beef.

"Heritage breed" is buzzword in my opinion, like many of the non protected terms which chicken or their eggs are sold under. Yes the pigs are most likely heritage breeds but unless its coupled with "heritage" raising practices I don't think there is much benefit. I buy my pork half a hog at a time from the farmer and butcher it myself. Its usually Berkshire or a Berkshire mix. One of the farms has much better tasting pork than the others even though they are all "heritage breeds", the pork chops are as juicy as a prime ribeye. The other farms usually taste a bit better than your average grocery store pork but nowhere near the good farm. The only thing i can think of is that it comes down to the raising practices. The good farm is essentially a hobby farm and they let the pigs on a huge pasture to do whatever they want. The other farms have pastured pigs but not quite as much area to roam and they raise maybe 100 heads at a time instead of maybe 2 dozen at the good farm. I don't believe that a large internet retailer will be able to source their pork from a farm that doesn't sacrifice quality for production efficiency. After I gave my brother some of the good stuff, he ordered some Bekshire pork chops at a good restaurant and was pretty disappointed.
I agree 100% with what you said. A friend of mine is getting set to buy a "farm" in NC. He wants to raise Heritage pigs. He hasn't settled on a breed yet. But he's shooting for a few dozen heads at a time that are free to roam.

Labeling is an issue for sure.
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lthenderson
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Re: Butcher Box

Post by lthenderson »

barnaclebob wrote: Thu Sep 10, 2020 10:09 am One of the farms has much better tasting pork than the others even though they are all "heritage breeds", The good farm is essentially a hobby farm and they let the pigs on a huge pasture to do whatever they want. The other farms have pastured pigs but not quite as much area to roam and they raise maybe 100 heads at a time instead of maybe 2 dozen at the good farm.
In the pig world, slower growth equals more flavor. That is why heritage breeds, which aren't as efficient on weight gain as modern breeds, have more flavor. It is also why a hog that is raised in a large pasture with lots of room to move about (and burn more calories) will put on weight more slowly than those kept in tight spaces and unable to burn as much energy. In an ideal pork world, everyone would have a couple pigs in the back 40 that were born in early spring and slowly put on weight all summer long to be butchered in the late fall after feeding them all the acorns they could eat for a few weeks. Very few people can do this nor can many farmers afford to feed twice as much grain to get the same weight gain and so here we are in a world of flavorless pork.
MJS
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Re: Butcher Box

Post by MJS »

Universities with Meat Sciences programs commonly sell very high quality meat for [usually] reasonable prices. If you are near a college with agricultural programs, it's worth checking to see if they have meat sales. Iowa, Florida, Colorado, Arizona are some of the ones I'm familiar with. Some will custom-cut on request.
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