Getting beautiful, healthy cuts of organic grass-fed beef for your dinner table shouldn't be difficult. This easy-to-understand guide breaks down what to look for on meat labels before you buy. You'll also find my top three picks for getting grass-fed beef and paleo-friendly meat delivery to your door. Dinner just got a whole lot easier!
You may have heard that grass-fed beef is better for you than grain-fed beef. Grass-fed beef has more antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals — including significantly higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which have a variety of health benefits related to their anti-inflammatory properties, and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which has potent antioxidant properties.
The good news? You don't need to spend a small fortune sourcing beautiful cuts of 100% grass-fed beef or paleo, keto, and Whole30-compliant meats. In fact, my top three choices for meat delivery range from just $5 to $8 per meal.
Now you can have the healthiest and most ethically produced selection of meat — without breaking the budget!
This post includes some affiliate links for your convenience. You can read my full disclosure statement here.
What is grass-fed beef?
Grass-fed beef is a nutrient-dense food that packs a serious punch of protein, essential amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. But what does grass-fed really mean?
Similar to the unclear labels found on salmon and other seafood products, “grass-fed” is just one of many different terms that can be found on meat labels. Others that you might have seen? Grass-finished, pasture-raised, organic, natural, humanely raised and sustainably farmed.
In order to know what you're buying, you'll want to understand what these terms mean according to US labeling laws.
Label Terms Regulated by USDA
Grass-fed: This label refers strictly to the feed of the animal. It does not indicate any other of the below-mentioned benefits (including being organic or free of antibiotics and hormones). Typically, if the label does not say 100% grass-fed, then the animal was switched to grain feed at some point during its life.
Free of antibiotics and/or hormones: These labels indicate that the animal was not fed antibiotics or hormones during the course of its life, but does not provide insight into the type of feed the animal was provided. This label can be applied to both grain and grass-fed cattle.
Grass-finished: This term refers strictly to the feed of the animal during the final stages of its life. This label does not indicate any other of the mentioned benefits, such as being free of antibiotics and hormones or, as one might expect, if it was pasture-raised.
Pasture-raised: This term indicates that the animal spent some time outdoors, but does not necessarily mean that they were fed grass or organic feed that's free of antibiotics and hormones.
Organic: This label encompasses multiple benefits such as being free of antibiotics and hormones. It's important to note that this label does not necessarily indicate a grass-fed animal.
Humanely raised and/or sustainably farmed: While these labels are regulated by the USDA's Food Safety Inspection Service, the USDA does not define the precise qualifications.
You can read more about USDA labeling policy here.
The Most Misleading Label in Meat Production
According to a recent study, one of the most misleading meat labels is the term “natural.” While this might sound like a desirable benefit, there is currently no regulated definition of what this term actually indicates beyond the assurance that no artificial ingredients or colors have been added. The USDA does not provide a standard for how clearly individual meat producers define this term on their packaging.
It is common to assume that feeding cattle grass is deemed more natural than grain. And allowing them to roam in a pasture is more natural than living in a feedlot. Yet the term “natural” does not indicate either of these things.
The result? Many consumers will pay a premium for “natural” meats without truly understanding what the term actually means.
Tips for Sourcing Grass-Fed Beef
While it's certainly possible to visit your local butcher for grass-fed beef, I prefer to order my organic meats online. This way I know exactly what I'm getting. And shopping online is so helpful if you live in an area where organic grass-fed meat is hard to find. I've found that this is the most convenient way to buy meat — it's delivered right to your door!
My top choices for meat delivery services are Butcher Box, Thrive Market and US Wellness Meats. They're all companies that I've purchased from and like the quality of their products. While Butcher Box is my top choice for meats, all three deliver exceptional products at an affordable price-point. I trust these brands to deliver on their promises of humanely raised animals, transparent handling and processing practices, as well as honest labeling.
Where To Buy Grass-Fed Beef Online
From the farm to your doorstep in just a couple of clicks. Here are my top choices for sourcing your grass-fed beef and other paleo and keto-friendly meats online.
Quickly establishing themselves as ‘the neighborhood butcher for modern America', ButcherBox is on a mission to make clean cuts of meat available and affordable to as many people as possible.
Butcher Box offers a monthly or bi-monthly subscription with a wide selection of high quality 100% grass-fed beef, free-range organic chicken and heritage-breed pork that's humanely raised without any antibiotics or hormones.
Their meat delivery service is the most similar experience to visiting your local butcher. Why? Because their collective of small farms believes in giving you access to the whole animal. This allows them to offer a wider variety of cuts than the average grocery store so you'll be able to try new cuts of meat.
Here are the types of meat Butcher Box offers:
- 100% grass-fed and grass-finished beef. Their US and Australian cattle are free to roam and feed on grassy pastures for the entire duration of their lives. Truly 100% grass-fed, grass-finished, raised free from antibiotics and hormones.
- Free-range organic chicken. The Butcher Box chickens roost in barns, receive ample outdoor access, and are fed a nutritious, all-vegetarian diet of forage and feed.
- Heritage-breed pork. Living in open barns with plenty of outdoor access, these heritage pigs also eat a healthy all-vegetarian forage and feed diet. Natural, “old-world” genetics ensure a slow maturation process that allows for highly desirable fine marbling and fantastic flavor.
- Wild-caught Alaskan salmon. Fished, handled and processed with a strict guarantee to provide top quality and sustainability, without any artificial coloring, additives, hormones or antibiotics…and absolutely delicious!
How Butcher Box Works
Ordering and cooking with your grass-fed and sustainably sourced meats from ButcherBox couldn't be easier.
- Start by choosing from either their selection of curated meat boxes containing beef, pork or chicken, or customizing your own box to suit your family's unique tastes and size.
- Once purchased, your monthly or bi-monthly order of frozen meats will be shipped directly to your doorstep in a carefully insulated box packed with dry ice. (My orders have always arrived frozen solid.)
- Finally, check out Butcher Box's recipes, tips and tricks for preparing delicious meals with your high-quality cuts of meat. Or you can whip up your favorite Cook Eat Paleo recipes for beef, chicken, pork or salmon!
Key Benefits of a Butcher Box Subscription
I prefer Butcher Box over the other meat delivery services I've included here for a few key reasons:
- USDA-approved. Their processing facilities and inspected, approved and always have someone on site to make sure that all their products meet — and surpass — their high safety standards.
- Sustainable packaging. All of Butcher Box's packaging materials are biodegradable or recyclable. This goes a long way to helping ensure this meat delivery service is environmentally friendly.
- Flexible subscription options. While Butcher Box offers either a monthly or bi-monthly subscription service, you still have plenty of flexibility. Your subscription can be paused for up to 6 months or canceled at any time before your next order is billed. Most importantly, you're not locked into a particular box. You can change your box type and frequency prior to billing.
- Exceptional value. Butcher Box's collective of small farms provides humanely raised top-quality meats for around $6 per meal. And they even ship for free!
These flexible subscription boxes from ButcherBox are filled with the perfect cuts of meat for you and your family and are a great choice for healthy, clean cuts of meat at an delivered to your door at an affordable price-point.
If you want to try ButcherBox, click here to get 2 lbs. of grass-fed ground beef FREE with every order! (Offer ends 3/31/19.)
Thrive Market is an online grocery catalog that provides subscribers with access to some of the world's healthiest products for the minimal annual membership cost of $59.95. Their catalog includes high-quality meats as well as other healthy ingredients that you need to stock your stock your pantry.
I like Thrive Market's online catalog because it allows product sorting based on diet-type (such as keto or paleo), ingredients, certifications, consumer ratings, and environmental and sustainability factors — and their huge selection. It's like a full grocery store of discounted organic products.
What does Thrive Market offer in the way of meats? Beef, pork, chicken, and seafood in different combinations, from single meats to mixed boxes. Here are a couple of examples:
- Premium Cuts Beef Box. This paleo and keto-compliant 100% grass-fed beef selection includes steaks, diced beef, and ground beef. Their cattle are humanely raised without any antibiotics or synthetic hormones and feast year-round on the lush Patagonian prairies of Osorno, Chile.
- Wild-Caught Seafood Box. This is a great choice if you're looking to stock your freezer with a variety of kinds of seafood, like salmon, shrimp, and scallops. All are sustainably sourced, harvested and wild-caught.
How Thrive Market Works
Thrive Market has made it easy and cost-effective for members to shop their products.
- Register for free to browse Thrive Market products, see member savings, and get free shipping on all orders over $49.
- Your free 30-day membership trial starts when you place your first order. Your membership allows you to see how much you save, as well as cancel at any time.
- After your free trial ends, join for the annual membership fee to continue as a member. The average member makes up their fee in savings in 2 orders. And if you don't? Thrive Market automatically rolls over the difference as a Thrive Market credit after you renew your subscription.
Key Benefits of Thrive Market
Thrive Market is a great choice for a meat delivery service and it's also perfect for sourcing compliant pantry staples! Here are just a few of the reasons why I like Thrive Market:
- Reasonable shipping rates. Thrive Market offers free shipping on all orders over $49. I place items in my cart as I need them and submit my order after I surpass the free shipping minimum.
- The opportunity to give back. Each paid membership provides a free membership to a low-income family. Because everyone should have access to healthy and nutritious ingredients!
- Convenient all-in-one grocery platform. Thrive Market removes the hassle of shopping from multiple delivery services. Purchase healthy pantry staples, seafood, paleo and keto-compliant products, and 100% grass-fed beef all from the same website.
Thrive Market is a great option if you're looking for standard cuts of high-quality meats and the convenience of their one-stop online shopping experience!
US Wellness Meats keeps their online grocery ordering service very simple — there's no subscription or monthly membership required. And, like Thrive Market, their platform allows you to sort products based on diets such as paleo, keto, AIP, and Whole30.
While US Wellness Meats animals are humanely raised and their cattle are 100% grass-fed, it's important to note that their meats are not organic-certified. This is due to a change in the way the state of Missouri handled their certification program and you can read more about US Wellness Meats' response in their FAQs.
What does US Wellness Meats offer in the way of grass-fed beef and other paleo-friendly meat products?
- 100% grass-fed beef. US Wellness Meats offers fresh chilled (never frozen) beef ships every 4 weeks and arrives separate from their frozen meats. Their beef is sourced from Midwest and Tasmania cattle and is never fed antibiotics or hormones.
- Wild-caught seafood. US Wellness Meats has partnered with Vital Choice to provide MSC-certified sustainably wild-harvested seafood products. This includes salmon and scallops. Prices vary based on the products you select.
- Other paleo-friendly meat products. US Wellness Meats also offers a wide variety of meats, including pork, bison, chicken, and lamb. These products come from the US Wellness Meats co-operative of farms based around the US. As with their cattle, none of these animals are fed antibiotics or hormones.
How US Wellness Meats Works
US Wellness Meats ordering and delivery is simple. Perfect for placing occasional orders that ship quickly!
- Select the perishable products that you want to purchase and place your order.
- Deliveries are shipped every week from Monday to Wednesday and arrival can be expected between 24-48 hours after shipping.
- All of these products are flash frozen and delivered frozen. They're perfect for throwing in your freezer to have on hand for easy weeknight dinners!
It's important to note that while US Wellness Meats is perfect for last-minute orders, they do have some purchase limitations. US Wellness Meats requires a $75 minimum order weighing at least 7 lbs. At that point, shipping is free but there is an additional fee for handling.
Key Benefits of US Wellness Meats Products
While the minimum order and weight requirement might be a drawback for smaller families, US Wellness meat delivery service still offers plenty of great consumer benefits.
- Sort products by diet. Using the diet-specific menu makes it much easier to peruse their selection of various compliant meat products. This becomes especially handy if you're looking for more challenging meat products, like sausage.
- Reasonable shipping fees. A $75 minimum order may seem a little steep, but it's easy to meet this minimum. And once you do, there's just a $9.50 flat handling fee on top of your purchase amount.
- Quick delivery times. There's no need to wait until the next batch of monthly membership boxes are shipped. The US Wellness Meats shipping schedule ensures that you receive your products quickly.
US Wellness Meats is a service to look into if you'd prefer to skip a subscription or membership. They also offer plenty of hard-to-find paleo-compliant meat products like bologna, bratwurst, and sausage sliders!
Final Thoughts on Selecting Your Meat Delivery Service
Still feeling stuck on which is the right solution for your family? It's best to consider the frequency and volume of meat you normally purchase, as well as the freezer space you can typically devote to an incoming order.
As you can see, there are a variety of meat delivery services and online grocer models to choose from so it's all about finding the one that best suits your needs!