How To Save on Meat by Buying It From The Back Of A Truck
Last year, I got fed up with the outrageous prices of chicken, beef, and fish at the grocery store.
Not to mention the “mystery” of buying meat at the grocery store. How was the animal raised? What type of food did it eat? What was added to it during processing? How long has it been in that packaging?
Yeah, not really my style.
We’re budget conscious, for sure, but paying at least $2.49/lb for questionable chicken breast, and at least $3.99 for fatty beef just didn’t thrill me. So, after reading tons of rave reviews about Zaycon Foods, the hubs and I decided to give it a try.
And, since chicken breast is a staple in our household, we decided to dip our toes in with a case of chicken breast, priced at $1.69/lb.
What is Zaycon Foods?
The Washington based company makes meat affordable by requiring their customers to buy in bulk. Think of it like a food co-op, you get the discount, but you don’t have to belong to the co-op and you won’t always pick up your order at the same place. Also, their selection is limited to meat – ground beef, ribs, wings, salmon, chicken breasts, etc – so you won’t be able to order your Coconut Flour from them.
The minimum order amount for each type of meat available when we went to order was usually 40 pounds. What is available depends, based on the seasons, but as a general rule you can get sausage, bacon, ham, ground beef, salmon, chicken breast and other meats for most of the year. Some of the meats (you’ll have to check in your specific area) can be bought in smaller quantities, such as 20 pounds.
Boneless, skinless chicken breasts in our neck of the woods (St. Louis, MO) will generally run $2.49/lb – $3.99/lb on a regular day. About 4 times a year you can find them on sale for $0.99/lb, but I do have to mention that there is a quality difference in those $0.99/lb chicken breasts, which I’ll talk about in just a moment.
40 pounds of chicken breasts from the grocery store would run us $99.60 + tax + the cost of running to the grocery store each week, because almost no one buys 40 pounds of chicken breast at the same time.
That same amount of chicken breast from Zaycon foods, at $1.69/lb cost us $67.60 + tax, and we wouldn’t have to run to the grocery store….ever.
To me, ordering through Zaycon Foods not only saved us hassle, it saved us $32. And, since we tend to go through 40 pounds of chicken breasts every other month, we would save $192 a year.
At regular prices, grocery store chicken breast quality is questionable at best.
US labeling requirements don’t require chicken manufacturers to disclosure much about the quality of their product – where the chickens were raised & butchered, what they ate, and what chemicals were added to the meat during processing.
And the $0.99/lb chicken breast? Oh boy, where do I begin?
It has usually been frozen, has been in the packaging a freaking long time, has unknown additives, and is basically the lowest quality chicken breast money can buy.
I admit that the first time we ordered from Zaycon Foods, I had pretty low expectations. I figured that the quality couldn’t be lower than those $5 bags of frozen chicken breasts you get at Aldi (I love Aldi, but those are horrible), and that if it wasn’t the best, we would eat it and then move on.
But when I went to their website I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that Zaycon chicken breasts have no preservatives or salt added to them. They’re fresh, never frozen, and when you get them they’ve almost always been in the packaging for 7 days or less…that is, 7 days from the time they’ve been butchered.
When you buy chicken from the grocery store – or any meat for that matter – it could have been butchered anywhere from 7 days to a full month ago.
Ordering from Zaycon Foods
Ordering is very painless. You can choose to “Shop by Location” or “Shop by Product” Many events near your location will have more than 1 product, so the way that you search is really your preference. As a general rule, I search by location, and the search results look like this:
Locations are sorted by distance away, and each event has the products listed (with sold out buttons if applicable) Once you have selected a location, date, and product you want to order, Register or Login to Zaycon Foods to Order. When you do, a nice little “Purchase button will pop up next to each item.
Click purchase and it will ask you to confirm the pickup date, location, and time, just to make sure that it works for you schedule. Then, you’ll input your desired quantity, credit card information, and Zaycon Foods will display your receipt as well as email it to you.
Picking Up Your Order
A few days before your event date rolls around, Zaycon Foods will send you an email, reminding you about your pickup time. Since you can order as much as 3-4 months ahead of time as I often do, this feature is invaluable.
When you pull up to the event, there will be signs directing traffic flow, since pickup takes place right out of the back of a refrigerated truck. Follow the signs, and when it’s your turn, pull up to the person verifying order and give them your name as well as a printed copy of your receipt. They will load your order in the back of your vehicle, but I do recommend bringing plastic for the back of your car.
Why? Because the packing on the orders is “bulk packaging.” Chicken breasts come in case of 40 pounds, in 4, 10 pound bags. They’re pretty sturdy and their in a cardboard box, but as you know, plastic bags can get rips, and cardboard doesn’t really hold liquid, so be sure to put something down on the backseat of your car.
After Pick Up
Be prepared with plastic bags for after pickup. Since the chicken breasts (and everything else, really) come in such large packages, most families find that they need to repackage the chicken breasts themselves before freezing. Since we’re only a family of 3, we freeze 3 breasts in each bag. If your family is bigger, than freeze accordingly. We find that we end up needing to use gallon bags for 3 chicken breasts.
These chicken breasts are huge and juicy, and in our experience have very little fat attached to them. They usually come in lobes, but occasionally will get separated. They’re so big that we can’t fit 3 in a quart bag, and sometimes we can’t even fit two Zaycon Foods, so I suggest buying a couple boxes of gallon freezer bags before going to pick up your order.
We’ve only purchased chicken breasts from Zaycon Foods and have been delighted with our experience. We’ve been planning to try out some other meats, but have been so busy that we just haven’t tried them. When we do, I’ll be sure to update this post with info about our experience.
Zaycon Foods has tons of rave reviews on the web, but it is worth noting that I did find this negative one from The Big Happy. If I had had her experience I would have been unhappy too, so I don’t blame her, but I believe her experience was an anomoly, not the norm.
If you’re interested in trying out Zaycon Foods or just want to check it out for curiosity’s sake, you can find them at their website, Zaycon Foods.
Have you ever tried Zaycon Foods? What was your experience like?