One of the nice things about beef (or most any meat for that matter) is that it stores well for up to two years in a good freezer. Some people say that you shouldn’t store it for more than 1 year to maximize taste quality, but in cases of emergency that wouldn’t matter much. So the length of preservation in a freezer really depends on your goals.
So let’s say you want to stock up on beef. How much cow do you need to purchase to fill up your freezer?
As a general guideline, one cubic foot of freezer space allows you to store between 35 and 40 pounds of packaged meat. Why the variability? Because different meat gets packaged in different shapes which will change the amount you can squeeze in.
Using this guideline, let’s look at how much meat you can get into common size freezers.
Top Freezer Above Refrigerator
You can usually only store about an eighth of a beef in the top portion of a fridge/freezer (3-4 cubic feet) combo especially if you have an ice maker or are storing a few other things.
5 Cubic Foot Freezer
This is the minimum size freezer we recommend for a quarter beef: a fully dedicated 5 cu ft freezer. If you have other things in your freezer, you may want to downgrade to an eighth beef.
6-7 FT Cubic Foot Freezer
We like to recommend this size for a quarter beef order so you have some extra room for other things as necessary.
8 Cubic Feet Freezer
This is the minimum size for a half beef order. But if you are using your freezer to store other things, including other meats, then drop down to a quarter beef.
9-12 Cubic FT Freezer
If you plan to store anything else in your freezer, 9-12 cubic feet is a good size for half a beef.
16 Cubic Feet Freezer
This is the minimum size we recommend for a whole beef order but it may be tight, so consider going a little bigger.
17-21 Cubic FT Freezers
Personally we recommend 21 cubic foot freezers to accommodate a whole cow while keeping things well organized with bins or shelves.