I have tried both of these box delivery services and I cook at least 5 nights a week. I prefer high quality meat, grass-fed, pasture-raised beef and organic beef and chicken. I don’t have an advertising link or sponsorship. Why does this matter? There are so many influencers trying to sell both of these boxes. Sometimes I appreciate hearing an opinion from someone who has no skin in the game. I hope you feel that way too.
I love one box and I canceled one. I’ll share which cuts I liked from each of these services and the things that weren’t that great. The short answer is that I regularly order the Cooks Venture curated box and I canceled Butcher Box. There are things I liked about Butcher Box and I will share those, but there is NO chicken available in the big box grocery store that rivals Cooks Venture.
What Are Heirloom Chickens?
An heirloom chicken is one that is pasture raised and SLOW growing. This is the exact opposite of most chickens raised in the United States. You can tell when you see the whole chicken, it is significantly smaller than the conventional chickens in the local store. But the flavor is bigger.
What Does Grass Fed Grass Finished Mean?
As this video explains, if the package says “grass-fed meat” that doesn’t mean grass finished. The main differences are first, grass finishing takes longer. Second, cows that are not grass-finished are usually fed GMO grains unless the package specifically says otherwise.
Cows have to graze much longer to get to the same weight eating grass vs grains. A cow that is grain-finished will be fed the last 150 days on grains and will take 14 months to get to its final weight vs 30 months for a grass-finished cow.
Cooks Venture and Butcher Box are both grass fed and grass finished beef. Cows that are grass finished are usually organic but always read the labels.
What’s Great About Cooks Venture
Have you noticed that the chicken breasts you get now, even organic ones at your local grocery store, are gigantic? They are also pretty rubbery tasting. Same with the chicken legs. These chicken legs are massive and so are the whole chickens.
There’s a reason for that. They fatten up conventional chickens fast by feeding them crap and keeping them in a confined space. Most of them can’t even stand up.
Cook’s venture raises “heritage” chickens that are free-range. Whether you are into animal welfare or not, there is no denying the superior meat quality and taste. As a result, the birds are a LOT smaller, but the meat is so much better tasting. I love their spatchcock chicken. It is so delicious just with salt, pepper and some garlic powder.
Even the ground chicken tastes drastically different. Have you ever noticed that when you brown ground chicken from the grocery store (even if it’s organic) there is a ton of gross liquid in the pan? This doesn’t happen with Cook’s Venture ground chicken (which I use in my chicken wraps).
Cooks Venture also sells grass-fed, grass-finished beef, grass-fed, grass-finished lamb and heritage pork. They don’t currently have seafood options but it is coming soon.
At the time I’m writing this in mid-2022 they have two custom boxes. You can build a box with 6 items of your choosing for $160 or 12 items for $290. I always get the bigger box. You can get free shipping with either size. You can get $50 dollars off your first box (in 2022). The boxes I’ve received have been 100% frozen even in 100-degree plus weather.
Cooks Venture is NOT a meat subscription box, which I prefer. You can create a unique one-time purchase every time you place an order. I like that because I always find that every subscription plan is designed so that you get more than you use.
My favorite items in order of how much I like them:
- spatchcock chicken (worth the box alone for these),
- brisket (it’s hard to find grass-fed brisket),
- pack of chicken breasts (2 x1.25 b bags counts as one item)
- Grass-fed ground beef
- pack of chicken legs
- ground chicken
- pack of chicken thighs
- ground pork
- whole chicken
Things I don’t order because I’ve tried them and I didn’t like them are: sirloin and rib-eye (not my favorite cuts of meat), chicken wings (not a of meat on these which makes sense).
The things I don’t like about Cooks Venture are that sometimes my favorite items aren’t available. I like so many things that I still place an order, but every once in a while they will be out of something.
The meats need to be thawed in a container, they do leak. I keep a plastic bin in my fridge to thaw all of my beef and chicken. Be prepared, thawing a chicken can take a long time, more than one day. If I had a magic wand I would get fresh meat that is pasture-raised and heritage chickens, but that’s not something I have found.
What I Like About Butcher Box
Butcher Box is a bigger bargain. They have two custom box options, 9-14 pounds of meat for $169 or 18-26 pounds for $305 (as of July 2022). I think it’s a bigger savings vs the grocery store because it’s mostly beef. You can read a comparison of the cost of Butcher Box to the grocery store here.
I like that Butcher box has seafood options like Cod, wild Alaskan salmon, wild caught shrimp and lobster tails.
I don’t like subscription boxes. I wish you could order a la carte and get what you want when you want it. The chicken is free-range and organic, which is not as good as heritage pasture-raised meats.
Did you know this means they are raised in a 2-foot area? That’s what counts as free range. Read this if you want the shocking truth. I won’t go on a rant, I will just say that you CAN TASTE THE DIFFERENCE.
I don’t think the New York Strip steak (which is my husband’s favorite) was as good as the grass fed, grass finished New York Strip from Whole Foods.
Do I Save Money?
The short answer is no. This stuff isn’t cheaper. It’s better! If the most important thing for you is to save money, this is not the best option. This is for people who are really committed to eating high quality meats.
The boxes make it difficult to calculate because there are no individual prices. If you get six-piece chicken box with only chicken breasts you get 15 pounds (12 packs of chicken breast meat, each package is 1.25 pounds). That breaks down to $10.67 per pound. This is more expensive. BUT YOU CAN”T GET HERITAGE PASTURE RAISED CHICKEN at the grocery store. You can get organic, but there’s a big difference.
The only place I’ve seen this kind of chicken is at Trader Joe’s and the only option is a whole chicken.
What is Heritage Pork?
Heritage pork must be pigs registered as purebred. The only two pig breeds in the US that meet this distinction are Berkshire and Ossabaw Island pigs, which were endangered.
Heritage pigs are pasture raised and organic, but always read the labels to be sure. This is a really interesting article about heritage pig farms.
If you are just looking for the best meat delivery services, both Cooks Venture and Butcher Box are at the top of the ladder. But Cooks Venture offers types of meat that you can’t find at the grocery store. I believe that food is medicine and I’m willing to splurge to eat high-quality meat.