Home Butcher Guide

Butchering/Processing Meat

Welcome to the Butcher Room!

Here we go! This is where the decisions are made, the knives start slicing and the paper starts ripping! The butcher room is a special place because it’s near the end of the entire process of butchering meat. By now you’ve slaughtered your animal and you have prepared it for preservation. 


Butcher Room

The Meat Room, as we like to call it is full of tall tales, silly jokes and plenty of coffee to keep things going. But before we get to the good stuff, there is a bit of preparation that needs to happen. The butcher room or meat room is where the meat that you are processing that day is getting cut up, ground, and ready for packaging. 

Being able to butcher the animals you raised at home meat is a privilege. Not everyone has the opportunity or is ever given the chance to raise, care for and butcher their own animals. Taking on the art of butchering at home is unique. Getting started with creating a place to begin your home butcher journey is an exciting time. We can get you started with seeing what is needed and what isn’t to build your own home butcher room. 

Butcher room grinder

Setting up your Meat Room

Setting up a butchering meat room at home takes time. This can be something that you can shoot for over the years by accumulating used equipment, stainless steel tables and tools. As you get more and more tools the process will become easier and faster. If time is not on your side then we will guide you through exactly what you need to get going with your own meat processing room.  

Cutting and Preserving Butchered Meat

Cutting and preserving your freshly butchered meat is the fun part of butchering. It’s the part where the whole family pitches in and great conversations and stories are told.  It’s also celebratory because it’s the last step of the process of butchering meat at home. 

Learning how to butcher and cut meat at home is an accomplishment. You should be proud that you are this far into the process. No matter what you are processing, whether it is poultry, pork or beef, we will guide you through to the end. 

What are the Benefits of Preserving Meat?

Cost. A freezer full of meat doesn’t experience the rise and fall of the cost at the butcher market. It’s always available and it’s always the same price. It’s a bulk amount at a cost that is low to you. 

You will gain self-satisfaction of growing and preserving your own animal is definitely a step towards self-sustainability. In the old days it was a necessity to raise and butcher your own animals, but now it’s a choice. If the opportunity to butcher at home presents itself in your life, learn the skill. It will be worth it.

Control. When you preserve your own animals at home you gain all the control of how it is prepared and packaged. You might prefer all your ground beef to be super fine, so you grind it twice. Or maybe you prefer leaner meat, so you cut off all the fat, and save it for making suet for the birds in the winter. Maybe a marinade is what you prefer, and you add that at the time of cutting and preserving your meat at home. We have fun cutting our steaks exactly the way we like it. We can control how thick, how many per package, and how we want them wrapped. 

Best Way to Package and Preserve Raw meat

Different meat requires different packaging in order to preserve it for long periods of time. Meat should be able to be kept for a solid year in your freezer. That allows enough time to eat what was butchered last year with very little waste and be ready for next year’s butcher.


  • The goal is to avoid freezer burn and to keep your fresh meat as fresh as possible. Freezer burn occurs when the natural moisture from the meat evaporates, leaving the meat tasting unsatisfactory. 
  • Vacuum sealing is the preferred method to preserve poultry and smaller game. Butcher paper is the traditional way to preserve large cuts of meat from pigs and beef. 
  • Preserving chicken looks different than preserving pork or beef but all are packaged and ready for the freezer by the methods preferred. 

Check out the different methods of preservation for poultry, pork and beef by clicking. You’ll also find recommended products that we have use for most of our lives. 

How Long Does Meat Last in the Freezer?

 FDA recommendations for freezing meat is different from the home butcher.  Butcheries, butcher boutiques and professional business need to follow the guidelines because of liability. You will not find a home butcher who tosses all their ground beef after only 3-4 months of freezing because the FDA recommends it. If this is something you want to follow, butchering small amounts is recommended so there is no wasted meat. 


The freezer of one who butchers or buys from a home butcher is full of a variety of meats and each one stays fresh without freezer burn for different periods of time. Frozen whole chickens that have been vacuum sealed properly can keep well a year or more. If chicken is broken down into smaller parts it is likely to get freezer burnt much faster.  Pork chops wrapped in butcher paper keep well in the freezer 8-12 months. Most wrapped beef keeps well for one year. We have been know to double wrap our beef in order to lock in the freshness and avoid freezer burn.

Tools & Equipment we use for Freezing Meat

There are special tools and equipment for cutting and wrapping meat for the freezer that cannot be avoided. A vacuum sealer is a must for chicken, and sausage. Waxed wrapping paper is essential for beef and pork. Investing in these items will keep meat for longer. 

Butcher paper
Vacuum seal

Essential Tools for Processing

There are minimal essential tools needed to preserve beef, pork, poultry or game meat for the freezer. This keeps butchering at home simplistic and low cost.

1. Butcher Paper

Butcher paper is as essential as a knife when butchering. Butcher paper comes in a few different sized rolls. The 15″ or 18” wide roll is preferred for beef and pork. If there are larger cuts, double wrap it or wrap it in plastic wrap first then butcher paper. Plastic wrap is nice to have nearby when butchering. 

2. Vacuum Sealer

Some would say a vacuum sealer is not essential. I would agree, unless you are preserving poultry, sausage or wild game. Poultry is especially apt to get freezer burnt when it is wrapped rather than sealed. 

Vacuum sealers can get pretty expensive but if you are doing a lot of meat preserving, then that would be a good choice. Otherwise, a lower cost basic sealer is sufficient. 

3. Paper Cutter

Totally essential if butchering a large amount of meat like beef. There is just no way you will want to scissor cut all that without it. Horizontal cutters sit nicely on a table and are easy to store afterwards. Traditionally these were attached to a special butcher table.

4. Kitchen Scale

Using a kitchen scale is a handy way to keep the weight of meat even across the board. This works great for measuring ground beef, pork trimmings, or anything in bulk. 

5. Tape and Tape Dispenser

There were many years we didn’t have a tape dispenser and it took extra time to scissors cut and stick pieces to the edge of the table. Having a dispenser is a convenient way to cut tape quickly and stay organized.  Use butcher tape only. It sticks longer better. 

Other Items

Here are a few tricks and helpful items to help you get started. 

1. Plastic Wrap

Plastic wrap has its place in preserving raw meat. It’s used for wrapping one-pound packages of ground beef, ground pork, and wrapping that large brisket before double wrapping in butcher paper.


The best way to buy plastic wrap for butchering are the large boxes with the built-in slide cutter. Side cutters are absolutely essential otherwise you might go crazy trying to cut on that serrated edge for hours. It makes it so much easier! 

2. Bread Bags

Bread bags are great for packaging soup bones! Put soup bones in the bread bag then wrap in butcher paper. This is cheaper than zip locks, easier than plastic wrap and since soup bones are kept longer than most of the other meat, they are preserved nicely without freezer burn. Used bread bags work great for this. No need to buy new ones.  Sometimes the local bakery will even share a few with you.  

3. Labeling Supplies

A Sharpie is essential, a stamp kit is optional. Finding a rubber meat stamping kit at a flea market is a great find. If flea markets aren’t on the schedule, find an alphabet stamping kit.  Using a date stamp is very helpful also. We’ve used both before however, the handy dandy sharpie is by far our favorite. We like to write funny messages on our packages so when we take a chuck roast out of the freezer mid-year we can laugh because it was labeled Chuck’s Favorite Roast or some other silly saying. Sharpies work great on vacuum sealed packages also.

4. Disinfectant Solution

It’s not often thought about, but there is a level of safety that should occur when butchering at home. 

Using a simple vinegar solution spray of 2.5% vinegar to water is effective to use on cutting boards, knives, or any other surface that needs microbial interventions. You can mix this up yourself at home or purchase a vinegar cleaner. 


Learn How to Cut Your Own Meat