Butcher Box Review: Premium Quality or Waste of Money?

Butcher Box Review: Premium Quality or Waste of Money?


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Butcher Box is a popular meat and fish delivery service, and was one of the first brands delivering grass-fed beef and wild-caught fish right to the doorstep of Americans in the mail. The brand claims to provide "Unbeatable Value" and claims that their meat is "high-quality" and "humanely raised."

But how does the price of Butcher Box compare to other meat delivery services and in-store options? Is grass-fed meat actually healthier than conventionally-raised meat or is it a waste of money? What about wild-caught seafood versus farmed? And how do real users rate and describe the benefits or inconveniences of Butcher Box?

In this article we'll answer all of these questions and more as we provide a cost comparison of the same type of meat and seafood on Butcher Box, Thrive Market and Amazon to see which retailer has the best prices.

We'll also analyze medical studies to explain whether grass-fed meat and wild-caught fish are actually healthier than the cheaper alternatives, or if they're a waste of money.

We'll feature Butcher Box customer reviews and an interview with the CEO who warns about "greenwashing" of meat.

Is Butcher Box Overpriced?

As referenced in the intro to this article, Butcher Box claims that their value is unbeatable. But how does the price of their meat and fish actually compare to other online retailers? 

Here's a price comparison between Thrive Market, Butcher Box and Amazon:

Grass-Fed Beef (Per Pound)

  • Thrive Market: $13.99
  • Butcher Box: $12.07
  • Amazon $7.99 (link)

Organic Chicken Breast (Per Pound)

  • Thrive Market: $9.99
  • Butcher Box: $9.39
  • Amazon: $8.99 (link)

Wild-Caught Sockeye Salmon (Per Pound)

  • Thrive Market: $24.66
  • Amazon: $15.50 (link)
  • Butcher Box: $14.08

Butcher Box has the best prices for delivery orders on high-quality meat and fish that we've come across in any Illuminate Health review.

While some products are cheaper on Amazon, this pricing refers to in-store Whole Foods pricing (because Amazon owns Whole Foods), so it's not a direct comparison because shipped animal products will never be as cheap as in-store purchases. 

We consider Butcher Box to be affordably priced and the best online option, beating out Thrive Market. Butcher Box also provides added value with offers like free ground beef for a year which is available at the time of updating this article (two pounds of free ground beef per order).

But what's the best way to structure a custom Butcher Box plan for optimal nutrition and cost? We'll review in the next section.

What's the Best-Priced Butcher Box Plan?

Butcher Box sells two types of plans: Custom (you pick the cuts) or Curated (Butcher Box picks the cuts). As shown below, the custom plan contains 20% more meat which makes it the more budget-friendly option:

Butcher Box plans

As far as the specific cuts, we recommend going heavy on seafood because as we documented in the price comparison section, Butcher Box has the best prices on wild-caught salmon (even better than Amazon). 

Here's the custom box we would recommend from a price and health perspective:

Butcher Box Custom Box selections

The salmon and beef are 2-pound (lb) packs, and the chicken is a 3 lb pack.

When factoring in the free 2 lbs of beef, this equates to 16 lb of high-quality meat and seafood for $169, or around $10.56 per pound, which we consider to be very reasonable given that a bulk of it is wild-caught salmon which can retail for upwards of $30 per pound even in stores.

Is Grass-Fed Beef Actually Healthier?

Much of Butcher Box's branding centers on the fact that they exclusively sell grass-fed beef. But is grass-fed actually shown to be healthier than conventionally-raised beef in research studies?

medical review published in the Nutrition Journal compared the health qualities of grain-fed and grass-fed meat.

The researchers found that grass-fed meat had higher levels of antioxidant compounds like glutathione, but more importantly the fatty acid profile of grass-fed beef was significantly healthier.

A 2002 medical review documented that the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids obtained from diet is a leading marker of systemic inflammation.

A lower ratio of omega-6 to omega-3, closer to 1:1, may be associated with improved health and reduced inflammation. As detailed in the linked study, the ratio in Western diets is closer to 15:1.

The omega ratio in grass-fed beef is much more optimal than that in grain-fed beef. The ratio in grass-fed beef was found in the above-linked review to be around 2:1, while the ratio in grain-fed beef was around 9:1.

Based on these medical studies, along with the fact that grass-fed beef tends to be nutritionally richer than conventionally-raised beef, we consider grass-fed beef to be significantly healthier and to be worth the extra expense for consumers who can afford it (even eating smaller portions of meat to afford grass-fed may be a healthier choice).

But how do real users rate and describe their experience using Butcher Box, along with the quality of the meat? We'll share some real user reviews in the next section.

Real People Try Butcher Box

A YouTube creator named "Growing Intuitive Eaters" who has a PhD in nutrition explains why she didn't like her Butcher Box subscription:

A YouTube creator named "The Kavalier" has a Butcher Box review that he claims took over two years to make:

Is Wild-Caught Fish Actually Healthier?

Butcher Box advertises that all of the seafood they sell is wild-caught, meaning it’s sourced from the ocean and not farmed fish enclosures.

But is this actually healthier and worth the increased cost?

A 2017 clinical trial compared the level of toxins and other pollutants in wild caught versus farmed fish, and found that toxin levels were significantly higher in farmed fish. 

Pesticide levels were 82% higher in farmed fish than in wild-caught fish, and lead levels were described as "significantly higher" in farmed fish.

A clinical trial published in the Foods journal compared the nutritional content of farmed and wild-caught fish, and found that omega-3 content was 3x higher in the wild-caught fish. The ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids was also more optimal in the wild-caught fish.

Based on the available research, we consider wild-caught fish to be significantly healthier than farmed fish. We believe it's worth the added expense for consumers who can afford it.

Not only is wild-caught fish more nutritionally rich in omega-3 fatty acids, but it appears to be lower in toxins.

Butcher Box CEO Interview

A popular YouTube creator in the health and fitness space named Thomas DeLauer interviewed Butcher Box CEO Michael Salguero about everything from how to read a meat label to the issues in the factory farming industry to the issues with "greenwashed" meat:

Is Butcher Box Environmentally-Friendly?

Butcher Box cardboard packaging

As shown above, Butcher Box ships in cardboard packaging which is an environmentally-friendly choice, and is much better than plastic.

However, the brand also utilizes dry ice and an “insulating pad” which are typically wrapped with plastic.

Dry ice and insulation are necessary to ensure that shipped frozen meat won’t spoil, so there’s really no way around this until technological advances occur. 

Butcher Box seems to be doing everything they can to minimize the effects of their packaging on the environment, and the brand is ahead of many other meat delivery companies by using a fully cardboard box.

Butcher Box published a blog post detailing their commitment to sustainability that's actually a pretty interesting read.

Purchasing meat and seafood from local farmers may have a lower environmental impact due to less plastic waste and reduced carbon footprint.

Butcher Box Pros and Cons

Here are the pros and cons of Butcher Box in our opinion:

Pros:

  • Best wild-caught salmon prices we've come across
  • Free shipping
  • All meat and seafood appears to be high-quality
  • Healthier than conventionally-raised animal products
  • Brand offers deals like free grass-fed beef for a year
  • As environmentally-friendly as an eCommerce company can be

Cons:

  • Grass-fed beef prices are somewhat expensive
  • Meat may spoil during transit
  • May be worse for environment than purchasing from local farmers

Butcher Box FAQs

Is Butcher Box Worth It?

We believe Butcher Box is worth it for consumers who have high discretionary income, because the brand does all of the work of sourcing and qualifying products for you.

Every product Butcher Box sells is high-quality, so the consumer doesn't have to analyze ingredient labels and research certifications on their own.

Butcher Box is also likely worth it for those in very remote locations where access to high-quality meat and seafood in grocery stores may not be available.

What Comes In An All-Beef Butcher Box?

One of Butcher Box’s options is an All-Beef box, which contains a variety of different cuts of beef. The cuts vary by month.

A Butcher Box blog post detailed that last month’s cuts for the All Beef Butcher Box were: 2 lb ground beef, 2 NY strip steaks, 1 lb premium steak tips, 2+ lbs of chuck roast, and 4 top sirloin steaks.

Crowd Cow vs. Butcher Box?

Crowd Cow is another popular online meat and seafood delivery service.

Crowd Cow has cheaper beef options than Butcher Box at the time of updating this article ($9.99/lb for grass-fed beef vs. $13.99/lb).

Butcher Box has much cheaper seafood options at the time of updating ($14.08/lb for wild-caught salmon vs. $29.31).

We can't find as many online customer reviews of Crowd Cow, so we'd give the slight edge to Butcher Box although Crowd Cow may be a better option for consumers only looking to purchase beef.

Moink vs. Butcher Box?

Moink is yet another online meat and seafood delivery service. Their box price is $159 for around 11 lb of meat and seafood, which works out to a very similar cost to Butcher Box.

Moink only offers two standard selection types with no customization, so we believe that Butcher Box is the superior option due to the flexibility that the brand offers consumers.

Is Butcher Box Organic?

Some Butcher Box products are organic, but not all. The brand specifies that their chicken is organic.

We don’t believe organic certification matters from a health context for animal products. What matters is whether the animals had access to pasture or ate grain.

Grass-fed beef is a healthier designation than organic beef in our opinion.

Stay up-to-date on our research reviews

Conclusion

Butcher Box is a high-quality brand, and we would recommend this service to those who can afford it.

Not only is all of the meat and seafood on Butcher Box optimal from a nutritional perspective (beef is pastured and seafood is wild-caught), but Butcher Box has the best prices for online delivery of high-quality meat and seafood that we've come across.

We consider Butcher Box to be a better option than Thrive Market for meat and seafood.

Based on our review of medical research, grass-fed beef is healthier than conventionally-raised meat, and wild-caught fish is healthier than farmed fish. This supports Butcher Box's claims about the quality of their products.

In this article we featured a custom-created Butcher Box plan that we believe is the best combination of nutrition and cost.

Butcher Box is packaged in cardboard and appears to be doing everything possible to be a sustainable eCommerce brand.