OK, so earlier I wrote a post about how to use a pound of ground beef/mince to create a HUGE pot of chili that you then use in different ways to feed your family for a week. The meals are tasty but you don't get a lot of meat to chew on. So today I decided to do another ground beef post that included meals where you actually know you are eating the meat.
Remember, ground beef in the US averages $ 4.25 per pound and the equivalent of $6 per pound in the UK. Five pounds of ground beef will therefore cost you about $21.25. So, to save money for things that are much more fun than weeknight dinners we want to stretch that of ground beef as far as we can without causing family mutiny.
To do that I have some tricks up my sleeve:
- add grated veg such as carrot, onion and potato to the ground meat before making the recipe since these are much cheaper and disappear into the meat when cooked, honest
- depending on the recipe add mashed and seasoned cooked legumes to the meat (about 1/3 beans to 2/3 meat) to cut cost and add protein
- bulk the meat out with bread crumbs, cracker crumbs, oatmeal (dry) and eggs just like your mom and grandma used to do
So, what to use all this good meat to make?
- For meal one stretch using one or more of the above ideas. Add some extra Italian seasonings to the mix to add flavor and then form into small meatballs. I emphasize small because people eat with their eyes. If they get 3 or 4 small meat balls they subconsciously feel they have gotten more than if they eat 1 meatball containing the same amount of meat. So, save your budget and use this info to your advantage. Serve the meatballs with sauce and pasta and sides. I would include some great garlic bread if I was making it. Use 1 pound. If you have leftover meatballs and sauce they make great hoagies for lunch the next day or part of dinner on leftover night at the end of the week. That is if you can stop your family from eating them all with the spaghetti. :-)
- Hamburgers, stretched using one or more of the above and add some Worcestershire sauce and french onion soup mix to the meat to make them very flavorful and yummy. In our house these would demand good buns and homemade french fries with the skin still on. As a bone to good eating we would add lettuce, onion and tomato to the burgers and cheese if it pleases you. Use 1 pound. You should be able to get more than 4 burgers if you have stretched the meat. Either use the extra for lunch or save for a leftover night at the end of the week.
- Sloppy Joes made from scratch or using a commercial product. To make these I would only stretch the meat using the first two options since the beans tend to burn when the meat mix is fried prior to adding the sauce. I would just increase the amount of the first two to compensate for the lack of the third. Use one pound. This should make more than four good size sandwiches. If you have any leftover do as discussed above.
- Ground beef "steaks" with onion gravy. Stretch using the one or more of the above methods and add some Worcestershire and onion soup again for increased flavor. Serve with very oniony beefy gravy made using either homemade stock or a stock cube and sauteed onions. These are great with mashed potatoes or egg noodles and other sides of your choice. Use one pound. Again you should get more than four so same drill as the above.
- Ground meat Greek style. Stretch the meat and add onion soup mix, dill, oregano and garlic to the mix. Form into long and thin pieces and brown. Serve in pitas with feta, onion and tomato and a yogurt sauce. Use one pound. Again, you should get more than four meat pieces so either use for lunch or save for a leftover dinner.
- Leftover Night, if you managed to save any. Let people choose what strikes their fancy and make a big salad to round things off.
And yes, I know this is only six nights and not seven. Everyone needs a night off. Can you say take out or tasking someone else to cook? Now that is a good night. :-)