Saturday, October 6

How To Stretch Ground Beef

Mmmm. Ground Beef!I was looking through my log files a moment ago and found that a visitor had arrived using this search term. Being a ground beef afficionado, and knowing it might represent someone who is facing a lean stretch, I thought I'd try to address this question. As always, any comments or suggestions are very welcome.

Anyhow, a simple suggestion if you only need to make some ground beef go further due to an unexpected guest, is to add beans. Kidney beans, romano beans, mixed beans, it really doesn't matter. A little bit of garlic, cayenne pepper, hot sauce or whatever and you are good to go. Mushrooms also go well with beef if you happen to have some around. I don't cook it often but a meatloaf would be another way to get a bit of extra mileage also.

If you are trying to stretch ground beef as far as possible due to a lean period, then I'd opt for something like chili. Ground beef, lots of beans, spices and the big stretcher, scads of rice. Cook the beef and then just dump everything into a large pot and simmer it all as long as needed. I've made various posts about how cheap rice is and how convenient a rice cooker is - so check out the post categories and I'm sure you can't miss that. You could also add a bit of ketchup, BBQ sauce, onions, peppers, leftovers, soup, or whatever else is handy and available.

A big pot of chili can be split up and frozen in meal sized containers. Perhaps serve something like a good splat of chili, a side of baked potato and some vegetable greens to round out the plate. Cheap, cheap and cheap, with lots of nutritional value as well.

A different direction to go would be to make some gravy with your ground beef. You'll end up with something approaching a stroganoff, it really doesn't matter much if you are following any formal recipes, just that it tastes good and is healthy as well. Because this is very rich tasting you can dollop some on top of something that would otherwise be too plain, such as a plate of rice. Again, a little bit of fruit and/or vegetable on the side and you've got a full belly on the cheap with good nutritional value.

I hope my visitor was only looking to stretch a meal for an unexpected guest or two, but given the background of my blog I thought I'd play it safe. Good luck out there!

P.S. Once you have chili, try one of my simple favorites. Butter some toast and then slather some leftover chili on top of it. You can warm the chili up if you want, but it tastes great right out of the fridge too. How's that for convenience?

Frugal Guy said...
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22 comments:

Brooke said...

If you are health-minded, a good cheap way to get less fat in your ground beef is to purchase the cheapest (i.e. the fattiest) ground beef, then cook it up (this only works where it can be in little chunks). Once it's cooked, drain the grease into a container (don't let it go down your drain - this is bad!). Then, get a colander and rinse your beef in the sink under water. Let all the water drain out, then get some paper towels and put the beef onto the paper towels. Let them soak up some of the fat. Then, you can put the beef back into the frying pan to heat it back up. I'm told this is equivalent to 93% fat free, and saves me about 50 cents per pound - pretty good if you use a lot of ground beef (we make huge crock pots full of chili!). Just remember that getting rid of the fat gets rid of weight and flavor, so figure that in when you decide how much meat to buy and how much fat to remove.

SavvyFrugality said...

I also supplement the ground beef with some ground turkey, or just use the ground turkey alone. It is leaner and cheaper than ground beef. However, it is an acquired taste and not for making "hamburger patties". Rather, it works quite well for chili and casseroles. Also, I make "vegetarian chili" at home with no meat at all, just three different kinds of beans...kidney, black and red beans. It's delicious, and you really don't miss the meat.

Frugal Guy said...

Brooke, Savvy, thanks for the additions!

I wish ground turkey was cheaper where I am, as I really like it. I find it's great if spiced a little and then mixed into a pot full of pasta with sauce.

Anonymous said...

Great ideas!! Thanks I always go through lean times. What will I eat dust?? No, the dollar store has ground turkey you can mix with beef. Beef can be bought cheap at at a discount club. It is a good source of protein. Some people add egg whites to the beef to keep the beef sticking together for hamburgers. Brookes ideas are great too but, if your hands sometimes shake the grease will fall on the floor and you will slip so, people need to be careful. Have a great week. Annette

Frugal Guy said...

Hi Annette, thanks for dropping by and adding your insights.

Susy said...

I use diced veggies in my sloppy joes , chili, & spaghetti sauce to make the beef go further. It's healthier too! I always saves the broccoli stalks, peel them, then dice and add. I usually add just as many diced veggies as beef. I've never had anyone notice it's half veggies half ground beef (actually venison in my case).

Heather said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

See you are getting famous already!! When is the book?? Soon I hope Annette You could be like the frugal gourmet.

Frugal Guy said...

Hi Susy,

Thanks for the note. Of course, not being much of a veggie eater myself I kind of skip that area sometimes... ;)

Hi Heather,

I've emailed you (and removed your comment since it contained your email address). Thanks.

Hi Annette,

I'd like to write a book some day, but when I look at the depth of material available in other locations, I wonder if I have enough to say.

I do go and check out some of the online self-publishing options available these days every once in a while.

Hollie said...

Hi Frugal Guy

I load up on chili here often we add rice, or grated carrots to help strech things...

By the way you are on my list of fav frugal bloggers!

http://cheaperthencheap.wordpress.com

Frugal Guy said...

Hollie, thank you for the kind words, and since your blog looks fairly new, welcome to the world of blogging!

MartinM377 said...

I was going to say that I was embarrassed to say that I don't even know how to make chilli or even meatloaf - but now that I think about it - the fun comes in learning right?

I think that the only real thing that I know how to make with ground beef is this kind of sauce that I watched my mother make. I put the ground beef in a frying pan along with onions, garlic, ketchup and barbecue sauce. Then separately I make sphagetti and there you have it - instant meal!

I love your frugal blog!

You are right about the beans though because they do "stretch" a meal and they are relatively inexpensive and I try to keep a supply of them on hand.

Frugal Guy said...

Hi Martin,

Thanks for the note! I can't begin to count the number of failed experiments I've had in the kitchen...

However, just make sure you aren't making a large quantity of something or that you aren't under the pressure of a more formal meal situation if you aren't sure of what you are doing.

Other than that, the not so great concoctions and outright failures are what make the successes taste so darn good!

Anonymous said...

my wife always beats eggs into the ground beef before making pan-fried hamburgers. the mix ends up making many more hamburgers than you'd imagine.

Frugal Guy said...

Anon, thanks for the tip!

OSB Oblate said...

There is only two of us at home so if I make meatloaf it will last for a week. I like to saute some veggies and add two slices of the leftover meatloaf to the pan when the veggies are cooked. I crumble up the meatloaf first. For example tonight I sauted some fennel, cauliflower, and zuchinni - and I used low-fat chicken stock instead of oil or butter. Then I chipped up a couple of slices of leftover meat loaf and added it to the pan, along with a can of stewed tomatoes. The result was a sort of stew. I served it with a little shredded cheese.
Tomorrow I'll reheat some slices of meatloaf in a non-stick frying pan, boil some new potatoes, and heat a can of green beans.
One meatloaf makes a whole week's worth of meals for us, so ground beef turns out to be a frugal buy.

Anonymous said...

unless you grind your own hamburger you'll never be sure of what's really in it... don't believe the 'FDA meat inspector" fantasy, they don't exist anymore.

since, your body really can't make use of more than 4 or 5 ounces of meat a couple of times a week, consider making stir fry.

you can thinly slice the lowliest piece of meat or rubber chicken, cook it up (set aside) cook up your veggies, and mix to heat thru. serve on rice or other grain.

with the right spices or condiments you can pass it off as mexican, indian or chinese.

there's no reason to waste money on stale over processed corporat food, so save the convience food for times your too tired to cook.

light & love buzzy^

Anonymous said...

Make meatsauce go further by adding finely diced vegetables and oatmeal cereal. Don't use the powdered type, but the one with rolled oats. Nobody will notice the couple of handsfulls in your sauce - they soak up the other flavours. They are cheap and good for you. Serve with rice, beans or spaghetti. Hope this helps someone. Vibeke

CayceQuilter said...

Thanks OSB Oblate, great ideas. Also anonymous who said to toss in a couple of handfuls of rolled oats--I'm going to try that right.

quikview01 said...

I notice that you have a "thing" for rice (good for you!!) My mom made a dish on a regular basis that was really inexpensive -- she called it "porcupine meatballs".

It was made with ground beef, ketchup (or tomato sauce), rice, various spices (each time she made it, she experimented with different spices), minced onions (if you're so inclined), minced tomatoes, and minced green peppers.

As for amounts of each ingredients, it varies to your likes. Mix all in a bowl, putting in UNCOOKED rice with the hamburger. Make up meatballs, and put in the pressure cooker (pressure cooker works best). You can also use a convection oven, or even a regular pot, just be sure to have plenty of fluids (such as tomato sauce) to keep the meatballs moist and enough fluids to process the rice.)

Speaking of "pressure cookers" - I would HIGHLY recommend (if you can still find it), is T-Fal Infusionware. It is a "pressure cooker" type pot, but what is really nice is that the steam being emmitted is actually COOL to the touch!!! I have cooked a FROZEN 3 lb roast in as little as 45 minutes, coming out like it had been cooked by a slow cooker.

If you are looking for savings, this pot is great!!! I can steam 4-6 potatoes in as little as 10 minutes, as well as bake with it as well. Because it cooks in such little time, energy use is kept to a minimum. With the heavy gauge stainless steel, cleaning is a breeze. I purchased the pot almost 10 years ago, and it still looks and functions like it was brand new.

Frugal Guy said...

Quickview, OSB, Anon,

Thanks a ton for your great comments!

Anonymous said...

This is a really old depression trick but if you dice or shred pototoes into your hamburger meat, it takes on the flavor and texture of the meat so that you can not see it is in there. You can make 1 lb into 3 easily this way and it is healthier. It is great for recipes that call for ground cooked meat like tacos, lasagna, casseroles etc.