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Budget meals stretching ground beef?


As I have posted before, my husband and I are trying to get by on extremely little at the moment. I am trying to be an extremely frugal housekeeper and, as such, am looking to stretch my last 6 ounces of ground beef that are currently residing in my freezer. How can I turn this into a dinner for two?

Thank you all so very much. I'm just starting out, and I think of you all as my aunts and uncles stretching across the country (and around the world!) and appreciate all of your wisdom so much.

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  1. What else is in the fridge/freezer/pantry? :)

    4 Replies
    1. re: DuchessNukem

      I have a very well-stocked spice rack (lots of Indian spices and curry pastes in addition to the more everyday spices) and lots of grains and pulses (short- and long-grain brown rice, bulgur, lentils, red beans, black beans.) I have onions, shallots, garlic, and a few basic veggies (carrots, celery, cilantro, jalapenos.) I'm happy to pick up inexpensive items, though, that I don't have on hand.

      1. re: oldfangled

        Combine an equal amount of ground beef and uncooked rice. Season with your favorite spice mixture. Garam masala might work or if you have them, a blend of allspice, cloves, cinnamon, cumin and coriander. Stuff the combination into blanched onions you have peeled and cored. Braise in tomato sauce with lemon juice, parsley and hot pepper until the stuffing is cooked through.

        1. re: oldfangled

          I'd make a kheema with that bit of ground beef, your spices. You could stretch it with some added rice, peas, and homemade naan. Good eats, cheap.

          1. re: oldfangled

            I find that combining lentils and ground beef at a 1:2 or even a 1:1 ratio is almost unnoticeable, especially if they're the brown lentils. I do it for health reasons, but it'll save money. I can do this no matter what I'm cooking with the beef - meatloaf, shepherd's pie, sloppy joes - whatever! Rice will stretch it further, of course.

        2. Add a rinsed and drained can of black beans, some seasoning, and a cup of cooked rice and you have the makings for 3-4 burritos!

          1. Sounds like pantry is well provided. I kinda see veggies missing.

            I'm on a beans-greens-sausage (or other meats) kick right now. One idea is to panfry the ground beef and then sauce to taste, and add beans and a sauteed green (chard, spinach, steamed zucchini, chopped broccoli, etc.). Place in bowl and add raw garnishes (chopped onions, peppers, cilantro, avocado, chopped tomatoes) and enjoy.

            1. Here’s an inexpensive, filling, and tasty Moroccan-style dish based on a recipe from Copeland Marks’ “The Great Book of Couscous”:

              Meatballs: Combine ground beef with small amounts of salt, pepper, ground cumin, slightly more paprika, 1 chopped shallot or 1/4 - 1/3 chopped onion. Form into balls about ¾ inch in diameter. Don’t go too light on the spices because they also flavour the sauce.

              Sauce: Combine 1 can diced tomatoes, 4 tbsp. olive oil or other oil or fat, ¼ cup water.

              Bring sauce ingredients to a low simmer and continue covered for 15 minutes. Add meatballs and cook for 15 minutes. (Can also add an egg toward the end and poach until firm but with a loose yolk.)

              Serve with rice and perhaps sprinkle some cilantro on top.

              1. Dirty rice.... ground beef with rice, onion, celery, carrot, and favorite seasonings. You could stretch it to make 4 good sized servings.

                1. One of my favorite comfort food meals is ground beef onion gravy over rice or mashed potatoes Could stretch it to 4 meals easy.

                  Since you have indian spices how about a spicy dal over rice, save the ground beef for another meal.

                  1. Whatever you end up making, if you plan on draining the fat once the ground beef is browned, you could take the drippings and make a good sized batch of Yorkshire pudding with it and eat it along with the entree you make.

                    1. Cabbage roll casserole? Saute up some cabbage (cheap!) and rice (cheap!) and add tomato paste or sauce or whatever you've got tomato-y, maybe bit of garlic, some onion - add browned ground beef - bake in casserole dish. Totally one of those tastes-greater-than-the-sum-of-its-parts things.

                      1. Fry lots of finely chopped onions, garlic and chili paste together with the mince.Cook plenty of rice and veges.
                        Day one: rice, veges and spicy mince
                        Day 2:: fry up all left overs, incl of rice, add a bit of soy and you got a nice fried rice dish. Serve with fried egg on the top and some cucumber to the side

                        1. I saw below you listed some pantry items. If you wanted to do something as simple as burgers, you can always add bread crumbs to enlarge your dish, or mash up beans to add to it. I'm in same situation and have actually found ground beef is a little costly lately. If I do buy it, I buy it in bulk....usually about $1 cheaper if I'm willing to spend the money for 3 lbs.

                          Things I do to make my small portions last is buy thick rolls! Add lots of lettuce, a nice thick slice of tomato and raw onion. (or sauteed). Cheese if I have it, but not essential. When Using as small portion I also like to make the burgers somewhat bigger, which means thinner. Takes literally second to cook. With all the other stuff on the burger, it's filing

                          Some other things I've found have saved me money.
                          Cube steak - steak sandwiches, Country fried steak, steak and eggs.
                          Chicken tenders, chicken thighs and drumsticks - usually cheaper than breasts.
                          Instant mashed potatoes - CHers will crucify me, but it's simple and quick and filling...and cheap. Which reminds me...back to your dilemma.

                          Saute with onions and garlic, quickly add beef to slightly brown.
                          Put mixture in dish and season with salt and pepper.
                          Pour can of mixed vegetables over the meat (minus liquid)
                          Make mashed potatoes and put them evenly over the veggies.
                          Bake for about twenty minutes (not exact, just let things meld together
                          Bastardized sheperds pie (cottage pie really)

                          1. One thing I used to do when I was on a budget was make lasagna. To add body where it was short on meat I would use lentils instead, plus I tend to make a white sauce rather than a cheese sauce to add a creamy layer. I'd even grate carrot into the sauce.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Musie

                              Or even just spaghetti with meat sauce. I get 6 meals out of 1# pasta and jar of sauce. Adding a little meat will make it more filling.

                            2. Chili or a stir-fry served over rice. I use whatever vegetables are on hand when I make a stir-fry, and often include cooked legumes if there's not enough animal protein for the batch.

                              1. Thank you all so very much. It is so nice to have all of these great options! I'll let you know what I end up making tonight :)

                                1. I highly recommend the following book:


                                  I've made quite a few recipes in it already (with a little tweaking of course). Good stuff overall.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: stormshadow

                                    Thanks for posting it, I hadn't heard of that cookbook.

                                  2. I recently stretched a little ground beef by browning it and adding it to sauteed eggplant, onions, green pepper, garlic and chopped tomatoes and added cumin, coriander and ground chile powder. You could stir in parsley or cilantro if you have it. The eggplant is meat-like so it feels like a very meaty dish. It would be great over rice, though I filled pita breads and topped with raw onions and a cucumber-yogurt sauce. It was pretty tasty.

                                    1. You could make sloppy Joes which are quite filling. A ground beef casserole or a stir fry with pasta, green peppers, onion and some soy sauce.

                                      1. I combined a few of your ideas - we're in the middle of a heat wave here in Southern California (as is so much of the country) and so I really didn't want to turn on the oven. I ended up making a sort of inverted cottage pie - beef and onion and carrots and celery in an onion gravy over mashed potatoes. It was delicious and only cost something like $1.50 for the two of us. Thank you so much!

                                        1. A little ground beef goes a long way in moussaka. IT can make use of the glut of summer squashes that seem to pile up on doorsteps, though eggplant and potato are more traditional layering components. As a bonus, moussaka freezes extremely well- you can make a whole casserole, cut and wrap individual portions, and have it ready to go on a moment's notice, thawing/heating in the microwave.

                                          Good luck!

                                          Auntie Snisl

                                          1. Six ounces will make a meat sauce for pasta - add more vegetables (like carrot) to bulk it out.

                                            Or mix the sauce with cooked rice and use it to stuff blanched lettuce leaves which will just need a bit of warming through in the oven or microwave. We usually make a hot vinaigrette to drizzle over these.

                                            Or make a keema curry. I'd also make a vegetable curry using whatever is in season and cheap where you are. Have it with rice or bread.