When we were on our spending freeze I felt like I was watching my kids every bite. Calculating when I will need to go to the store and buy more and what deals I would need to start looking at. Yes, yes, slightly crazy I know. You will be glad to hear I’m not as bad now that we aren’t paying a double mortgage and utility bills. We have some breathing room.
Yet it is always worth it to be frugal minded. Food is something we need, every- single-day. So it would make sense that a huge part of our budget goes toward this. Even if our incomes increase why not still make the most out of what you have and get the biggest bang for your buck?
Here are my best tips for stretching a pound of hamburger.
Start with Meatloaf
I have a lot of go-to recipes that call for ground beef, and it is more economical. I love the big packages at BJ’s and can make meals and freeze them for the weeks ahead. I always divide the packs from BJ’s into one pound sections.
Add in Veggie Substitutions
One easy favorite recipe is meatloaf. I use homemade breadcrumbs ( never toss out those ends of the bread- you can freeze and blend into breadcrumbs before you cook), or substitute rolled oats or cooked rice for the breadcrumbs in a recipe. I make a meal for all of us out of about 1.5 lbs of ground beef by adding finely chopped vegetables, or pulverize them in the food processor. This method also works great for venison.
I chop a mixture of mushrooms so finely to add to ground meat and my kids have never noticed. One child likes mushrooms plain with ranch the other who is three says- “No thank you”. But when it’s ground up and they see what resembles beef they go for it.
I shred a lot of zucchini in the summer and freeze it, and add that to my meatloaf along with ketchup, bell peppers (these get expensive in the winter, so I get seconds at farms over the summer, chop and freeze them and use them all winter), onions, garlic and steak seasonings. The vegetables and oatmeal bulk it up and add flavor, so my family doesn’t miss the more meaty loaves of the past. If you want to freeze veggies I recommend blanching them first.
Add Soups to Your Menu
Soups are a great option to make to stretch meat because a pound of meat goes far in that as well. One of our newer favorites here is a one pot “unstuffed cabbage roll” which comes out like a stew. My recipe is a combination of several I have seen online.
How to Make It
I take half of a large head of cabbage and chop it fine. I also dice an onion. Then I brown 1-1.5 lbs beef. When it is no longer pink, I add the onion (sometimes I add it earlier) and while it is traditional to season with salt and pepper only, I like to add the steak seasoning again. Next, I add a large can of crushed tomatoes (BJ’s sells Contadina, my favorite), a can of tomato sauce (Hunts – also at BJ’s), a cup of water, the chopped cabbage, and 1-2 cups of rice (I don’t measure). I let it simmer until the rice is ready, and has absorbed most of the moisture (20-30 minutes).
I go for recipes that are one pot, and easy to stretch by adding rice. My family eats more rice this way than if I made it as a side-dish, too.