A close up of food on a plate, with Meatloaf

How to Make High Cost of Ground Beef Easier to Swallow

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says in 2019 the average price of a pound of lean ground beef climbed to a whopping $5.63 per pound. If you and your family are not ready to turn vegetarian—nor are you prepared to pay that much for a pound of quality hamburger—you do have another option: Get creative. Okay, maybe a little sneaky, too.

A close up of a plate of food, with Ground beef

But first, let’s talk turkey. I mean, ground beef. The really lean option of ground beef, 93/7, is not easy to prepare well. That’s because there’s not enough fat in it to turn out juicy, delicious fare. Lean ground beef requires seasoning as well as careful cooking.

Let’s say that you, like I, prefer organic, lean ground beef. Yesterday I paid $5.00 per pound for best quality at my supermarket, on sale. Yikes! But I didn’t really pay that. My effective cost is more like $3.24 per pound. How? Please don’t tell a soul … I stretch it. I take the best quality ground beef and then “extend” it by at least one-third. So whatever the price in the store, I mentally reduce it by 33% to get my effective cost.

A close up of food, with Ground beef

How to stretch ground beef

Sounds horrible, I know. But it’s not. By mixing in something with the ground beef to make it go farther, I get results that are so much better than the beef alone. I’m always doctoring, seasoning, adding this or that depending on what I’m making.

Take meatloaf for example. I wouldn’t be surprised if just the word “meatloaf” makes you respond with a resounding “Yuck!” That’s because a brick of ground beef stuck in the oven with a little salt and pepper is going to turn out dry as shoe leather, and about as tasty.

But take that same amount of ground beef and mix it with a few, well-chosen ingredients, then bake it up or put it on the grill. You are going to be amazed. Even your children are going to say it’s great, and ask you to do that again. And again.

 

Just don’t be so anxious to tell your secrets. There’s something about adding stuff to ground beef that grosses people out.

Rice

When browning ground beef for anything like tacos, chili or sloppy Joes, add one cup of cooked rice for every pound of meat, just after draining the grease. Your family will never know. The rice (brown or white) takes the seasoning very well and visually so that it looks like it is all ground beef.

Potato

Add grated potato or dry potato flakes to hamburger meat for any Mexican dish like tacos or chili.

Bulgar wheat

Cook it first in water until soft according to label instructions. Then add to any recipe calling for ground beef and tomato sauce, reducing the amount of ground beef you use to accommodate the addition of the bulgur wheat.

Pureed vegetables

Roast them first, then puree in the food processor or blender. Add one cup per pound of ground beef.

Fillers

Add one-half cup of pre-cooked lentils, kasha, quinoa or beans to the raw ground beef. Now cook it just as if you would if it were all ground beef.

Stale bread

Tear it up into little bits. Add an egg and spices to make meatballs and burgers.

Turkey

Ground turkey is very lean and often lacking in flavor. And it’s dry. Mix 50/50 with ground beef for fabulous results.

Meatloaf

Here’s my family’s all-time favorite recipe for meatloaf. This is the way your grandma made it, trust me on this. This is the recipe that made the house smell great, that went perfectly with mashed potatoes, and which you knew you could eat every day of your life and never get tired of it.

This is the recipe that will make your family hope and pray there will be leftovers for tomorrow. If you follow this recipe well, the kids will never know you used bread, carrots, and cheese to turn 1 1/2 pounds of ground beef into more like 3 pounds.

 

A close up of food on a plate, with Meatloaf.

A close up of food on a plate, with Meatloaf

Best Meatloaf Ever

Here’s my family's all-time favorite recipe for meatloaf. This is the way your grandma made it, trust me on this. This is the recipe that made the house smell great, that went perfectly with mashed potatoes, and which you knew you could eat every day of your life and never get tired of it.
4.5 from 10 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 494kcal
Cost: About $8

Ingredients

Meatloaf

  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup milk, whole or 2%
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 slices dry bread, crumbled finely
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrot, extra fine, or chopped in blender for picky eaters
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Glaze

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon prepared yellow mustard

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • Whisk eggs, milk, salt, and pepper in large bowl. Add crumbled bread and stir until dissolved.
  • Mix ground beef, chopped onion, Cheddar cheese, and carrot into bread mixture.
  • Transfer to a 9x5-inch loaf pan. Press firmly into pan.
  • In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, ketchup, and mustard. Spread over meat mixture.
  • Bake until no longer pink in the center, for an hour. Check at one hour with an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center. It should read 160 F. Do not over bake. Servings: 6

Nutrition

Calories: 494kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 29g | Fat: 32g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Cholesterol: 158mg | Sodium: 1192mg | Potassium: 500mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin A: 2145IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 243mg | Iron: 3mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @EverydayCheapskate or tag #EverydayCheapskate!

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21 replies
« Older Comments
  1. Chris Pederson says:

    I never thought about stretching out the beef so you get more bang for your buck. I’ll see if I can find some good sides to put with it. It would make getting that prime ground beef more worth it.

    Reply
  2. PJ says:

    4 stars
    I like to get the 90/10 or 93/7 when I can get it on sale as well. Recently Fresh Thyme had their 93/7 ground beef on sale for 3.99/lb. I stocked up! I will add some 80/20 ground beef if I’m making burgers, but for meatloaf (my husband loves my meatloaf) I add a can of condensed French onion soup (undiluted) a heaping 1/2 cup or so of Italian style bread crumbs (if you don’t have Italian style, add 1/4 tsp each of garlic powder, onion powder, and parsley flakes, if you want to, plain bread crumbs are good too), and at least one raw egg, a second can be added if the mixture is too dense to about 1 lb of ground beef. I put this in my loaf pan and cook for about an hour at 325 degrees covered with foil, then I uncover the meatloaf, turn the oven down about 50 degrees, and glaze it with a mixture of ketchup and grape jelly (about 1/2 cup ketchup to 1/4 cup grape jelly – stir well, heat in the microwave about 30 seconds to ‘melt’ the jelly). Put back in the oven uncovered then for the last 20 – 30 minutes, until the glaze is set and the kitchen smells of barbeque! Makes great sandwiches the next day.

    Reply
  3. Kate Miller says:

    4 stars
    There’s another sneaky way to help stretch your ground beef, turkey or pork and nobody will know, unless they look in your freezer. When browning your meat, go ahead and brown then entire pound. Then, set aside a few tablespoons of the meat. While that’s cooling, put together the rest of your recipe. Now, take that set aside bit of meat and put it in a bag in your freezer. Nobody will miss that little bit of meat and depending on how often you have ground beef, in a little while, you’ll have a whole pound, already cooked and ready for casseroles, for free.

    Reply
  4. Rachael says:

    My moms meatloaf was similar to your recipe, except for the grated carrot. She always made a ditch down the middle of the loaf and put in green peas and cheese, then covered it over with the meatloaf mix. Each slice was almost half veggies.

    Reply
  5. Pam H. says:

    5 stars
    Hi Mary: Seeing the post on meatloaf, I have to tell you about an ingredient I put into my meatloaf, and my family LOVES it. I add about 1/3 cup of A-1 steak sauce. It gives a sort of Italian flavor. Try it.

    Reply
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