Extending Ground Beef

Do you remember when you could find ground beef on sale for 99 cents? I miss those days. Now I’m lucky to find ground chuck for $4.99 a pound. That’s a big difference and now more than ever it’s important to stretch that meat. That’s why I thought it was about time to re-visit this frugal tip on making due with less.

Tip From A HBHW Reader:

When I’m making a recipe that calls for ground beef (e.g. Sloppy Joes), I use half the amount called for and substitute cooked pinto beans, refried beans, and/or shredded potatoes for the other half.

It’s a really good tip and something I’ve done for years. It’s easy to use half when you’re making soup, stew or chili. Just add more vegetables to make up the difference.

When we make sloppy joes, or burgers, I replace half the ground beef with cooked lentils. This also works well with meatloaf. With spaghetti we like black beans. Some weeks, I completely replace the ground beef with black beans, sometimes we do half and half.

Using homemade beef or even chicken stock in your soups, stews and sauces adds a lot of flavor so  you don’t miss the meat as much.

With ground beef prices soaring, use these tips to buy less meat but make your dishes just as tasty.

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Gwen - September 2, 2009

In response to the tip sent in by Summer Hirschi, I also use shredded potatoes to extend ground beef for things like tacos. My kids love it and it’s budget friendly because potatoes are so much cheaper than beef.

Trish - September 8, 2009

How do you cook or prepare the beans for use? Is it the same as making them to eat regularly?

gayle - October 9, 2009

I add cooked rice or barley to ground beef recipes I dont think anyone can tell its there, the sauce etc is soaked into the rice or barley and tastes just like the rest of the meat dish.

Anita - October 16, 2009

I always ‘cut’ my ground beef with TVP (texturized vegetable protein) available by mail order or at any decent-sized health food stores. Some regular grocery stores even carry it in their bulk sections. It has no taste (picks up whatever flavor it is paired with) and cost less than $2/pound. It swells up with water, so it ends up being quite economical. I do not care for the chunks and know few folks who do, but the stuff that lookes like granola blends in well with any ground meat recipe.
Here’s some more info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Textured_vegetable_protein

Charlaine Reynolds - August 31, 2012

I also use tvp granules and they work well in chili.
Bulgur wheat is easy to work with, adds a lot of nutrition for the buck and is now my favorite way to make stuffed peppers – and I’m a deep south girl that has to have my rice!
Especially during warm weather, stuffed peppers can easily be made in the microwave.

wanda chafin - February 2, 2016

I use vegetables in the ground beef for meatloaf .Really any kind of vegetable will do , even a can of drained green beans ..Just fix meat loaf as you normally would and add the vegetable..Makes meatloaf taste even better I think and it extends up to 1/2 lb..

Kim Wilson - February 3, 2016

I add canned tomatoes, corn, mushrooms, and peppers to my meatloaf. :) It adds a lot of flavor and helps with bulk. My family loves it.

I’ve never done any of these other ideas, but am going to give it a try. I know it will help with cost and I really like the health benefits of subbing in some beans, lentils, or bulgur wheat. Thanks for the ideas!

Clare C. - February 3, 2016

I often add bread crumbs to my spaghetti sauce and quick oats to my sloppy joes.

Jennifer Card - February 3, 2016

I use TVP in spaghetti sauce, sloppy joes, and taco meat or anything with a sauce that will add flavor. I wouldn’t mix it with a hamburger as it wouldn’t have enough flavor. It does help a lot to extend the meat since ground beef is so expensive. I use broth to reconstitute the granules when preparing to add it to the beef.

    Jodi - March 26, 2016

    I have also been doing this for maybe 6 months. I use beef bouillon with water to reconstitute. I have kept this a secret from my hubby and three kids. I laugh to myself every time they say how much better my burgers are!! They can’t tell at all!

karen - February 3, 2016

For many things like stew, soup, meat loaf, chili we use wheat berries to extend the hamburger. Just be careful to start with a small amount & gradually increase them into your diet to avoid any gastric distress that some people experience at first. I never had to adjust to them, but my husband did. It’s a great way to start using that hard white or red wheat you have in storage. Better to start using it to it’s fullest now. Wheat sprouts are also good added to salads & stir fry.

Linda - April 30, 2016

For years I used Grapenuts cerial to extend ground beef/sausage in chilis, s.o.s., sloppy joes, salad toppings, put thru the mill and make a crispy coating for chicken, or added to salmon for salmon patties.

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