How to Stretch Your Ground Meat by Cutting With Frugal Fillers
Meat is expensive and if yours is like most frugal families, it takes up a significant portion of your grocery budget. While ground beef, ground chicken, ground pork and ground turkey are many times cheaper than full cuts of meat, they are still one of your pricier ingredients.
A cooked pound of ground meat does not actually make very much meat once prepared; it usually only yields 1 to 1 1/2 cups depending on how lean the meat is. How can you stretch a pound of ground meat farther and stretch your hard earned dollars while not giving up healthy food for your family?
How to Cut Ground Meat With Inexpensive Ingredients
One of my favorite secrets for spending less on meat is to do more with the meat I cook. There are inexpensive and healthy ingredients you can mix into ground meat both before and during cooking. (Trust me, your family will NEVER know the difference!)
Before cooking, mix your raw ground meat in a bowl with any combination of fillers. Make sure that you mix them well until thoroughly blended and any large pieces (such as bran flakes) are broken into smaller pieces. If you cut the meat with a lot of dry ingredients, you may need to add some water or raw egg to make it a bit stickier, especially if you’re making meatballs.
Try these ingredients before cooking:
- Cooked rice
- Cooked barley
- Uncooked oats (any variety)
- Bran cereal
- Cracker crumbs
- Bread crumbs
- Crushed croutons
During cooking: Cook your meat as you normally would. Once browned, reduce heat to medium-low and mix in any combination of cooked fillers. Keep the temperature high enough to warm the new ingredients but low enough not to overcook (and dry out) the meat. Add whatever sauces or seasonings your recipe calls for and prepare your meal normally with your new ground meat mixture.
Try these fillers during cooking:
- Cooked beans (any variety). Stir to mix well or mash for creamier texture. Especially works well for tacos, quesadillas, and nachos.
- TVP/TSP. Textured soy or vegetable protein is my favorite cutting ingredient. You can buy it in the health food or bulk section at your grocery store. It comes in dry granules; to prepare just add warm water and let it absorb. Mix with your ground meat and heat. The texture and look blends into the meat so perfectly that you can’t tell it’s there, and like tofu, it will absorb whatever flavor it cooks with. It’s so cheap and high in protein that you can’t go wrong!
Homemaker Barbi Says: Experiment to discover which ingredients work the best for you. I normally stretch one pound of meat into the equivalent of 2 to 3 pounds using oats, rice and TSP. My family loves the meals and no one is the wiser!