By hiding fresh vegetables in your ground beef, you not only make each pound of expensive meat go further, you sneak in nutrients that your veggie-haters may not be getting otherwise.
Typically the only meat we buy around here is chicken and ground beef. I use chicken in several slow cooker recipes and ground beef in some of our favorite casseroles and other dishes. We also stock our deep freeze with turkey and ham during the holidays when prices are great.
Most of my kitchen efforts are done in bulk to save time and effort in clean-up. Stretching ground beef is no different. I usually do around 5 pounds of ground beef at a time. I can make 5 pounds of ground beef last us several months.
There isn’t a strict recipe to follow. For 5 pounds of meat, I use about 5 pounds of veggies. I use a combination of carrots, onion and/or celery, depending on what I have on hand. This time, I had carrots and onions from our garden and some celery that was starting to get floppy in the fridge.
Start by washing and peeling your veggies. Then, using a food processor, puree the vegetables.
We affectionately call our food processor “The Gonzo.” It’s fitting, don’t you think? We got this baby as a wedding gift eight years ago and we love it!
I brown the ground beef and veggies in four installments since it won’t all fit in my pan at once. The meat and vegetables go in the pan together and I brown them just as I would plain meat.
It is a little more steamy since the veggies have lots of water in them.
I drain any grease off, just as I normally would.
Since I divided my meat up into quarters, I did this four times. When I finish each pan, I put the cooked meat and veggie mix into a large metal bowl to cool off just a tad. I spoon about 3/4 lb into a zip-top sandwich bag, then put the bags into gallon freezer bags. I don’t reuse the bags that have meat in them and I don’t feel as bad throwing away the thin zip-top sandwich bags. The gallon-size freezer bag stays clean and I reuse it.
I have heard that adding oats is another way to stretch your ground beef. As an experiment, I tried adding oats instead of veggies to the last quarter of my ground beef, since it will be months before I brown hamburger again.
I was sorely disappointed. The oats just absorbed the grease and stuck to the pan in a major way. Did I do it wrong? Has anyone had success with this method? I think I’ll stick to veggies. 🙂
Making expensive meat go further is nice on the budget, and sneaking veggies in is nice for the body. If that doesn’t convince you, consider the convenience factor. I love having baggies of frozen browned hamburger all ready to add to my dinner recipe. That takes care of what is often the most time-consuming part of dinner prep. It’s also nice to not have to wash a greasy pan every time I use beef in a meal.
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