Making the Most of Your Food Budget with Beef

I will be blogging this month about how you can incorporate beef into your healthy diet. These posts are sponsored by the Northeast Beef Promotion Initiative and the Pennsylvania Beef Council, but are expressions of my own.

The great thing about heart-healthy cuts of beef, is that they are also economical. Cuts such as round steak or lean ground beef can work nicely into your food budget. While cuts such as sirloin and tenderloin may cost a bit more, they can stretch a long way with the right recipe.

Ground Beef: Economical and Nutritious

Ground beef is so versatile in the kitchen. It’s certainly a family pleaser, and with it you can create all sorts of healthy, quick meals. Choose lean beef (90-95% lean) when possible. If you are using a higher fat ground beef, brown the meat, and drain off fat, before adding to the recipe. Here are just a few ideas for quick and healthy dinners using ground beef:

  • Chili. A hearty beef chili is versatile and an excellent opportunity to add healthy beans to your diet (beans like kidney beans, black beans, pinto beans), as well as lycopene-rich tomatoes, and vitamin-C and potassium-rich bell peppers.

    This ground beef is 90% lean. Since the Nutrition Facts reflect a 4-ounce portion, that has 11 grams of fat per 4 ounce serving, only 4.5 grams saturated fat, and less than 95 milligrams of cholesterol, it fits the “lean” definition.

  • Stuffed zucchini squash “boats”. Squash is full of vitamins and fiber, and is low in calories. Make a meal out of it by cutting 4 medium zucchini or yellow squash, or one acorn or spaghetti squash in half, scooping out seeds (with summer squash, just spoon out enough squash to make a “bowl”, cook scooped squash with peppers). Saute minced onion, bell peppers, and squash in hot oil, then remove from pan. Season lean ground beef with turmeric, ground pepper, and chili powder. Add beef to pan, and brown. Add pepper mixture back to pan with beef, and mix. Mix the beef mixture with 1 cup cooked brown rice, then fill each squash half with it. Top with 2-3 TB of shredded cheese and bake on a cookie sheet in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until squash is tender. 
  • Beef tacos or wraps. These are kid-friendly and you can really be creative with toppings. If you have a picky eater in the house, try linking favorite ingredients into new meals. Have you even tried peanut butter and jelly in your beef wrap? Try it!
  • Skillet meals. Beefy pasta or Beef with Barley are not only easy to make, but easy to clean up since they use only one pan. By adding high fiber barley, and your favorite vegetables to cooked ground beef, you’ll have a quick, well-balanced, and satisfying family meal. 
  • Classic Meatloaf. This comfort meal is always welcome at the dinner table. Balance out this delicious meatloaf with a side of green beans and mashed potatoes.
  • Enjoy burger night at home. Not only will you control the fat and sodium in your burger when you grill it at home, but you can also get fancy with the toppings. Instead of shredded iceburg lettuce, go for shredded cabbage or baby spinach. Try avocado slices or alfalfa sprouts with sliced tomato. Dice some peppers and onions to make a quick relish of your own by adding flavored vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon of sugar, a pinch of salt, then refrigerating for an hour or more.

Get through the week with these ideas for quick family meals

The classic question: What’s for dinner?, is solved with these easy recipes and ideas. There are so many ways to create quick meals with beef.

  • Leftover Mondays: You don’t have to use sirloin steak to create this steak salad. You can use Sunday’s leftover pot roast and create a new meal with it on Monday night.
  • Taco Tuesday: Add chopped romaine, finely chopped tomatoes, black olives, and bell peppers to your tacos. Pair tacos with a side of red beans and rice (fun fact: crispy taco shells are lower in calories than most soft tortillas). Or make a Taco Salad with lots of leafy greens and veggies.
  • Bow Tie Wednesday: Pasta is so quick and delicious! Add lean beef and asparagus and you have a one dish meal. 
  • Pita Salad Thursday: This recipe is a Greek-inspired version of an open face taco using pita bread.
  • Fajita Fridays: Create a “Make Your Own Fajita Bar” at home. Saute the beef, then set up a buffet with soft whole wheat tortillas along with peppers, and onions low fat sour cream and salsa or homemade Pico de Gallo. Add a mixed fruit bowl as a side dish.

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