Tuesday, May 13, 2008

One Pound of Ground Beef, Two Meals for Four

To continue the theme of budget-friendly meals, I made two meals that each use 1/2 pound of ground beef, as well as some pre-frozen ingredients I had on-hand.

On Sunday, I cooked a whole pound of ground beef seasoned simply with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, and refrigerated the cooked meat in two equal portions. This was to facilitate quick-fix meals for Monday and Tuesday.

Obviously you need not make these meals two days in a row--you could freeze your pre-cooked ground beef, or simply portion your uncooked meat in half-pound packages. But however you do this, a little planning goes a long way toward making your grocery budget stretch.

Each paired with a side salad, these are complete, budget-friendly meals. Mr.W was happy with both, which is good news for anyone with a picky eater at home!

Meal One: Dinner Nachos
serves 4

About 10 small corn tortillas, cut into wedges and baked at 350*F or deep-fried to crisp, or about two handfuls corn chips
1/2 pound cooked ground beef
1/2 pound colby jack cheese, shredded
toppings as desired (I used salsa, guacamole and sour cream; in hindsight, I should have added some rinsed and drained canned black beans.)

Spread corn chips on a large rimmed cookie sheet that is lightly oiled. Sprinkle with ground beef and shredded cheese. Bake in a preheated 350*F oven until cheese is melted--about 8 minutes. Top as desired.

Meal Two: Penne Bolognese
serves 4

olive oil
about 10 baby-cut carrots, finely chopped
about 1/3 cup chopped onion (I often buy a jumbo-sized onion, chop and store in the freezer)
1 2-inch piece celery, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, or as desired (optional)
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup frozen baby spinach leaves (optional)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 pound cooked ground beef
2 cups of your favorite spaghetti sauce
2 cups warm water
1/2 pound penne pasta, cooked to al dente according to package directions
about 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
about 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

In a large saucepan over medium heat, saute carrots, onion and celery in olive oil until onion is transparent and carrot is soft. Stir in red pepper; add garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add spinach, vinegar and ground beef. Stir and pour in spaghetti sauce and water. Bring to a simmer.

Add cooked pasta and remove from heat; toss to coat with sauce. Top with cheeses and serve.


Mary said...

Both meals look delicious! I buy huge packages of ground beef and portion them into 1lb. baggies before freezing them. I never thought to cook the beef before portioning. That really would speed up dinners. What a great idea!

Gloria said...

This look soo yummy Amanda!! Delicious mmm.... xxxGloria

Amanda said...

Hi, Mary! I, too, purchase my ground beef in giant packages. Not only do I portion out the meat, I also form meat loaves and meatballs from the raw meat for a time-saver when I'm putting the meals together. I used to pre-cook loose meat a lot more when I was working--it's a real help when you're tired from work and a commute and need to get dinner going.

Thank you, Gloria! They were pretty good--and our problem is definitely over-eating. These meals for 4 were each scarfed by the 2 of us! I know I should be ashamed, but it was sooo good. ;)

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