BEEF: How can we afford it for dinner?
Part 1: How To Save on Ground Beef
It’s almost grilling season but beef prices are high. In fact, they are at an all-time high and are expected to remain high for the next year or two. Why? The number of cattle in the US is low due to high grain prices and dry weather conditions. Cattlemen are increasing their herds but it takes a long time to increase the number of cattle (a calf born in the spring of 2014 would be bred in 2015, might have a calf by 2016 and that calf couldn’t come to market until 2017).
I love grilled hamburgers, but when prices get over $3.50 a pound I start looking for ways to save. Here are 7 ideas.
1. Buy on sale. Meat usually goes on sale for a week at a time. Stock up and freeze the extra. Keep track of the deals on ground beef and only buy when the sales match your “never-pay-more-than” price.
2. Buy in bulk. If a 10# package costs $.20 less per pound you are saving $2.00 by buying the larger package (If you will take the time to package it correctly when you get home and if you have the space in the freezer to keep it).
3. Mix fresh ground turkey, ground chicken or ground pork with ground beef in equal amounts.
4. Switch to ground pork burgers, ground turkey or chicken burgers instead of beef for your patties.
5. Add TVP (textured vegetable protein) to ground beef. Just add the dry nuggets to the raw ground meat and mix together with your hands or a spoon. Use about one part meat to one part TVP; you can adjust these amounts according to your own preferences.
You can freeze the mixture just as you would plain hamburger or ground meat. Just place meal-sized batches of the meat mixture into freezer bags or containers and freeze. Or make patties and freeze. When you’re ready to use some, just thaw the bag like you would normally.
TVP is sold in most grocery stores in a 10-12 ounce bag. A common brand is Bob’s Red Mill, but any brand is fine. You may have to ask someone to help you find it the first time.
6. Add ¼ -½ cup of crushed cereal, oatmeal, small bread cubes, grated vegetables such as potatoes or carrots, minced mushrooms, cooked rice or mashed beans to the ground beef before you make the patties. The University of Illinois has a publication called Go Further Burgers which gives more details.
7. Instead of having hamburger patties, go with sloppy joes or maidrites. Our Sloppy Joe recipe makes enough filling for 5 generous sandwiches. You could even get 6 servings if needed.
On May 12th I’ll be back with more ways to stretch your meat dollar.