Where’s the Beef? 7 Budget-Friendly Recipes

Bite Me More | April 10th, 2018

What’s chock full of protein and won’t make a big dent in your grocery budget? Ground beef, and here, we’ve rounded up seven easy and tasty ways to cook with it.

Jumping on the chuck wagon? Check out this video on how to make the perfect burger.

Spicy Spaghetti & Meatballs

How do you turn tender meatballs into great balls of fire? Simple…just stop, drop and roll. As in, stop what you’re doing, drop the grocery bags and start rolling out these marvellous homemade meatballs. Paired with this robust and spicy spaghetti sauce, this easy dinner is going to get everyone fired up!

Ingredients

Spicy Tomato Sauce

1 tbsp olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 small garlic cloves, minced
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 (28oz) tins San Marzano whole tomatoes
1 small bunch fresh basil, tied together
1 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

Meatballs

2 cups panko bread crumbs
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
2 eggs
2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
2 tbsp flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ lbs lean ground beef
½ lb ground veal

1 cup olive oil, for browning meatballs

Directions

1) For the tomato sauce, in a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-low heat. Add onion and cook for 3 minutes, until softened. Add tomato paste, garlic and crushed red pepper flakes and cook just until fragrant, about 1 minute more. Add tomatoes, breaking them up with a wooden spoon to create smaller chunks. Once sauce comes to a boil, reduce heat to a low simmer. Add basil, salt and pepper and let simmer for 20 minutes. Remove basil and set sauce aside until meatballs are ready.

2) For the meatballs, in a large bowl, combine panko crumbs, parmesan cheese, ricotta cheese, eggs, basil, parsley, garlic, salt and pepper. Mix well to combine. Add ground beef and veal, mixing thoroughly by hand until well combined. Shape into 2-inch meatballs.

3) In a large skillet, heat 1 cup olive oil over medium-high heat. Brown meatballs in batches, being sure not to overcrowd the pan, about 4-5 minutes per side until both sides are browned. Remove from pan and drain on paper towel. Place meatballs into simmering tomato sauce and cook covered for 15-20 minutes more.

Yield: 30-32 meatballs

beefpattymelt

Garlic Toast Meatball Patty Melt

What do you get when you cross a burger, meatball and grilled cheese sandwich? Why, a delicious and satisfying Meatball Patty Melt, of course. Shaped into a patty, meatballs are cooked up on a griddle and nestled between slices of crisp garlic bread, homemade balsamic tomato sauce and gooey provolone cheese. To say that this sandwich is flavorful wouldn’t be doing it justice – every bite is an explosion of deliciousness.

Ingredients

Chunky Tomato Sauce

2 tsp olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
¼ cup red wine
1 (28oz) San Marzano whole tomatoes
¾ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
¼ tsp sugar
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 fresh basil leaves, torn

Meatball Patties

1 lb lean ground beef
1 lb ground veal
1½ cups Japanese panko breadcrumbs
¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs
1 tbsp chopped flat leaf Italian parsley
1 tsp dried oregano
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ cup water

16 slices Sourdough or Rye bread
8 tbsp garlic butter, softened
Kosher salt, to sprinkle on griddle
8 slices provolone cheese

Directions

1) For the tomato sauce, in a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic, stirring frequently until softened, about 2-3 minutes. Add red wine and cook, stirring until almost completely absorbed, 1-2 minutes. Add tomatoes and break up with a wooden spoon to create small chunks. Season with salt, pepper and sugar and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add balsamic vinegar and basil, continuing to simmer 5 minutes more. Remove from heat and set aside.

2) For the meatball patties, in a large bowl, combine ground beef and veal. Add panko breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, eggs, parsley, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper. Mix to combine all ingredients. Add water and mix until incorporated. Shape meat mixture into 8 patties roughly the size of your bread slices.

3) Spread garlic butter over bread slices, on both sides. Toast both sides on a griddle over medium-low heat, until golden. Set aside.

4) Preheat broiler to high.

5) Place flat bottom griddle over medium-high heat and generously sprinkle with kosher salt. This will help create a nice crust on your patty. Grill patties until cooked to desired doneness, about 3 ½ minutes per side depending on thickness.

6) To assemble, place 2 tbsp of tomato sauce on a slice of garlic toast. Place patty over the sauce and add 2 tbsp more tomato sauce. Place a slice of cheese over the sauce and place under the broiler to melt the cheese. Watch carefully because it will burn quickly. Top with another garlic bread slice and serve immediately. Repeat with remaining sandwiches.

Yield: 8 sandwiches

beeflasagna

Deep Dish Meat Lasagna

This deep dish meat lasagna is perfection – not only is it layers of soft noodles, hearty meat sauce and melted cheese, but it’a also a crowd-pleasing comfort food that’s both quick and easy to make.

Ingredients

Meat Sauce

2 lbs lean ground beef
1 (28oz/796ml) can diced tomatoes
1 cup tomato paste
3 tbsp packed brown sugar
1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp dried oregano

Cheese Filling

2 large eggs, lightly beaten
4 cups ricotta cheese
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
1 tsp kosher salt

12 oven-ready lasagna noodles
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided in half
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for topping

Directions

1) Preheat oven to 375°F. Coat a 13×9-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

2) For the sauce, in a large skillet, brown beef over medium-high heat. Drain and return to pan, adding diced tomatoes with their juice, tomato paste, brown sugar, basil, salt and oregano. Bring to a boil and then turn down to low, simmering for 30 minutes.

3) For the cheese filling, in a medium bowl, whisk eggs, ricotta, Parmesan, basil and salt.

4) To assemble, spread 1 cup of meat sauce in the prepared dish. Top with 4 noodles, 1/2 of the ricotta mixture, 11/2 cups mozzarella and 1 cup meat sauce. Top with 4 more noodles, remaining ricotta and remaining mozzarella. Place 4 remaining noodles on top, cover with remaining meat sauce and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake uncovered for 35 minutes.

Serves 8

beefchili

The Best Beef Chili

This Blazing Beef and Bean Chili is hot stuff. A dynamite mix of chili powder, red pepper flakes and cayenne, mingled with intense cocoa powder, sweet tomatoes, fiber-rich beans and well-seasoned meat, it can rival any Lone Star chili joint. In a big bowl or piled atop a hot dog or fries, this one is a Chilympic winner.

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil
2 medium white onions, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, diced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup chili powder
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp brown sugar
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
¼ tsp cayenne pepper

2½ lbs ground beef

1 (28oz) tin diced tomatoes
1 (5.5oz) tin tomato paste
1 cup beef broth
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2½ cups canned red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

Toppings

Sour cream
Shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
Sliced jalapeno pepper
Corn tortillas

Directions

1) In a large soup pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and stir often, cooking 4 minutes. Add diced red pepper, garlic, chili powder, cumin, paprika, cocoa powder, salt, oregano, red pepper flakes, brown sugar, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Cook for 1 minute to combine spices, stirring continuously. Add the ground beef and cook 10 minutes until no longer pink. Break beef up with a wooden spoon as it cooks. Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, beef broth and cider vinegar. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add kidney beans and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes more.

2) Serve topped with sour cream, cheddar on Monterey Jack cheese, sliced jalapeño and/or fried tortilla strips (cut corn tortillas into thin strips, fry in 1-inch of oil for 1-2 minutes and season with a little salt).

Serves 8-10

beefpolenta

Bolognese-Smothered Parmesan Polenta

While we never tire of spaghetti (yes, we’re carbaholics), we do like to change things up a bit, especially with this Parmesan Polenta. Topped with our homemade rich and robust Bolognese sauce, cheesy polenta never tasted so great!

Ingredients

Creamy Polenta

5 cups water
1 tsp kosher salt
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Bolognese Sauce

1 lb lean ground beef
1/4 cup milk
3 1/2 cups chopped mushrooms (you can use a variety of button, shiitake, cremini)
1 large carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 small red onion, finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 cups tomato sauce
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 piece of Parmesan rind, 2-3 inches long (the rind is the outside edge on a chunk of fresh Parmesan)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Directions

Creamy Polenta

1) Coat an 11×7-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. In a large pot, bring 5 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of salt to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and slowly add the cornmeal, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, about 10 minutes. The mixture should be thick and smooth.

2) Remove from heat, stir in 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese and spoon into prepared baking dish. Set aside.

Bolognese Sauce

1) For the sauce, in a large skillet, sauté ground beef over medium-high heat, breaking it up as it cooks. Cook for 5 minutes, or until it is no longer pink. Drain in colander and return beef to skillet.

2) Add milk to skillet and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes, until milk is absorbed. Add mushrooms, carrot, onion, garlic, basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Cook over medium-low heat for 8 minutes, until the onion is softened.

3) Add tomato sauce, red wine and Parmesan rind to the meat mixture. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer partially covered for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and discard Parmesan rind.

4) For serving, slice polenta into 6-8 servings and spoon Bolognese sauce over each portion. Finish with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Serves 6-8

beefsliders

Saucy Italian Meatball Sliders

Want the perfect cocktail party conversation starter? These Meatball Sliders will do all the talking…”Yum, yum, yum…” Smothered in a homemade, hearty tomato sauce and sandwiched between melted mozzarella, parmesan and soft buns, these Meatball Sliders will leave everyone speechless.

Ingredients

Tomato Sauce

1 tbsp olive oil
1 large red onion, finely chopped
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 (28oz) tin crushed tomatoes
1 (28oz) tin diced tomatoes
¼ tsp dried oregano

Meatballs

3 slices white bread, crust removed, torn into bite-sized pieces
½ cup milk
1¼ cups ground beef
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 large egg
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
½ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

20 small dinner rolls/buns
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

1) For the tomato sauce, in a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, salt and pepper, cooking 5 minutes until softened. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds stirring constantly. Add tin of crushed tomatoes, tin of diced tomatoes and oregano. Turn heat to low and simmer 15 minutes.

2) For the meatballs, in a medium bowl, combine bread and milk, letting it stand for a few minutes. Add ground beef, garlic, egg, Parmesan, basil, salt and pepper. Mix with hands, just until combined. Roll mixture into about 20 meatballs the size of golf balls. Drop meatballs into prepared sauce and bring to a gentle simmer over medium-low heat for 30 minutes, until meatballs are cooked through.

3) To assemble the meatball subs, preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with non-stick cooking spray. Arrange rolls on tray with the cut side up. Place 1 meatball on half of each roll, add a spoonful of sauce on top of the meatball and a tablespoon of mozzarella cheese. On the other half of the bun, put a small spoonful of sauce and 1 tsp of Parmesan cheese. Repeat with remaining meatballs. Bake 3 minutes or until cheese melts. Sandwich together and serve.

Yield: 20 mini meatball subs

beefpineapplemeatballs

Sweet & Sour Pineapple Meatballs

Can’t you just hear Elvis strumming a uke? See Harry Truman sporting an Aloha shirt? Well, now you can taste some Polynesian paradise in these sweet and sour pineapple meatballs. Rock-a-hula Baby and get rolling on these supremely saucy, tender spheres best piled atop a Mauna-kea (white mountain) of rice.

Ingredients

Meatballs

2 lbs lean ground beef
1 cup breadcrumbs
3/4 cup milk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Sweet and Sour Pineapple Sauce

3 cups canned pineapple chunks, with syrup
1 3/4 cup Heinz chili sauce
1 cup cubed red bell pepper
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 cup water

Directions

1) For the meatballs, preheat oven to 500°F. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with non-stick cooking spray.

2) In a large bowl, mix the ground beef, breadcrumbs, milk, eggs, salt and pepper until combined. Add 2 handfuls of very cold water to the bowl and mix until combined. Shape the beef mixture into 1-inch meatballs. Place in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet and bake 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven and drain on paper towel.

3) For the sauce, in a large saucepan, combine pineapple chunks (with syrup), chili sauce, red peppers, soy sauce, vinegar and brown sugar. Place cornstarch in a small dish, stir in 1 cup of water until smooth and add to saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, continuously stirring until sauce thickens. Gently stir meatballs into sauce, cooking until heated through.

Serves 8-10

Authors of bestselling cookbooks Bite Me, Bite Me Too and Lick Your Plate, saucy sisters Julie Albert and Lisa Gnat love eating, feeding, entertaining and dishing up easy recipes at BiteMeMore.com.