Are you making the most of the best cut of meat for cooking on a budget?
+ Spiced Beef with Hummus

spiced beef with hummus-2

It’s been a while since I wrote about my experience of feeding myself for $5 a day for a whole week. So I thought it was time we had a little focus on budget cooking.

Meat, fish and poultry tend to be some of the most expensive ingredients available. But that doesn’t mean you necessarily need to go vegetarian during times when you don’t have as much cash available as you’d like.

As I discovered, there is one cut of meat that tends to be pretty affordable.

So what is the best cut of meat for cooking on a budget?

Easy. It’s minced or ground meat.

Even if you aren’t keeping an eye on your finances, minced or ground meat can be a great ingredient to work with. As we’ll see below, it’s super versatile.

Not only that, it cooks quickly, is mostly very tender and is delicious. To my mind it’s really the easiest cut of meat to cook.

When I think about it, some of my favourite meat dishes use minced meat. So here are a few ideas to get you started to make the most of the easiest cut of meat to cook…

7 quick & healthy ideas using minced or ground meat

1. beef & broccoli stir fry
An all-time favourite in our house. When I was in New York last year my Irishman made it for himself for dinner 3 nights in a row.

2. baked meatballs
We had these for dinner recently and I’d forgotten how much I love them!

3. salt-crusted burgers with mashy peas
Everyone loves a burger but instead going down the old takeaway path of serving them on a bun, try a more colourful dinner time option of mashed peas.

4. [almost] 15 minute lasagne
Ever made lasagne in 15 minutes? Neither have I but I did come close…

5. chicken & basil stir fry
I love minced chicken in stir frys because it cooks so quickly and you don’t need to worry about it getting overcooked and drying out like when you use chicken breast.

6. buttery zucchini & ground beef
Super quick and easy. I just love how the cooked buttery zucchini compliments the beef here.

7. spiced beef with hummus
See recipe below!

spiced beef with hummus

Spiced Beef with Hummus

serves 2-3

This is one of my all time favourite ways to use minced (ground) beef without any tomato products. It’s based on a Lebanese dish and is great with lamb as well.

Baharat is a wonderful Lebanese spice blend containing 7 different spices. It adds a gorgeous fragrance but if you can’t find it, see below for an easy alternative home made spice blend.

2 onions, peeled & diced
500g (1lb) minced (ground) beef
2 teaspoons baharat
handful pine nuts
8-10 large tablespoons hummus

1. Heat a generous glug of oil in a large frying pan. Cook onion over a medium heat for about 5 minutes, until starting to soften but not brown.

2. Add beef and increase the heat to high. Cook, stirring often until the beef is well browned all over.

3. Add the baharat and stir fry for another minute or so. Taste season.

4. Serve spiced beef on a bed of hummus with pine nuts sprinkled over. Good with a green salad.

can’t find baharat? – No problem. Just use 1/2 teaspoon each of ground coriander, cumin, paprika and cinnamon.

even more minimalist baharat substitute – just use ground cumin.

vegetarian / vegan – replace the beef with lentils that have been simmered in water until tender (anywhere from 15-30 minutes) and drained. Drizzle in a little extra virgin olive oil to make up for the lentils being low in fat.

budget – skip the pine nuts or use toasted bread crumbs instead. You might like to add in some lentils as well to make the beef go further.

home made hummus – just whizz together a can of chickpeas with 1-2 cloves garlic and 3 tablespoons each lemon juice, tahini and the canning liquid.


video version of the recipe


With love,
Jules x


  • Hi Jules, thanks for a great new mince idea (can’t get enough of those!).

    I too love the beef and broc recipe, also the beef and zucc, and the chicken and basil. They are healthy, tasty and practically instant. And hardly any washing up. They would be my regular weekly go tos, however my husband serves his with rice and prefers lots of sauce to go with the rice. He says the texture of the dishes is a bit dry for him (the old food texture thing). Any ideas what to add at the end to make them still clean and tasty but, hmmm, wetter? I’ve tried adding water or stock, but it tastes like I’ve just added a bit of water or stock. I know this may take me over the five ingredients but I am keen to keep cooking them.

    I’ll serve the beef and hummus with some pitta or mountain bread for him and I think that will fly….!

    (I cooked the meatballs again recently after a long break from them, maybe since last winter. They are great for this weather!).

    • Hi Kristen
      I made meatballs recently too.. so good!
      Good question re the sauces.. for beef & broc just serve extra oyster sauce at the table.
      YOu could go for some canned tomatoes in the beef & zuch.
      THe chicken and basil is meant to be dry like a stir fry.. but a little olive oil might help/
      Hope he enjoys the beef with hummus!

  • Hi Jules

    I tried this last night with some added chilli powder and a side of broccolini, it was yum!

    Thanks for another great dish.

  • The spiced beef with hummus is FANTASTIC! I’ve been calling it “deconstructed kibbee”. Kibbee is probably my favorite Lebanese dish and I often “dip” it in hummus, so I knew this would be great. Also, wonderful for the slow-carb diet. Thanks!!

    • Tara!
      So glad you enjoyed the beef with hummus… it’s one of my favs.
      And also glad you’re enjoying Slow-Carb

  • Hi Jules,

    I just stumbled upon your blog last week, and I absolutely LOVE it! I love that all of your recipes aren’t too complicated, and everything is super healthy, and SUPER tasty! I made this recipe for me and a friend tonight – needless to say, we were blown away! It was fantastic! I cannot wait to make another one of your creative dishes!

    From your new loyal follower,

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