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
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