Cooking On A Budget: Budget Cooking: Ground Beef and Red Sauce Recipes

Friday, July 11, 2014

Budget Cooking: Ground Beef and Red Sauce Recipes

So many Americans in this country are struggling to feed themselves and their families and the more I read and hear on the news, it's getting worse.

According to the website, Feeding America: "In many ways, America is the land of plenty. But for 1 in 6 people in the United States, hunger is a very real struggle. Many people believe that the problems associated with hunger are confined to small pockets of society, certain areas of the country, or certain neighborhoods, but the reality is much different.

Right now, millions of Americans are at risk of hunger.  These are often hard-working adults, children and seniors who simply cannot always make ends meet and may be forced to go without food." 
If you are one of those who struggles or if you know someone who struggles my hope is that I can do a small part in helping you get food on the table without breaking the bank.
My last article encouraged you to garden if you have an area to plant or do container gardening. We are lucky as we have about one quarter acre to our property and my husband LOVES to garden - he takes pride in it. And tomato plants are the number one thing he puts in the garden. At harvest time we gather up the tomatoes and tag team to make canned tomato sauce. From last years harvest we have about 6 jars left. The fact that you can make your own sauce and that it's from fresh tomatoes that you have year round is a plus. However if you don't have a garden I recommend making a large batch of spaghetti sauce from scratch using the canned tomato products. For my spaghetti sauce recipe just follow the link. Or a quick marinara sauce that's so great with ravioli, tortellini - any pasta and a good sauce for certain fish recipes. Either of those red sauces make a great base for making chili as well.
I said all of that to get you to make a big batch of sauce. If I need canned tomato products I generally wait for the sales and you should also. My store offers 10 for $10.00 so at $1.00 per can you can pick up one can or as many as you can afford. Sauce freezes well when cooled down properly and lasts for months in the freezer. Now here's some great recipes you can make with your sauce for not a ton of money and they are kid friendly meals.
I know the price of beef has gone through the roof over the last six months. However you may have an opportunity to pick up a family pack when the ground chuck goes on sale at your store or perhaps a food warehouse has a deal going on. The reason I suggest ground chuck is that because of the fat content it has much more flavor and is usually less expensive than ground sirloin. Get a large family pack when you can and plan on making some great dishes with it.
Ground beef freezes well but I don't like freezing meat any more than two weeks if I can help it. When you get the beef home (hopefully you meal planned ahead of time) and you can separate out the meat into the portions you'll need for each meal.

Tex-Mex Goulash is so easy and comes together really quickly once you have some sauce made. You can use either spaghetti sauce or the marinara in this dish. The only extra ingredients to this dish are chopped green chilies (small can) and a small green bell pepper. The other day I picked up a can of the well known product Ro-Tel at Wal-Mart for 89¢ for a 10 ounce can. Ro-Tel is diced tomatoes and green chilies. If it is less expensive for you - then pick up 3 cans ($2.67) or 4 cans ($3.56) and use this along with some ground beef to make this Tex-Mex Goulash.

Or, if you prefer you could make my original American Goulash II recipe. And if you happen to get the ground beef at a good price and make a large amount of the meat and sauce mixture for a left over meal, you can make a mock chili recipe out of it for a different meal altogether.

Another great ground beef casserole is my Traditional Beef Shepherds Pie. What makes mine rather special is that I make this after I have made a Pot Roast Dinner and have extra gravy to use in the dish. If you don't have beef gravy available from a previous dinner you could make a quick beef gravy or purchase a jar variety you like. This post shows you how to make the gravy, but I will tell you ahead of time I use Campbells® Beef Broth and the cans cost $1.99 each, so you may want to consider another brand of beef broth if that (Campbells®) is out of your price range.

A good meatball recipe if you are having spaghetti and meatball dinner is my recipe which has become my go to recipe for making meatballs. I've found that a combination of ground beef and ground pork makes the meatballs taste so much better. But if you have a family recipe, by all means keep using it!

My husband is 100% Swedish and he loves the recipe that was handed down from his Grandmother to his Mom and to him. This simple recipe for Swedish Meatballs with the sauce I created for it would make a wonderful meal served over egg noodles for a delicious and filling meal. Since the meatballs are made small this is definitely a budget stretcher. 

Make a big batch of chili for the family and you eat it forever - unless you have 8-10 hungry mouths, right? When my husband makes his Chili Recipe he's makes quite a bit of it. Instead of just reheating the chili again as is why not make Aunt Bee's Recipe for Left-Over Cornbread Chili Bake.

And you could also make a version of my Beef Mexicana Tortilla using the left over chili recipe of your choice in place of the fresh ground beef mixture and keep the Queso sauce and top with some cheese for a whole new meal served on a crispy tortilla.

Once again I look to my wonderful blogger friend Brandi of Aunt Bee's Recipes for some of her inexpensive ground beef dishes. This is a soup recipe using ground beef. Zucchini, Tomato and Ground Beef Soup.
Now you can change this recipe a bit to make it less expensive by using one pound of ground beef instead of two and ramp up on the vegetables since zucchini in the store is priced low and if you grow it and the tomatoes in your garden this is way inexpensive. To make a dish like this stretch to feed many would be to add some cooked pasta in it.

Another really great and easy sauce to put together is my Roasted Red Peppa Sauce and serve it over raviolis.The fact that I got a large but inexpensive jar of roasted red peppers at a job lot store and the ravioli's were on sale for $1.00 a bag brought the cost of this dinner to $4.28. The flavor is fabulous and I think your kids will love this as well. Substitution of pasta is not out of the question - use whatever you like.

This post has been all about red sauces and ground beef that you can use to make really tasty, sometimes really quick to put together dinners for you and your family. The key is searching out your grocery store flyer and planning out your meals ahead. That way you take advantage of the sale items and maybe are able to pick up a jar, can or boxed good that you will need a short time down the road.

Again, take advantage of perusing the Job Lot Stores food sections, a Wal-Mart that has groceries in it, check out the food warehouses. Never be ashamed to visit the local food bank in your area to help you out and remember too, that lots of Churches have food banks and offer suppers to those in need.

Finally a huge thank you to Brandi Burgess of Aunt Bee's Recipes for being so generous with allowing me to post a couple of her recipes and sending along the photographs as well.

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