Adjusting to higher beef prices

Where's the Beef?

by Veronica Bowman

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If you've been to the grocery store recently, you've most likely noticed that grocery prices are continuing to rise. According to statistics and predictions provided here, beef prices will continue to rise. For many families, ground beef is a popular item on the weekly household menu plan. It can be the starting point for numerous delicious, easy, and quick recipes. With the price increase, hamburgers and recipes that include hamburger are becoming somewhat of an indulgence. In order to serve ground beef without breaking the budget, you may need to explore ways to stretch a pound of ground beef. Creativity is a free resource that can help you continue to provide delicious meals for your family in spite of the rising prices.

Dry and canned beans are affordable grocery items. You can adjust some of your recipes so that the amount of ground beef is reduced and beans are used to fill in the remaining required proportion. Mashed black beans, lentils, pinto beans and refried beans are good choices to use to stretch a pound of ground beef. For example, a cup of cooked, mashed pinto beans or a cup of cooked lentils can be used in a meatloaf recipe. That adjustment will enable you to reduce the amount of ground beef needed to half of a pound rather than a pound.

When you have hamburgers on the menu, you can mix in some oatmeal or cooked rice to stretch the ground beef farther. Another money-saving option is to make your burgers or meatloaf using a combination of ground beef and ground turkey, chicken, or pork. To keep your meals delicious when you're cutting corners, you can increase the amount and the variety of seasonings you add to the recipes.

Spaghetti is a popular family dinner item. If your spaghetti sauce recipe includes ground beef, you can reduce the amount of ground beef you use without compromising on flavor by increasing the amount and variety of vegetables you add to the sauce. Carrots, zucchini, celery, mushrooms and various varieties of peppers are excellent, flavorful additions. This same concept can be used when preparing sloppy joe sandwiches, lasagna, and many other sauces and casseroles that require ground beef.

Frugal shoppers know that online coupon deals, comparison shopping, and a serious examination of local weekly grocery store ads are effective ways to make your grocery budget go farther. There are often coupons and sale prices on products such as veggie crumbles. While it's not likely you can easily convert your ground beef lover to a veggie burger lover, you may be able to replace ground beef in many of your recipes with veggie crumbles and still please your family.

If you have room in your freezer for several packages of ground beef, buying in bulk can save you some money. If you purchase ground beef in bulk with the intention of dividing the package into smaller amounts to freeze, be sure you package the meat appropriately. Spending a little extra money for a food sealer or for high quality, durable freezer bags or foil is better than having to throw away improperly packaged meat.

Another way to continue buying beef while keeping the budget intact is to use leaner packages of ground beef for hamburgers and buy those with a higher percentage of fat for sauces. In recipes that call for cooked ground beef, you can drain off the fat. By the time you add some additional seasoning and extra vegetables, you'll never notice the difference between 73% lean and 80% lean.

If hamburgers and recipes using ground beef have been your frequent go-to items for a number of years, perhaps it's time to experiment with some meatless main dishes or with recipes that contain chicken or pork, instead of beef. Eating more meatless meals may become a new lifestyle choice for you. If so, you'll likely notice a reduction in your grocery bill.

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