Cheap ground beef recipes are the mainstay of many of us living on a budget. And with our busy lives we aren’t looking for just cheap, we need pretty quick too, thank you very much.
I love nothing better than a good meaty sauce and beef gives us this in spades. Many meaty recipes call for diced steak but when you are on a budget, this is not something you can afford very often.
Budget ground beef recipes give you all of the meaty flavors without the cost. It’s a double win in my book so I’m always on the look out for cheap ground beef AND great recipes.
These 15 recipes will satisfy your taste buds and your time constraints with quick meals you can make in less than 30 minutes as well as one pot dishes.
One pot recipes are perfect for busy folk as they are invariably quick to cook and super quick to tidy up afterwards – only one pot!
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Get your ground beef for cheaper
Ground beef is one of the cheaper proteins although whole chicken will often beat it pound for pound. However beef is so versatile and is great for padding out.
What do I mean by padding out? With ground beef you can add other ingredients to make the whole meal cheaper. Ingredients like lentils, beans and oats as well as extra veggies.
Getting your ground beef cheaper than the standard store price also helps you keep your meal prices low. Most stores have regular sales on chicken and ground beef, when they do make sure you snap up more than you usually buy.
I often get my beef for 30% cheaper if I time it right. This can be through buying it on clearance or when it’s on a deep discount offer. Either way I pride myself on NEVER paying full price for ground beef.
Ground beef alternatives
All these recipes call for ground beef but there are other ground meats you can use quite easily. For the health conscious you can use ground turkey as it has a lower fat content.
In the UK ground pork is often cheaper than ground beef so I tend to buy this when nothing is discounted. Pork can also work better for quick recipes as ground beef softens up with longer cooking.
When I am using ground pork I do not always try and find pork recipes, I’m just as happy to focus on the tried and tested tasty ground beef recipes that I know and love.
Why Ground beef and not beef mince?
Let’s deal with the translation issue. Ground beef or beef mince?
Here in the UK we call any meat that has been chopped or ground into small pieces, mince or minced. So it’s beef mince or minced beef, pork mince or minced pork, turkey mince etc.
Elsewhere, ground beef, ground turkey or ground pork is the more usual term. I’m in the UK but most of you reading this are not (waves :-)).
We also have mincemeat which contains no meat and is a sweet mixture of dried fruits and sugar and we make Christmas mince pies with it. Again these are sweet pies made with a sweet pastry.
And then we have savory mince pies which are made with beef mince and a savory pastry. So you can see that we Brits like to confuse ourselves never mind everyone else!
Talking about confusing, I think I confused half my American readers when I talked about laying crackers by each place setting as part of my Christmas table preparations. This article by Historic UK explains what a Christmas cracker is if you are wondering!
Storing your ground beef
Having taken advantage of a sale on your ground beef what do you do with it when you get home? Meat lasts well in the fridge for a few days but bulk buying is beyond your fridge’s capabilities.
There are a couple things you can do. Firstly, you can have a batch cooking session when you get home. You can make double or triple quantities of some of the budget ground beef recipes below and freeze what you won’t eat this week.
This isn’t always the best option though as you may have gone to the store after work or don’t have enough time to have a big batch cooking session.
Secondly, and more likely, you can freeze what you realistically won’t use this week. For best results I would plan my freezing in this way:
- Split packages into your usual cooking volumes. E.g 1lb bags if you always use 1lb.
- Place the ground beef (or turkey or pork) in these ziploc storage bags.
- Flatten the meat bags so they take up less freezer space.
- Label with date frozen and aim to use within recommended usage times
When thawing, follow food safety guidelines and try not to resort to using the microwave as it tends to cook the corners and makes for tougher meat.
Quick money making tip
Scan Your Receipt Through Fetch
When you’ve bought your ingredients for your meals, take 2 minutes to scan your receipt.
Fetch Rewards is a free grocery savings app that rewards you just for snapping pictures of your receipts. That’s really it.
It won’t reduce your grocery bill but you get free rewards on groceries on thousands of products every day, no matter where you get your groceries. Just scan your receipts to receive rewards.
In The UK? Scan Your Receipts Through The Storewards App
The Storewards app works in the same way as Fetch, all you need to do is snap pictures of your receipts. Even better though, it allows receipts from all purchases made (in-store and online), up to 20 receipts a week, not just groceries.
Plus you get a daily bonus just for logging into the app. Download the phone app and use referral code l8iph (l = L) to get 250 bonus coins when you sign up today.
Make a Big batch
I like recipes that can be doubled or tripled depending on how many people you are feeding. You can increase the size of your recipe in order for you to double up on your meals. Cook once and eat twice makes sense for our busy lives.
The term batch cooking makes it sound like you are cooking great vats of each recipe, but really you decide on the batch size. I often cook a double batch of a recipe so we can eat it that day and have it again another day.
Most meals can be frozen, if not then it will last in the fridge for a few days. Perfect for getting a meal on the table within 15 minutes of arriving home late.
5 one pot cheap ground beef recipes – seriously simple!
I am neither the most adventurous cook nor the most confident. I prefer to stick to the popular ground beef dishes I know my husband loves. That way I know I’m not going to end up with a recipe failure.
I also much prefer one pot meals because I seem to be chief kitchen cleaner so the less pots I use the less clearing up afterwards. It’s not lazy thinking, it’s smart thinking!
Slow Cooker Poor Man’s Stew – slow cooking your beef makes it super tender and tasty. This is a popular ground beef dish no matter your grocery budget. There’s nothing better than coming home to the smell of this gorgeous stew with just 15 minutes of morning prep.
One Pot Lasagna Soup – lasagna is one of my favorite dinners but the faff with the lasagna sheets means it’s not a super easy ground beef recipe. This lasagna soup gives me all the flavors that I love without any of the faff – my kind of easy!
Crockpot Mongolian Beef Dinner I substitute ground beef into this recipe as the Mongolian flavors mean I don’t want to only cook this when I’m feeling flush and can afford diced beef.
Classic Goulash – This is the classic American version, not to be confused with Hungarian goulash which is completely different (and with much more expensive ingredients). You can pad this out with more veggies such as carrots and peas to get more of your 5 a day.
Southern Beefy Skillet beef and butter beans is one of my favorite food combinations after beef and cheese! A one pot meal of hearty goodness you will want to cook again.
Fancy something different? Check out my post on cheap chicken dinners.
5 Quick budget ground beef recipes for busy nights
We all lead such busy lives, running between jobs and home responsibilities that it often feels like we don’t have time to cook at home. The grocery budget says don’t eat out, your time screams the opposite.
These super easy ground beef recipes will help you both cook at home and keep your grocery budget low. And of course they taste delicious!
Crispy Southwest Wrap this recipe takes wraps and makes them super fast with all the ingredients combined and cooked before crisping up the completed wrap. Even better it’s the perfect recipe for using up whatever you have in the fridge, rice, chicken, veggies.
Hoisin Beef Noodles the perfect recipe for substituting ingredients, I use cabbage or kale as they are often in my fridge. Of all the things to do with ground beef I wouldn’t have expected to pack it full of Asian flavors, but this recipe seriously works, it’s delicious!
Quick Sautéed Cuban Beef 25 mins from start to finish makes this a super easy ground beef recipe to whip up on those nights when time is of the essence. The addition of raisins and olives make for a very yummy dish in my eyes.
Beef And Broccoli Bake is a classic combination and this recipe takes just 20 minutes. You’d spend longer in the grocery store picking something up. The extra 5 minutes to crisp the cheese topping in the oven are worth it, although not essential, who doesn’t love a crispy topping?
One Pot Chili Mac and Cheese this is both a one pot dinner AND super quick at just 30 minutes to the table. Cheese and ground beef are my favorite combination. I know it calls for macaroni but I cheat and add whatever pasta shape I have, usually penne. The taste is still yum!
For more cheap recipes everyone will love check these posts out:
5 Cheap Ground beef comfort food Dinners
Comfort food is my go to food on a cold winter’s day and my favorite comfort foods always end up being the simple ground beef recipes we all know and love. You cannot beat a warming casserole or a winter pie for comfort and taste.
Friendship Casserole – this is the perfect casserole to make a big batch of and fill your oven. The unused portions can be frozen and will taste even better on reheating.
Slow Cooker Spaghetti Bolognese – A bolognese sauce has so much more flavor when you cook it for a long time which is why using your slow cooker makes so much sense for this recipe. No occasional stirring to prevent sticking, get it going and leave it for hours to develop its full flavor.
Mince and Tatties – I love mince and tatties, or mince and mash for those of us not in Scotland. In fact I love swapping out the tatties for neeps (otherwise known as Swede or Rutabaga). They have a bit more texture than mashed potato and taste yum with a little butter added.
Poor Man’s Lasagna this is a recipe after my own heart. No faffing with lasagna noodles yet all the flavors of the creamy white sauce that I love. I would make a big batch of this and have it for a second time a few days later.
Ground Beef Pie (Tourtiere) my list wouldn’t be complete without a meat pie as I love all things savory, especially pastry. You could make your own pastry but using ready made is just as tasty and so much quicker.
Fancy a meatless meal? Check out my post on cheap and easy vegan recipes.
Frugal and cheap ground beef recipes we love
I love my food, no getting away from it, and these easy cheap beef dinners continue my love of good food. They are all simple, many of them quick and they make delicious meals without turning me into a stove slave for hours on end.
Choose your favorite cheap ground beef recipes and cook them time and again – enjoy!
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Last Updated on 3rd March 2021 by Emma