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Everyday Cheapskate: How to Make the High Cost of Ground Beef Easier to Swallow

Mary Hunt on

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' latest official data says in April 2021, the average price of a pound of lean ground beef climbed to a whopping $5.97 per pound. It's no secret that in the past year, we've seen all kinds of economic turmoil sending us into a season of inflation, when the price of everything is soaring.

If you and your family are not ready to turn vegetarian --nor are you prepared to pay a king's ransom for quality hamburger -- you do have another option: Get creative. OK, maybe a little sneaky, too.

But first, let's talk turkey -- I mean, ground beef. The really lean option of ground beef, 93/7, is not easy to prepare well. That's because there's not enough fat in it to turn out juicy, delicious fare. Super lean ground beef requires careful seasoning as well as careful cooking.

Let's say that you, like me, prefer organic, 90/10 lean ground beef. Yesterday I paid $5 per pound at my supermarket, on sale. Yikes! But I didn't really pay that. My effective cost is more like $3.24 per pound. How? Please don't tell a soul: I stretch it. I take the best quality ground beef and then "extend" it by at least one-third. So whatever the price in the store, I mentally reduce it by 33% to get my effective cost.

HOW TO STRETCH GROUND BEEF

Sounds horrible, I know. But it's not. By mixing in something with the ground beef to make it go further, I get results that are so much better than the beef alone. I'm always doctoring, seasoning, adding this or that depending on what I'm making.

 

Take meatloaf, for example. I wouldn't be surprised if just the word "meatloaf" makes you respond with a resounding, "Yuck!" That's because a brick of ground beef stuck in the oven with a little salt and pepper is going to turn out dry as shoe leather, and about as tasty.

But take that same amount of ground beef and mix it with a few well-chosen ingredients, and then bake it up or put it on the grill. You are going to be amazed. Even your children are going to say it's great and ask you to do that again. And again.

Just don't be so anxious to tell your secrets. There's something about adding stuff to ground beef that grosses people out.

RICE

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