Get the Most with Your Food Budget: Ground Beef & Beyond
Author: be well™ with Big Y® Registered Dietitian Team
How add-ins and pivoting within the Meat Department can help your bottom line.
With food costs rising, become aware of price trends for your favorite mainstays—especially for items like meat. Historically, you may have relied on specific cuts for affordability (We’re looking at you ground beef!), but the most recent Consumer Price Index shows there’s some unpredictability. For example, items like ground beef have seen greater increases in price over the past year than cuts like roasts and steaks.
Does this mean no more ground beef? Not exactly. Begin diversifying and extending your selections at the meat counter. With a little bit of help from plant-based additions and last minute pivoting, you’ll be able to navigate the aisles like a pro.
Ground Beef Gains
Get the most out of your spend for ground beef by remembering: the higher the protein content, the more protein and bulk for your meals.
Select ground beef options with higher lean-to-fat percentages. For example, you’ll end up with more fat cook off (Read: fat in the pan) for an 80/20 ground beef than you will for a 90/10. 80/20 means the ground beef is 80% lean tissue (e.g.: meat) and 20% fat. The less fat you start with means the less fat you will see melted in the pan at the end.
Invite the Plants
A crafty and delicious way to extend the amount of ground beef you have from one recipe to the next is pairing with affordable, nutrient-rich vegetables.
- The Blend™. One of our favorite go-tos when cooking meatballs or tacos, this tip comes from our friends at The Mushroom Council. Simply put, you blend finely chopped mushrooms with ground meat.
The ratio of mushroom to ground meat (mushroom/ground meat) varies for recipe type:
- 30/70- burgers, meatballs and meatloaf falling
- 40/60- tacos and burritos
- 70/30 sauces
- Where You Bean? From chili to casseroles and pasta sauce to taco meat, canned beans like pinto, garbanzo and black, make superb additions to ground meat. You’ll change flavor, appearance and eating experience by the type of bean you choose, while enjoying an extra punch of protein and fiber in no time thanks to these little health heroes.
Don’t forget dry peas and lentils! Since these morsels cook up fast, adding them to recipes in dry form with enough liquid will deliver delectable results in minutes.
Rule the Roast
As a consumer, it can be helpful to pay attention to the Consumer Price Index when meal planning. For example, the percent change from June 2021 to June 2022 for beef roasts, in comparison to ground beef, was significantly lower. Beef roast had an unadjusted increase of 3.6% in price compared to the 9.7% seen with ground beef.¹
Looking at price trends can spotlight when the more economical choice may not be what you’re expecting. For that reason, stay alert and be willing to pivot if necessary. For example, if your Sunday dinners have been using ground beef a lot more, give roasts a consideration. Switching up your menu may give you the economical choice once the number of servings and leftovers is considered, while keeping you inspired.
Get cooking with these beefy-inspirations!
¹Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. Consumer Price Index—June 2022. Accessed 8/10/2022. https://www.bls.gov/news.release/archives/cpi_07132022.htm.