After work, errands or extracurricular activities, you may feel harried and hurried -- and not at all like standing in the kitchen to cook dinner. But when you want to ensure that your children sit down to a well-balanced meal, make ground beef an option. Lean ground beef is a healthy choice for the dinner table, and unlike other cuts of beef, it cooks quickly, leaving you time for more important matters.
Casseroles don’t have to be 2,500 calories per serving, Combine browned and drained extra-lean ground beef with whole-wheat penne pasta, diced tomatoes, low-sodium onion soup, low-fat cheese or frozen vegetables, and cook until the casserole is heated through. Serve with a simple green salad and your favorite salad dressings. For a heart-healthy Asian casserole, mix cooked, extra-lean ground beef with sautéed, chopped celery, red bell pepper, bamboo shoots or baby corn. Add your favorite Asian sauce, stir in brown rice and bake until heated through. If nostalgia is on the menu, put on your grandmother’s apron and whip up her casserole with drained egg noodles, lean ground beef, tomato sauce or brown gravy, cheddar cheese and cooked vegetables, such as bell pepper, onion, olives, celery or carrots. What the casserole adds in calories, it also adds in comfort and love. If you’re feeling industrious, make an extra casserole and freeze it for those busy nights or unexpected company.
When you get home from running the carpool on a cold, late afternoon, you only need about 20 minutes to make a beefy corn chowder. Incorporate either frozen or canned corn, spices and sautéed onion with leftover, cooked ground beef. Serve with biscuits. Vegetable beef soup is a simple “can of” meal. To browned ground beef, add broth, drained vegetables or beans. In the time it takes the soup to heat through, you can do alphabet or algebra drills with your kids. Make a big batch of taco soup by mixing cooked ground beef with broth made from beef bouillon and packages of taco and ranch dressing seasoning, diced tomatoes or tomatoes with green chiles and celery, beans or corn. Serve over squares of leftover cornbread. As an alternative, make each of these soups in a slow cooker.
Cook Once, Eat Twice
Broil or grill hamburger patties seasoned with your favorite spices and grated white cheese incorporated into the ground beef. The following night, crumble leftover patties and add to homemade or jarred spaghetti sauce to make a quick Bolognese that’s ladled over warm pasta. Instead of an Italian dinner, crumble the leftover burgers and mix with water chestnuts, soy sauce, powdered Asian seasonings, rice wine vinegar or chile paste for a little heat. Roll in iceberg lettuce leaves and serve with a side of white rice, lime wedges and cilantro. Make extra seasoned meat filling for tacos or tostadas, then incorporate the leftover beef with rice, canned tomato sauce, seasonings and stuff into hollowed bell peppers or roll into cabbage leaves. Bake until the outer vegetables are cooked through.
Ground beef is a prime ingredient for an inexpensive dinner. When your budget is strict, the beef helps you stretch your food dollar, particularly when you find it on sale. Brown ground beef with onion and season with Italian seasonings and leftover spaghetti sauce. When the sauce is heated through, ladle a spoonful onto the end of a cooked lasagna noodle, top with a dollop of ricotta or cottage cheese, roll up the individual noodle and place in a glass dish. Repeat the process with remaining noodles. Top with any remaining sauce and bake. If you have grated Parmesan cheese in the refrigerator, dust the cooked roll-ups with the cheese before serving. Combine ground chuck with sautéed sweet white onion, garlic or bell pepper. Once the meat is cooked, add tomato sauce, diced tomatoes with chiles, chili powder or beans. Your weeknight chili should be ready in about 30 minutes, giving you time to pay bills or fold a load of laundry. Use leftover chili to make homemade burritos.
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