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Stretch Ground Beef

4 Ways to Stretch Ground Beef

There are plenty of recipes that use ground beef. But, with the price of meat creeping up, budget conscience shoppers are looking for ways to lower the grocery bill. You can always buy meat in bulk, but the best way to lower your meat budget is to use less.

Here are four add-ins you can use to stretch ground beef.


Oatmeal is the perfect add-in for cooked beef. The texture blends in with the crumbled beef, and it absorbs the flavor of whatever you’re cooking.

What to Do:

Brown your meat like normal. Add onion and garlic, or whatever your recipe calls for.

Once the meat is browned, but before adding your sauce, stir in up to one cup of rolled oats. Stir these into the meat and then continue with your recipe.

Simmering the oats in the sauce will allow them to fully cook.


If you’re cooking a Mexican or Spanish style dish with your ground beef, canned beans are the perfect add in. When you’re feeding the meal to picky kids, you can even mash the beans before adding. That’ll help them match the texture better and be less noticeable.

When you want to hide the beans, opt for kidney or pinto beans. The color won’t stand out as much.

What to Do:

Drain your beans. Mash if desired, in a separate bowl.

Once your beef is browned, stir in the beans. You can add a whole can to stretch your meat.

Bulgur Wheat

This wheat is 100 percent whole wheat, and adds a nutritious boost to your meat. One cup of uncooked bulgur wheat is the equivalent of 1 pound of ground beef. If you don’t want to add that much bulgur wheat to your dish, simply half the amount you prepare.

No matter how much you want to use, bulgur wheat takes some preparation before it’s ready to add to your meals. You can’t just stir it into your browned meat and expect it to taste good. The good news is that it’s easy to prepare. It’s very similar to cooking rice.

What to Do:

You’ll need about 20 minutes to prepare your bulgur wheat, so be sure to plan your kitchen time accordingly.

Bring 2 cups of water to boil in a medium-sized pan. You can add 1 teaspoon of salt to the water if desired.

Once the water is boiling, stir in 1 cup of bulgur wheat.

Reduce the heat, cover the pan, and let the bulgur simmer for 15 minutes. After that time, check to see that all the water is absorbed. If you can still see water, let it simmer for 5-10 minutes more.

You’ll now have over 2 cups of cooked bulgur wheat ready to add to your cooked ground beef. Simply stir in the prepared bulgur to your cooked beef and continue your recipe.

Grated Vegetables

So far the add-ins have worked best when you’re cooking the meat first. That works great for dishes like tacos, casseroles, or saucy pasta, but what about dishes like meatloaf? When you’re shaping raw meat, grated vegetables are a fabulous add-in.

Carrots, celery, mushrooms, and onions are common vegetables. You can also use squash, zucchini, and sweet potato. Try using a combination of whatever vegetables you have on hand.

The flavor of the vegetables you pick may slightly alter the taste of your finished product, so pick ones that work best with the flavor profile you’re aiming for.

What to Do:

Select the vegetables you’d like to include, and wash them. Pat them dry, and peel if necessary.

Using either a cheese grater or a food processor, grate the vegetables. You can add a cup of vegetables to every pound of ground beef.

In a bowl, stir your grated vegetables into your raw beef. Season as desired for your recipe. Then, shape and cook as you normally would.

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