12 Easy Meal Ideas with Ground Beef
Whenever you need a quick and easy dinner, pull out a pound of ground beef and whip together any one of a dozen meals.
By Joan Whetzel
Life keeps us busy 7 days a week, which makes it difficult to plan and prepare dinners. There are plenty of meals, though, that can be prepared quickly and easily with a minimal planning and a few stock items in your pantry. So pull out a pound of ground beef from the freezer and get ready to cook one of these 12 meals on the fly.
1. Tacos. Taco night was never so easy. All you need is a taco kit or a pouch of taco seasoning. Taco meat can be used with crispy taco shells, soft tortillas, tostada shells (with some refried beans), or on a taco salad bowl. Additions to these taco ideas include lettuce, tomatoes, green or red bell peppers, black olives, sour cream, cheese, and green onions.
2. Lasagna. Alright, this one takes a little time and planning. However, it can be cooked up ahead of time on the weekend and frozen. Thawed and placed in the oven to warm, or heated from frozen during the week, and you have dinner. Add a salad and maybe some garlic or cheesy garlic bread.
3. Spaghetti and Meat Sauce. Brown the meat with some garlic, onions and peppers. Drain the fat and add your favorite spaghetti sauce and pour over noodles.
4. Spaghetti and Meatballs. Meatballs can be cooked ahead on the weekend and frozen in batches. Either cook them in a skillet on the stove top, or place them in a baking pan and cook them in the oven at 375 for about 30 minute, or until cooked through. Plan on about 3 to 4 meatballs per person. Thaw frozen meatballs in the microwave then add them to your favorite spaghetti sauce to cook through and add them on top of spaghetti.
5. Meatball Sandwiches. Thaw your frozen meatballs and heat them through in your favorite spaghetti sauce. Then put 3 to 4 meatballs and sauce in a hoagie roll. Add cheese, sautéed onions and peppers, or mushrooms.
6. Pizza Topping. Brown the ground beef with garlic and Italian Seasoning and drain. Add to the top of your homemade pizza. Pillsbury has a pizza crust in the refrigerator section, with the rest of their biscuits, crescent rolls, and breads. Ragu makes pizza sauce, which is usually sold on the same aisle as the spaghetti sauce. There should be several other choices of pizza sauce right next to it. Try them all out and decide which one you like the best. And of course, don’t forget the grated mozzarella cheese – and any other toppings you like on your pizza.
7. Hamburgers and Sliders. Make your hamburger patties the way you like them seasoned. One pound of ground beef makes 4 regular size patties or 6 to 8 small patties for sliders. Put them on your regular hamburger bun or slider bun and add cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, onion, chili, ketchup, mustard, mayo, relish, or any other toppings that suit you. Sides could include fries baked from frozen, potato salad (purchased or made ahead of time), baked beans, or fruit.
8. Sloppy Joes. Either make your own Sloppy Joe sauce or pull a can out of the pantry. Add sautéed onions and peppers if you like. Place the on regular or slider buns and top it however you like. Include any sides that you like with these sandwiches.
9. Hamburger Helper. There’s the Betty Crocker versions of this dinner idea and several store brands out there. Pick several choices that you think the family will like and keep them in the pantry. When preparing a hamburger helper style meal, keep in mind that they can be doctored up or tweaked with other items from your fridge or pantry to suit your family’s tastes. Add side salads, vegetables or fruit.
10. Pot of Chili. Brown the ground beef with garlic, onions and bell peppers (red, green, yellow, or combination). Add canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, and a small can of tomato paste to help thicken it. Add kidney beans, pinto beans, or ranch style beans if desired. Add red wine or beer (optional) for flavor. For seasoning either use one of the chili seasoning packets (e.g. 3 Alarm) or season it from your spice cabinet. Possibilities include: cumin, paprika, chili powder, cayenne pepper, salt and ground black pepper. Allow it to simmer. If it seems too thin, thicken it with some cornstarch dissolved in cool water. This is a very basic recipe, so play with it to your heart’s content.
11. Salisbury Steak. Make 4 to 6 patties like you would hamburgers, using your favorite hamburger recipe. Instead of cooking them out on the grill, fry them up in a skillet on the stove top. Remove them from the pan and set them aside in the oven on a low heat to keep warm. Use the pan drippings to sauté some garlic, onions, mushrooms and peppers (all these are optional). Add a little butter or margarine as needed. Pour in some beef broth and a little red wine (optional). Let it simmer, then thicken the gravy with a little corn starch dissolved in cool water. Add the meat patties back to the gravy to simmer for a few minutes. Serve with noodles or mashed potatoes and veggies.
12. Meatloaf. Prepare whatever recipe your family likes best. If your family doesn’t like the current recipe, investigate some new ones ahead of time. Serve the meatloaf with any sides your family likes. By the way, leftover meatloaf makes a great sandwich for later in the week.
The next time you’re struggling for dinner ideas, thaw out a pound of ground beef and try one of these meal ideas. Most of them have the advantage of being quick and easy or can be made ahead of time for ease and convenience later in the week. If you’re worried about salt content on some of these, either skip the kits and season them yourself or look for lower salt versions of the ingredients wherever possible. If you’re worried about fat, look for low fat alternatives. Choose lower fat ground beef (95% fat free), light or fat free sour cream, and low fat cheeses. There’s no limit to the possibilities when tweaking these menus to your family’s needs. Tweak away and happy eating.