Thursday, June 21, 2012

40+ Quick Meals Using Ground Beef or Shredded Chicken

So the whole Menu planning thing on this blog was pretty short lived huh? I think I realized why. I'm more of a "pantry principle planner" than a specific day by day menu planner. What I mean by that is that I generally stock up and have on hand 90% of the ingredients for 90% of the meals that I make 90% of the time. Approximately. lol.

Beefygeek has recently started a new job that has him coming home at later, less predictable hours and this has sent me back to my go-to repertoire of quick, easy meals that I can make during nap time or with a baby crawling around my feet.

I've been complaining about how expensive my foodie blog habit has been lately, so I decided that I'll be the change I want to see. As epic as that sounds...

To help me, and maybe you... I've come up with a list of about forty meals that use either ground beef or shredded chicken (two of the easiest, cheapest, quickest to cook and defrost meats IMHO.) I'm going to keep this list on hand in the kitchen so I can quickly pick something for dinner when need be. Here goes:

Ground Beef (or ground turkey if you HAVE to. But most of these allow for draining and even rinsing the fat off before using. A few articles here and here.)

  1. hamburgers
  2. spaghetti
  3. tacos
  4. taquitos
  5. burritos
  6. enchiladas
  7. quesadillas
  8. sloppy joes
  9. chili
  10. shepherd's pie
  11. meatloaf
  12. stuffed peppers 
  13. "stir fry" (basically just cook up the ground beef with onions, veggies, and seasonings and serve over rice)
  14. omelets
  15. pizza
  16. homemade hamburger helper
  17. meatballs
  18. lasagne
  19. Beef Stroganoff (never made it, but it's on the to-try list. I actually have some leftover egg noodles and sour cream right now...)
  20. any casserole (there are probably at least fifteen variations here alone. just use Amy Dacyzyn’s good old Tightwad Casserole formula.) 
  21. soup (Although I've honestly never made soup with ground beef; I found some interesting recipes online. If you have any go-to recipes, please share!)
Shredded Chicken
  1. Chicken Pot Pie (I often top with biscuit dough instead of pie crust, it's just easier) 
  2. Super easy pot pie variation: mix and cook sauce with meat and veggies on stove top and serve over rice or noodles
  3. white sauce/alfredo over noodles
  4. enchiladas (red or white)
  5. white chili
  6. chicken salad
  7. add to PW's Sesame noodles
  8. add chicken to lettuce salad, Cesar or otherwise
  9. tacos
  10. fajitas
  11. burritos
  12. taquitos
  13. quesadillas
  14. add to any rice-o-roni/hamburger helper type thing, either homemade or bought on sale!
  15. chicken divan
  16. sandwiches
  17. pulled barbeque chicken
  18. add to stir fried vegetables (not as good as freshly stir fried chicken but super fast if you're in a pinch)
  19. wraps
  20. any casserole (use same formula as ground beef)
  21. about a million chicken soups (chicken noodle, tortilla, wild rice, vegetable... use soups like casseroles: to use up whatever is in your fridge)

I'm realizing Mexican food is super easy looking at this list lol! With some notable exceptions (lasagne being the most obvious) these are cheap and you probably already have the ingredients in your kitchen (or you should!) I'm going to go back through and link to some favorite recipes, just so i have them all in one place, but that's about it for now! What are your favorite uses for these quick proteins?


A.K. said...

This is great! I too, am what you call a "pantry principle planner" (never heard that term before). I can't say for sure, but I do think it saves me more money than menu planning and shopping for those items. I shop for sales.

As far as ground beef in soup- I have the Better Homes and Garden plaid cookbook, and there's an Italian vegetable beef soup in there that is good. Basically you brown your ground beef with onions and garlic (drain), add your Italian herbs, and all the vegetables that you want, maybe some beans. I think this one has potatoes, diced canned tomatoes, maybe kidney beans, and some frozen mixed veggies at the end.

I have been buying ground turkey b/c of N's recently overcome cholesterol problem. In general though, if you buy lean ground beef the turkey on sale might actually be cheaper than that is. I used to buy 80% lean GB, but I'm not sure about the cost comparison once you account for the fat weight. I'm not opposed to the occasional GB, but I haven't found it at a price I liked recently.

Anyway, this is a great list. I've started doing the same thing with a separate tab on my blog and I will be making more changes to it... I'll be watching your list for ideas:)

amybeth said...

Thanks Anna! I buy 80/20 beef. Here's an article about that talks about the price comparison after you drain the fat. She also has a chart about the fat content after draining: Personally, I just really don't like the taste of the ground turkey, but maybe I just need to experiment with it more. How cheap can you usually find it for?

A.K. said...

I make this with ground turkey:
And this is a good meatloaf recipe, though I think I added the Worcestershire sauce into the meat and used thyme instead of marjoram:
Both these are very good with lots of flavor. I also like it in tacos. Not as big a fan of turkey in chilli.
This week Weis has 1.25 lb packages of ground turkey for $3.50 each, which turned out to be a better deal than the 90/10 GB. I haven't seen many good sales on GB lately, and this is the first one I've caught on turkey in a while.

A.K. said...

Oops! I gave you one recipe twice. Here is the meatloaf: