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How to Use Less Ground Meat in Recipes

 
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With shortage in the news, what are some ways to use less ground meat in recipes?

Here are some ways I have found that works well for me.

Use less meat. If the recipe calls for 1 pound, try using only a half of a pound of meat.  Or if you are making patties like for burgers then make the patties smaller.




Many recipes include breadcrumbs and eggs which I feel everyone agrees works well.  This is almost like something everyone does.

In the past I have used whole or rolled oats.  Once cooked no one knew that I had used oats. I would suggest using 1/4 to 1/2 cup per pound.

Sometimes I use rice.  It makes a nice filler.  Using cooked brown rice is also nutritional.




Something my mother used when I was growing up were vegetables.  Adding grated carrots, potatoes or any vegetable that can be grated makes the dish more nutritious.




Using pinto beans or lentils can make a great burger.  Just mash them up and mix with the beef and no one will know they are there.

Adding cheese crackers is fun and tasty. In fact any kind of crushed crackers will work.

Sometimes I might use corn flakes.

Something that I read about but have not tried is cream of wheat or malto meal cereal.

What are some things that you do to use less meat or to stretch it so it will go further?



 
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You can try using textured vegetable protein (TVP). It really fills out a ground beef meal. Lentils are another option I would consider.
 
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Quinoa- cook to desired state and add in  to a ground meat mixture.
Beans are a wonderful way to sneak in high protein I do this with tacos. I use the ground meat and the same amount of cooked beans.
Good thread!!
 
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I use most of the ingredients that Anne listed in her post, probably with the exception of rice.

Not much of a filler, but also taste enhancer is chopped onions.
And instead of breadcrumbs you can use soaked (old) bread or rolls. Either soak them in boiling water and then gently squeeze out the excess or use milk (the classic for Bavarian-style patties).

If I have leftovers of a cream sauce (béchamel type) I also add it into the mix.

For a different type of pattie experience you can also add sunflower seeds or other chopped nuts.

And I like to spice up the mix, we like it that way and good spices make everything more tasty!
 
Rebecca Crone
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When you mentioned the nuts it reminded me that walnuts were used by a friend of mine to mimic ground meat in a vegan reciepe. It wasn't meaty but was good so I could imagine them mixing well with meat.
Has anyone tried jackfruit? Its a popular vegan meat substitute. I've never tried but maybe it and mushrooms are food fillers.
 
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This isn't exactly what you're looking for, but I replace ground "beef" with ground Muscovy duck breast or venison. Muscovy are considered invasive in many places, and are easy to harvest for the breasts. I cube the meat and partially or totally freeze it, and grind it while it's still crunchy. I've used it in chili, enchiladas, spaghetti sauce and with grated cheese mixed in for some extra fat, as burgers.
Venison's harder for me to score as I don't have the necessary license or equipment. That said, I've got one friend who I'm hoping will come and hunt my land this fall and I will help process for part of the results. I can trust that he won't shoot if he doesn't have a perfect shot - he's definitely pro environmental responsibility and care.
With many abattoirs in both Canada and the USA closed due to covid-19, and many of our farmers having difficulty getting workers and particularly with keeping those workers healthy, there may be equal difficulty getting some of the substitutions mentioned. I think it is worth looking for sustainable alternatives to whatever foods we can if for no other reason than there may be people who will be more dependent on the shops than someone like myself is capable of being.
 
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Since I started my garden 3 years ago, I have managed to cut down my meat consumption by about 70 or 80 percent.  I even feel much healthier.  
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Cutting sausage with oats makes goetta! Its a Cincinnati area treat that really crisps up nice!


I've noticed that in sauces the addition of mushrooms onions tomatoes squashes and even greens will help to make it more filling and also satisfy the texture that my western pallete longs for.

I haven't found a way to make a small burger more filling yet but I'm sure there are many ways... topping with hearty mushrooms or just swapping out the patty for a big portobello top often hits the spot.

 
Clay Bunch
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Also refried beans greens and queso Fresca with a little pico makes for a great taco.

I also find offal meat tacos to be more filling than muscle cuts and usually they come as street tacos much smaller even forgoing the cheeses. I believe nose to tail is an important part of sustainable meat use and it seems in much ive read that the organs often are more nutrient dense. Maybe that's why they seem more filling.
 
Jay Angler
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Daniel A. Shinerock wrote:

Since I started my garden 3 years ago, I have managed to cut down my meat consumption by about 70 or 80 percent.  I even feel much healthier.  

If prior to your garden you were mostly eating "industrial" meat, I'm not surprised at all. Home-grown in good dirt veggies have far more micro-nutrients and far fewer nasty chemicals in them which makes me feel more satisfied with less. Last week I cooked a ~6lb Muscovy and we got 10 "people" meals out of it, and about 4 cups of bone broth and 2+ cups of rendered fat which I can use in baking. Ducks have a fairly high ratio of bones to meat, but the bones get composted or bio-charred to support healthy vegetable growth (veggies do like calcium and phosphorus which bones contain).
 
Jay Angler
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Clay Bunch wrote:

I also find offal meat tacos to be more filling than muscle cuts and usually they come as street tacos much smaller even forgoing the cheeses. I believe nose to tail is an important part of sustainable meat use and it seems in much ive read that the organs often are more nutrient dense. Maybe that's why they seem more filling.

Specifically they have certain minerals and vitamins that are easier for humans to absorb. Both Vit D and Iron are more absorb-able from animal sources than plant sources for most humans. The catch is that they also tend to have a more distinct flavor, so I can't just "substitute" it for ground meat as I can the duck breast - the cheep seats would notice and cheep loudly!

One of the ways I get away with using less ground meat in something like my spaghetti sauce, is to add some ingredients in dry form - crushed dried mushrooms and crushed dried squash are the two I've used. I think it gives the sauce more body so people don't notice there's less meat.
 
pollinator
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Load up with mushrooms! Diced mushrooms cooked down with a healthy amount of butter can really make a little bit of meat go a long way.
 
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Squash and zucchini are my go-to for supplementing ground meat in recipes. Since I'm not really fond of them by themselves, I usually grate them down and freeze in "sheets." Then it's pretty easy to just break off a section and add to whatever I'm cooking or baking.

Plenty of other good ideas in this thread that I am excited to try!
 
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I always play with recipes and rarely use the original version.  Unfortunately,  I also rarely write it down and can never duplicate it.  My husband tells guests “enjoy it while you can, you may never get it again, at least not that version.”
When I make meatloaf I always use at least a pint of my home canned pears (no sugar added), per 2 lbs of meat.  I add in Cuban oregano, Italian seasoning, etc., and lots of grated onion, carrots, chopped peppers, etc., whatever I have on hand.  The pears keep it moist, and give a great flavor.  You could add oatmeal or another filler also.  In fact, I’ve made Meatless Loaf absent the meat, just with beans, grains and lots of other veggies. You might need to add an egg to that, or arrowroot, something to help it stick together so you can slice it without crumbling when it is baked.  

Twice in one week our power was out for at least several hours or longer (lots of bad storms and flooding here for a while).  Both times I was about to prepare dinner and once was just putting meatloaf and potatoes in the oven as it went out.  Ended up cooking on the grill.  Second time it was raining too hard to do it outside.  Husband built a small rocket stove as soon as the rain stopped, just out the back door near the kitchen and is going to put a roof over from the house, so we will have a backup.  Love those rocket stoves!  I can always cook in a Dutch oven on it if needed and put coals on top if baking.  
 
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I like the pears Faye! Will have to try that (adding a pear to apple crisp is something I’ve always done). I usually grate an apple in my meatloaf mix and spaghetti sauce for the same reasons. As someone else mentioned, quinoa is a great filler- high protein and very nutritious. I make dense whole wheat/whole grain/sprouted grain bread, and usually save the ends of the loaf to dry and crumble for meatloaf or meatballs. Soaking stale breadcrumbs in yogurt (real, not store bought) for a day works great.
To comment on the shortage issue-
I think a lot of this may be manufactured news but regardless, now is as good a time as any to remind everyone that if you can’t grow it yourself, buy local! Supporting your local food growers, both plant and animal, keeps the local economy stronger and helps folks stay in business so they are still there when you need them in a time of shortages at the supermarket. It also helps the planet by reducing emissions and carbon footprints. One positive effect of this quarantine is that it’s reviving a sense of community in many places. I see people looking out for each other more and, at least in my area, a lot more people trying their hand at gardening and raising chickens, rabbits and pigs in an effort to be a little more self reliant. Whether or not they succeed, or even continue, it still creates the experience and memory for them to fall back on in the future.
 
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One of my family's favorites (a fairly quick, go to, recipes) is kidney bean tacos.  Just heat and roughly mash the kidney beans and use them in tacos instead of meat (about a spoonful per taco).  We often use canned beans simply because it's an "I'm tired and nothings handy, but it's time to get dinner on the table" kind of recipe.  

while one person is frying up 3 tacos (Corn tortillas) at a time in the pan, other minions are cutting up a few tomatos, shredding a little cheese, a little lettuce, (if we are lucky we have an avocado for guacamole and maybe even some cilantro)' .  We generally have some salsa and sour cream in the fridge.

I personally like them even better if we add that bit of hamburger (that is left over bit, but not enough for a meal).  

We can generally get a meal on the table that everyone loves in about 25 minutes.
 
Mick Fisch
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Wow!  I went to the store yesterday and beef has jumpted at least $2 a pound since last week.  

Back in the 70's wheat gluten was a popular meat stretcher.  You make a dough, let it set so the gluten forms, then wash away the starch.  Then you add your guten to whatever meat you're cooking and it absorbs the meat flavors.  We cooked it about 50/50 with hamburger.  It's texture is good and it is a protein.  

It is a waste of the carbs in wheat though and nowadays it seems that in some circles gluten is the devil, so look it up and make your choice.

Here is a youtube video on it.  There are others.    

 
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Ive definitely eaten wheat gluten as a meat substitute. My husband actually thinks it was much better than tofu, because the texture is more dense and chewy, where tofu is soft and... Gelatinous? It isn't quite like gelatine.. English lacks proper descriptor words for this texture. Lol. I think it was called seitan, but it IS wheat gluten, dressed up in another name.

As for my meat-stretching ways, I most commonly shred vegetables into ground meat dishes, which is what my nana taught me to do. Lol.

Cabbage rolls are a great dish using very little meat without sacrificing flavour. I will take the biggest and best leaves from the cabbage, and then the rest gets shredded finely. I shred up a couple of carrots and onions, and that big bowl gets added to 400 grams of ground meat (beef or pork). It will make 12-16 big rolls. We either eat one or two each for dinner (if there is another side dish it will be one roll each. If just cabbage rolls and a slice of bread on the side it will be two). Each roll only has between 25-35 grams of meat, but the taste is still there and they are yummy.

My nana used shredded beets along with the cabbage and carrot. I imagine swedes would work well too, although my husband insists they are an acquired taste, lol.

Meatballs are also easily fluffed with all kinds of shredded vegetables. Cubed or shredded bread, cooked barley, bulghur, or rice, nuts, and cooked legumes also work nicely.

My Persian friends taught me how they make meatballs, using a mixture of cooked lentils and ground nuts through the meat, and then stuffing them inside with chopped nuts and dried fruit. Not a lot of meat, but it is still meaty- and very good protein levels from the lentils and nuts in the mix.

Not sure about burgers. We eat them as a luxury here, so I dont feel so bad splurging on nice meat to make patties to serve over fresh buns with a cold beer.
I *do* like sliced roast beets as a burger topping, maybe beets could be incorporated right in to the mix. I also make portobello mushroom burgers sometimes. I buy big portabellos and marinate the caps overnight. They can be grilled and served like a burger patty.  You could probably also incorporate mushroom into the meat to stretch it, if that was really what you were after. :)

Though not related directly to the topic of stretching ground meats, changing eating habits might be beneficial too.

Through our twenties, when we weren't nearly as well off, I would only buy meat once a week, for either Friday or Saturday dinner. Leftovers would be stretched and reinvented to make the most of it, and the rest of the week was vegetarian.

Legumes were a staple, as were a variety of grains. Sometimes we would make dinners based on tofu or cheese as the protein. Cheese is very expensive here, but it only takes a little bit of good quality cheese through a dish to make it nice. Eggs are also good sometimes - quiche can make a nice dinner, especially in the summer. :)

Even though we eat meat more often now, I still like to keep the portions reasonable, and we still keep with a few vegetarian dinners a week. If we ate every day, I think we would feel too heavy to move by the end of the week. I also really prefer to buy as much of our meat, eggs, and some dairy like fresh cheese and butter from the local(ish) farm stores (many of them are Mennonites), who have very small herds/flocks of pastured animals that live a decent life. I am quite happy to eat a smaller portion/ less often of high quality meat and eggs.

Sorry if that sounds preachy. Lol. I will get back to stuffing my cabbage-centric rolls now. :)
 
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Rebecca Crone wrote:When you mentioned the nuts it reminded me that walnuts were used by a friend of mine to mimic ground meat in a vegan reciepe. It wasn't meaty but was good so I could imagine them mixing well with meat.
Has anyone tried jackfruit? Its a popular vegan meat substitute. I've never tried but maybe it and mushrooms are food fillers.



Jackfruit is great for making pulled-pork-like foods - we eat it all the time and it comes together really quickly. Make sure you get young jackfruit in water (or brine). Lots of recipes say to remove the core and seeds but all of it is edible and breaks apart when cooking. We cook it in an onion-barbecue sauce mixture and serve it on buns with a simple coleslaw and pickles. We made it for a huge group of non-vegetarians and everyone was asking for the recipe. Can't go wrong!

As for the walnuts, our favourite ground beef substitute is roasted cauliflower with walnuts, tomato paste, garlic and seasoning. It's amazing. We add it to bolognese sauce when we're looking for something hearty in the winter.

Also, if you want to get off the meat train and like spice, just get your hands on a copy of Rick Stein's India and start making things in the vegetarian section. Yes, there are a lot of great recipes we're probably missing out on, but I find that indian vegetarian food in general leaves very little to be missed in the meat department. Between the paneer and legumes, you won't be left hungry.
 
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Wow, what a lot of super ideas! I often stretch ground beef as well. But I see from above there there are many new things for me to try.

Our version of tacos uses ground beef plus a can of black beans mixed in, and then the homemade taco seasoning blend. Everyone gobbles this up whether they think they like beans or not :)

I made hamburgers last night. I added a good handful of oats as well as a handful of hemp seed and an egg. Flavourings too, of course.  Now this makes a very tender hamburger, but we liked that. I made open face sandwiches, starting with a piece of toast, then spread guacamole, then the burger spread with an amazing tomato reduction from our friend, then melted mozzarella, then drizzle with good ranch dressing, then drizzle with spicy cilantro chutney (got it in the frozen Indian foods section). This might sound a bit fusion, but I'm telling you, it was AMAZING.

For meatballs, I'll usually mix in a handful of crushed Corn Flakes, some oats, and a spoonful of a couple flours such as sorghum or teff.

In spaghetti, I'll often put a handful of TVP in, as well as chopped onion, carrot, celery, mushroom, tomato, olives, and whatever else I can find to bulk it up and make it healthy.
 
Julie Reed
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Those burgers sound amazing Heidi! Making me hungry and I just ate breakfast! I’ll have to look for the spicy cilantro chutney. We make tomato jam, and put it on grilled turkey and cheese sandwiches, but never tried it on burgers. Bacon ranch is a staple food here! Lol
I never think about it as ‘stretching’ ground meat, but I always add an egg, breadcrumbs and some sour cream plus spices, so a 1/4 pound of ground meat (usually moose and pork mix) becomes a huge burger that looks like a pound. We’ve had burger loving kids here who bite into one and say “wow, that’s the best hamburger I’ve ever had!”.
 
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