Tips for Buying & Using Ground Beef (Ultimate Recipe Swap: Beef)

Ultimate Recipe Swap

Ground Beef is one of the most versatile of proteins. It can be browned and seasoned to stretch stews and chilis. It can be seasoned and formed into meatballs, hamburgers, and meatloaf. It can be the basis of tacos, pasta sauces, and casseroles.

Buying Ground Beef

Usually I try to buy ground beef for around $2 a pound or less. Sometimes I luck out and find great quality, organic beef for that same price. Yes, that was a beautiful day. Lately, however, I’ve had a hard time finding it for less than $3 a pound, but I’m hoping that things will change.

Some tips to consider when buying ground beef, learned from local butchers:

  • As a general rule of thumb, buy the ground meat that the store has ground. While the plastic-wrapped chubs are convenient and often lower priced, my butcher told me he would never buy them. Their contents, said he, are more questionable than store ground.
  • Some stores will grind meat fresh for you! My sister often has her local butcher grind the on-sale chuck roast into ground beef.
  • Sell-by date is not the same as the use-by date. You generally have a couple days after the sell-by date to use up the meat, making marked-down meat a great bargain. Just don’t wait! Cook it up or freeze it as soon as you get home.

Freezing Ground Beef

Ground beef is at the heart of many of my freezer meals. I often do one of the following things:

  • Cook a bulk amount and season it for a variety of uses, including tacos, pasta sauces, and casseroles.
  • Form it into meatloaf or hamburgers and freeze the meat uncooked.
  • Bake a huge batch of meatballs to add to a variety of dishes.

In this way, I always have a quick meal component to lean on. I can cook most of these things from frozen, helping me immensely when I forget to thaw something in time for dinner. I can just grab a jar of sauce for pasta and we’re good to go.

Favorite Recipes

Here are some of our family’s favorite recipes using ground beef:

Where’s the Beef at YOUR house?

Link up your favorite beef recipe or tell us about it in the comments. It does not need to be ground beef. It can be any cut.

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Comments

  1. i don’t have my own site but if you go to Southern Plate’s blog, there is a recipe for Pizza Rolls that is awesome. i have used hot dog rolls for the kids rather than hoagie rolls. great way to use ground beef. i froze a bunch as an experiment (wrapped well) and cooked them from frozen in the oven. perfect for a quick dinner/snack.

  2. Katrina Klauer says:

    My recipe is in my making of my freezer meals.. So just ignore my family blah blha blah stuff. :D

  3. We love sloppy joes, chili, maidrites, and a super cold weather favorite, tater tot casserole.

  4. I love this ingredient topic! I never know what to do with my ground beef.
    I recently made italian meatball soup and it was a huge hit. Mostly I just do tacos and hamburgers on the traeger.

  5. Christine says:

    After watching Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution the other week, I will never again buy beef I did not see ground at the store. They put stuff called “pink slime” in the other ground beef and it is what they also put in dog food. It’s barely fit for human consumption and has been processed with ammonia and other solvents.

    Time for me to find a good butcher counter!

  6. Ground beef is a staple in our family’s freezer meals too. Can’t wait to gather some great new recipes!

  7. I used to get ground beef fairly inexpensively at Aldi, but these days I only buy grass fed, organic ground beef at the farmers’ market – and I prefer if they grind it right in front of me. I was already leaning that way, but Jamie Oliver’s “pink slime” demonstration pushed me over the edge! It means way, way fewer ground beef-based recipes, but that’s okay…my family’s health is priority #1.

    • @The Gentle Mom, I understand where you are coming from. I only buy my ground beef from a rancher I have known for 7 years and trust. This sometimes means I don’t have any ground beef but my family can now taste a difference and I know my rancher’s meat is soo much better for the family.

  8. I linked up my recipes individually. I had planned to put them together in a summary post…but blogger seems to be down this morning. I will put up a post and link back soon!

  9. Vanessa says:

    Curious if you ever freeze the ground beef before cooking. I used to do that and now have gotten into the habit of browning or making taco meat to freeze. Any thoughts? Thanks.

    • @Vanessa, I have frozen 10lb packages of ground beef until I am ready to cook it in my crock pot and bag it up. I have not had any problems :)

  10. I am really careful about what types of chemicals/additives are in my food, but I have a tough time with the price tag of $5.99/lb (on the low end) for grass fed ground beef.

  11. We love beef – but I worry about health aspects of eating too much so I do try to serve small portions and a variety of other food as well. I didn’t link up a recipe, but I did share information I learned about the meat industry that helped me make the decision to buy beef in bulk from a local farmer! Thanks for the recipes. I’m always looking for new ones.

    http://simplifylivelove.blogspot.com/2010/12/buying-local-fresh-meat.html

  12. Betsy M says:

    I second the comment about buying directly from a local farmer if you have freezer space. My Dad farms and we had always gotten our beef from him. Well, they stopped raising cattle and now I bought store pocessed beef, yuck!! Except for the most expensive hambuger the taste difference is dramatic! We are going to be buying a beef from a friend who ranches and split it with my sisters. The price will be very comparable to the lower cost store beef and the product quality is far higher.
    Oh, one of our favorite fast meals around here is to make a stir fry with hambuger and whatever vegi’s are on hand. I often use lots of vegi’s and very little meat (half pound for 5 people) and hear no complaints.

  13. We love ground beef – such an easy, versatile meat. We love chilis, shepherd pie, lasagna, meat sauce. Thanks for the link up, I’m looking forward to trying some of these recipes.

  14. LOVE ground beef. Check out http://www.inthekitchenwithjenny.com/ for more ground beef recipes. I offered my Meatloaf Patties here.

  15. Kendell says:

    I need recipes for something I can do with roast other than typical “roast”. Every year we get beef from my Grandma at Christmas and I never know what to do with roasts since I don’t like pot roast.

    • @Kendell, I cook the roast in my crock pot till it is literally practically falling apart. Then I “shred” the beef basically pulling it apart into “strings” then I use it to make bbq beef sandwiches, yummy burritos, quesodillas, or anything else u fancy. also i have cut up a roast to make stew.

  16. THis is what I do too! Having the meat already cooked and in the freezer has prevented many nights of take-out!

  17. I know…what is up with the price? It hasn’t been under $2/lb. since February!!!

  18. We are farmers and raise our own beef. It’s not organic but it is SO MUCH BETTER than store bought beef! We have a local meat locker in our area that we bring our animals to. We have had many family members, friends, and even strangers off Craig’s List buy beef from us. From hoof to freezer is about 4 weeks and it’s much more economical. The “stuff” you drain off your meat from the store is like slug with a yellowy tint. The liquid from fresh beef is clear and not solid at room temperature.

    Look around your area, talk to farmers who raise beef. This is completely legal and regulated. And if you live in central Iowa – talk to me :)

  19. Thanks so so so much for the link up! I love this post everyweek!

  20. We are big beef eaters in our family, as we get our meat from a farm behind our home. Thanks for hosting again!
    -Aimee

  21. I don’t eat beef but my daughter likes it so I sometime makes meatballs for her but whenever I’m buying ground beef I’m standing there thinking what kind to buy as I’ve seen atleast 2-3 diff. types of meat….do U think U can do some post on what kind of meat is good for meatballs & what for other purposes like for fajitas & all that…
    thanks

  22. I shared a quick bolognese sauce that I came up with one year for the Feast of St. Joseph; I also priced out the cost of the recipe.

    Our favorite beef recipe is actually my husband’s meatballs, but that’s a secret family recipe. Maybe some day I’ll divulge it. :-)

  23. Just a funny…I glanced at the title and about spit out my drink because I thought it read,”Tips for Buying Used Beef”. Don’t drink and read blog titles!

  24. Been very difficult to find any decent deals on meat at all lately, let alone ground beef. I do NOT buy anything less than 85/15, just not worth it IMO. Thats running around $3.50 even on sale :(

  25. I often cook 10 lbs of ground beef and season it only with minced onin, garlic, and salt and pepper and put it in my crock pot to cook. I use a potato masher every once in a while to avoid large clumps. Then I bag up what I want to use for spaghetti, chili, or what ever else in to baggies. The other half I make into taco meat and bag that up into family size bags too.

  26. We bought a quarter cow with 2 other families from an organic beef farmer. I just couldn’t make myself ask for ground beef! So we got steaks, roasts and Tbone instead.

    But we are blessed. Publix offers “Market Grind” ground beef. After they cut those expensive steaks, filet mignon, all those lean cuts, they take the leftover pieces and grind them. The exp. date is shorter because there’s no added chemical. It’s also not so vibrant red because there’s no added color or preservative. But it is supremely lean, perfect for burgers, meatballs and such.

    Even if you don’t have a Publix, it’s worth asking your grocery butcher if they do something similar with leftover cuts of lean meat.

  27. We have found that ground turkey meat is much cheaper and tastes the same as ground beef. It is not difficult to find good quality ground turkey for $1.50-$2 per pound, and it isn’t red meat so it is much easier for your body to process! My husband found out he was allergic to beef about 2 years ago (it gives him debilitating migraines and stomach aches), and we’ve been using turkey ever since with no trade-in for taste or texture!

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