Frugal Ground Beef Recipes to Stretch the Budget

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Need to find some simple and frugal ground beef recipes that will help stretch your grocery budget? Here are some easy recipes that we use!

Need to find some simple and frugal ground beef recipes that will help stretch your grocery budget? Here are some easy recipes that we use! #frugalgroundbeefrecipes #groundbeefrecipes #frugalrecipes

Frugal Ground Beef Recipes

All meat seems to be going up in price at the grocery store no matter what the cut or what kind of meat it is. But I still love ground beef because it’s easy to stretch into several meals. (Roast Beef can be stretched too…here’s how!)

We usually have a steer that we raise for beef every 2 years but a few years ago after a road trip we came home to a freezer that had died and we found that we lost all of our beef for the next year. After some tears and a lot of cleaning up, I just decided that I needed to find more recipes that I can make with ground beef since it’s the cheapest “cut” of beef that I will be able to get at the stores until our next cow was ready.

I thought this list of cheap ground beef recipes would be great to share with you all since I know that we can all use budget friendly recipes that will help stretch our food budgets over the coming months. Mayne of these recipes only take about 30 minutes to make so they also take very little effort and time as well.

I hope that you will be able to find a few things you can add to your menu or maybe something that you can make for an easy dinner tonight!


How to Serve these Easy Ground Beef Recipes

Sometimes dishes that are frugal or have a meat as the main part of the dish tend to be heavy. Serve the meal with a salad and some homemade salad dressing for a frugal but light side dish.

Depending on the meal, you might also want to bulk it up and make it more filling so that the ground beef stretches every further. Many of these meals would go well with egg noodles, tater tots, macaroni noodles, or mashed potatoes.

If you feel like any of these dishes are bland, find an easy way to add a little more flavor! A little salsa, garlic powder, soy sauce, taco seasoning, brown sugar, pasta sauce, or sour cream goes a long ways.

Check out this list of Frugal Vegetables for more ideas on side dishes or vegetables you can buy to complete your frugal dinner ideas.

Breakfast Sandwich

Frugal Ground Beef Breakfasts

Homemade Sausage Patties

These are awesome. We not only use them for breakfast but for any meal that needs sausage! You can also add them to Homemade Breakfast Sandwiches for a more hearty breakfast.

Breakfast Hash

I love to make this when we are trying to make a protein-filled breakfast! I never use a specific recipe, but I just brown up some ground beef with garlic and onion powders then I add in whatever veggies I happen to have on hand. Spinach and diced sweet potatoes are some of my favorites to add.


Breakfast Muffins

These muffins use the sausage that I linked to above. Yum!

Cheesy Hashbrown Casserole

This recipe also uses my homemade sausage patties above for a cheesy beef meal. This one is great to make if you have company for breakfast or if you are just looking for something warm and hearty to serve on a cold winter morning.

Homemade Goulash in a Green dish on a pink background.

Frugal Ground Beef Main Meals

Old Fashioned Goulash

This nice, quick, simple, and frugal recipe takes very little effort. Great for stretching one pound of ground beef into a large, filling meal.

Texas Hash

This is a great one pot recipe that uses all frugal ingredients. (Sometimes called Rice Skillet) Chop 1 onion and 3 stalks of celery. Cook together in a pan or skillet with a bit of oil or butter until soft. Add in 1 1/2 pounds of ground beef and cook until browned. Then add in 1 cup of cooked rice and a cup of canned tomatoes or tomato sauce. Cook and stir together until the entire mixture is combined and heated through. It can be seasoned with Worcestershire sauce or Hot sauce. – From the original Fannie Farmer Cookbook

Cheeseburger Bake

A nice and warm supper meal. My recipe calls for a homemade baking mix for the topping which makes it even more frugal.


Who hasn’t ever made a big dish of Shipwreck when trying to stretch a dollar? This is so easy and frugal. Brown 1 pound of ground beef. Peel and slice 2 large potatoes and layer them at the bottom of a 9×13 casserole dish, add the hamburger over the top. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper. Thinly slice 1 large onion and layer it over the beef. Top with 1 can (or about 2 cups) of cooked kidney beans. Pour 1 can (or about 1 1/2 cups) of Tomato soup and 1 can of water over the entire dish. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Cheeseburger Soup

This recipe uses dairy products which brings up the price a bit but it’s still a very tasty way to stretch a pound of ground beef on a cold winter night.

Homemade Taverns Recipe

Homemade Tavern Sandwiches

This is a South Dakota/Iowa staple! These loose meat sandwiches (that are not the same as Sloppy Joes!) are just about as frugal as you can get.

Sloppy Joes

Always a favorite! To make these meals even easier you could use your own Homemade Sloppy Joe Seasoning.

Korean Beef

This is an easy recipe that doesn’t take much time or many ingredients to make. We serve it over rice for a very frugal meal.

Old Fashioned Vegetable Soup with Ground Beef

I love this recipe because you can literally just dump and go and have a warm soup read for you by supper time. It’s very easy too with very few ingredients and can be made in your crock pot or instant pot.

Cabbage Rolls

Beef Cabbage Rolls

This recipe is something that my grandma used to make all the time! It can also be found in the original Fannie Farmer cookbook. Mix 1/2 pound cooked ground beef plus 1/2 cup cooked rice with a bit of salt and pepper. Add a little Tomato Soup from a can to the beef and set aside. Boil 8 large cabbage leaves in water for 2 minutes until they are soft and pliable. Place a small amount of the beef mixture in the middle of each cabbage leaf and roll up into a tight bundle. Put a toothpick in the roll to help it stay. Put the rolls in a casserole dish along with the rest of the soup and 1/2 cup of water. Cover and bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

Old Fashioned Meatloaf

Meatloaf is always a hearty meal staple. A great meal for winter!


Although not the most frugal ground beef dish since it’s hard to stretch the meat for these…they can still be a great way to use ground beef and they are so easy to make. Plus you can make homemade Burger Buns to make the meal even cheaper. Add extra sides to the meal as well such as Olive Oil Oven Baked Potatoes and Homemade Coleslaw and no one will even notice that you made the burgers a little smaller.

Hamburger Helper

Homemade Hamburger Helper

I have the basic recipe for this here on my website but my book, Little House Living: The Make Your Own Guide goes into more detail on how to change it up with many different varieties. No matter how you make it, this is a great way to stretch a single pound of hamburger into a large meal.

Taco Casserole

This is a recipe from my other Granny who marked it as “very good” in her recipe box. She also left a note on it that says she prepared the beef, beans, and onion in advance and then finished the rest of the dish up later. Yay for meal prep! Brown 1 pound of ground beef with 1 chopped onion until the beef is no longer pink. Mix in 1 1/2 cup Refried Beans and add 1/2 cup Taco Sauce. Line the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish with slightly crushed tortilla chips (any kind/flavor). Add the beef mixture over the chips and then alternate layers of shredded lettuce, sliced tomatoes, and cheddar cheese. Cover the entire top with additional crushed chips and bake at 325 degrees for 15 minutes.

Homemade Meatballs

Meatballs aren’t always the best way to stretch beef since they take quite a bit but you could make them into smaller sizes, use oatmeal for extra filling, and add them to a dish like Homemade Spaghetti Sauce and pasta to stretch them out as far as you can. This recipe for Sweet and Sour Meatballs that uses bell peppers is also very good as is this one for BBQ Meatballs.


Stretching a Buck Lasagna

This is one of my favorite recipes to make because you can literally add any amount of ground beef you happen to have on hand. If you have a small amount of cooked ground beef leftover from another meal, this delicious comfort food is how to use it up!

Easy Chili

This is the easiest recipe for classic chili that we’ve ever made. The taste is so good though, we even used to serve it in our coffee shop! Brown 1 pound of ground beef and 1 chopped onion until the beef is no longer pink. Add 1 quart (or about 4 cups) of stewed tomatoes and 1 can of diced green chilis. Also, add in 2 pints (or about 4 cups) of your favorite cooked beans. Finally, add 1 tablespoon of chili powder. Cook together in a stockpot or in the slow cooker until the mixture is warm. Serve with your favorite chili toppings.

Ground Beef Jerky

Just about the cheapest version of Jerky that you can make! If you want to stretch your pound of ground beef into a snack or a take-along meal, this is the way to do it.

Easy Beef Tacos

Our family loves tacos as an easy ground beef meal. We make the filling from ground beef and homemade taco seasoning to serve on tortillas or tortilla chips…whatever have on hand! We top it with any taco toppings that we currently have in the fridge.

Taco Salad with Catalina Dressing

This is another good frugal ground beef recipe, but this one is a little bit different than those above because it uses quite a few fresh components. It’s easily made in the summer when fresh food is in abundance.

Salisbury Steak

Extra Frugal Tip

Many of these recipes (but not all), could be made with ground chicken or ground turkey. If you can find those for a better price, you might want to consider the swap.

More Beef Dinner Recipes

Here are a few more ideas that  I’ve made in the past but I don’t happen to have recipes for. If you do, you can add these to your frugal ground beef meal ideas!

  • Salisbury Steak with Mushroom Gravy
  • Beef Stroganoff
  • Shepherd’s Pie
  • Taco Cups
  • Baked Ziti with Beef
  • Beef Casserole with Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • Tater Tot Casserole

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Binder PagesNeed help keeping track of all your family’s favorite recipes and organizing your meal planning? Try using my Recipe Binder Pages!

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These are the best ground beef recipes I could come up with! What are some delicious and yet frugal recipes that you make with ground beef?

Did you enjoy this post and these recipes? Be sure and share it with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and through Email using the sharing buttons!

Me and KadyMerissa has been blogging about and living the simple life since 2009 and has internationally published 2 books on the topic. You can read about Merissa’s journey from penniless to the 100-acre farm and ministry on the About Page. You can send her a message any time from the Contact Page.


This article with Frugal Ground Beef Recipes was originally published on Little House Living in December 2019. It has been updated as of January 2023.

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  1. Absolutely love your website and these posts look easy to make and good to our pocketbooks. I am looking forward to buying the LHL community cookbook.

    I hope people will include depression era recipes–that generation has so much to teach us!

  2. Good morning! Melissa, I find all of your recipes and suggestions so good! I was born during the depression, married young and had 8 children, who I ended up raising all on my own. I don’t need all of your recipes and frugal suggestions, as my grandmother raised me, and she taught me all this stuff, and – boy, howdy! – it all came in so handy! It is so neat to be able to see someone as young as you, appreciating, using, and passing on all of these wonderful recipes and hints, Thanks and keep up your good work. Love you! Phyllis

  3. Another way to stretch ground beef is to finely shred a carrot or 2 into the raw meat, then shape, brown, grill or whatever. The kids didn’t know they were eating vegetables in their hamburgers.

    Back in the days before GMO soy, I used to buy a package of soy granulars and mix that in too. Once it’s mixed with burger and stuff for meatballs, Or put into a casserole, you can’t even tell.

  4. I agree about meat prices. When ground beef is on sale, I make multiple meat loaves and freeze all but one. I also make burger patties with 4 oz portions I weigh out, then separate them with parchment paper. These are packed with two buns. When I need a quick meal, burgers are perfect.

    P.S. I really enjoy your emails.

  5. Great post, found some new to me recipes to try. Sorry about your loss of a freezer, had it happen to me in severe flooding. You may find great meat bargains at a bulk grocery…we have one called Smart Service for restaurant supply and catering. They have great sales all the time in bulk that can be cut down and wrapped for family consumption at home. We purchase our pork this way as it is more economical than growing a pig ourselves on our farm.

  6. I just want to let you know how much you are appreciated! I live in a very rural county in Oregon and poverty is great. I serve meals on wheels once a week. We also go to the Indian reservation. People here go to the food bank once a month also. trying to find more recipes made from the staples that come in food boxes is sometimes hard We get alot of rice, beans all varieties.lentils. for a month you get 3lbs of hamburger. so stretching it as far as we can is the goal. I am 67 years old, have MS and other health problems. My income is $801.00 a month. There are alot of people living on less. We all contribute and share and help each other. Anyway thankyou lady and God bless you and your family and keep up the good work.

  7. Many great ideas. I may not be able to use all of them but some will certainly go into our regular meals. I have used the taco salad recipe with the homemade Catalina dressing and my husband has asked that I repeat it. We are also having unpredictable weather but it is still January. Thank you for sharing.

  8. Love the Taverns recipe! I dislike sloppy joe’s (think we ate them too often when I was a kid) so Taverns are a great alternative. My late DH loved them!

  9. Thank you so much for your recipes. I have another one for ground beef.
    1 lb of ground beef
    3 or 4 potatoes peeled and cubed
    1 28 ounce can tomatoes
    1 cup of water
    1 tablespoon of butter

    Peel and cube potatoes and boil until done.
    Cook ground beef and drain the grease.
    Add tomatoes, water and butter
    Add potatoes after butter is melted.
    Makes several servings and tastes even better the next day
    Hope y’all like it.