All About Ground Beef

beef meatballs in tomato sauce

Juicy homemade burgers, saucy meatballs and beef burritos - three easy meals all made with ground beef. Lean beef is packed with many essential nutrients, which makes it a healthy choice for your family to enjoy. Read on for great ways to use budget-friendly ground beef.

Ground beef is a nutritious choice

  • Beef is part of the Meat and Alternatives food group. One Food Guide serving of cooked beef is 75 grams (2½ oz), or ½ cup (125 mL). For how many Meat and Alternatives you should eat each day, watch this video.
  • Beef is nutrient-rich, offering 14 essential nutrients such as protein, iron, zinc, B vitamins and more.
  • Foods that are high in protein, like beef, help us to feel full longer. This can help with weight control.
  • The package label on ground meats will say if it is regular, medium, lean or extra lean. Lean and extra-lean ground beef are lower in fat than medium and regular ground beef.

Buying local ground beef

Beef is produced in Ontario. Look on the package label to know if your beef is locally produced. If it’s not labelled, ask your butcher or store manager. 

Buy it best

Larger packages of ground beef may be a better buy. Check the price per kilogram listed on the label. Buy lean and extra-lean ground beef when they are on sale and freeze extra packages.

Tips for storing ground beef

  • Uncooked ground beef will keep in the fridge for 1-2 days. Store in the original packaging. It can also be frozen for 3-4 months. (Place in the freezer as soon as possible if not using right away).
  • Cooked ground beef will keep for 3-4 days in the fridge and 2-3 months in the freezer.
  • Before freezing, divide large packages of fresh or cooked ground beef into smaller amounts that are about 400-600 grams each. That will make about 4-6 Food Guide servings. Store in containers made for freezing foods.

Tips for cooking ground beef

Cook ground beef with no added fats or oils. After cooking ground beef, drain the fat and pat with a paper towel to remove excess fat before adding to mixed dishes.

Good to know: Cooked ground beef is safe to eat when a thermometer inserted into the meat says 71°C (160°F). Colour is not a safe way to test if it is done.

5 things to do with ground beef

1. Meatballs

Make a big batch of meatballs and freeze extras for other uses. Try this on a weekend when you have more time. Meatballs can be kept in the fridge for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months. Use them for:

  1. Meatball subs
  2. Pizza toppings
  3. Tomato and pasta dishes
  4. Sweet-and-sour meatballs
  5. Dipping into barbecue sauce 
  6. Vietnamese pho or noodle soup
  7. Vegetable soups

Basic meatballs:

  1. Mix together 500 g (1 lb) lean or extra lean ground beef; 60 mL (1/4 cup) bread or cracker crumbs; 1 egg (beaten); 1 small onion grated; 2 mL ( ½ tsp) each garlic powder and pepper. Makes 24 small meatballs.
  2. Spread on a parchment lined baking sheet.  
  3. Bake at 350° F for 20 minutes.

Also try: Green Meatballs

2. Ready-to-use portions

Here are some ideas for cooked ground beef that you have frozen for quick weeknight meals.

3. Sloppy Joes

A sloppy joe is a dish of ground beef mixed with sauce served on a hamburger bun. It's kid-friendly and so easy to make!

  1. In a large frying pan, sauté finely diced onion, celery and garlic. Add a dash of cumin and chili powder to taste.
  2. Add 1 cup (250 mL) low-sodium vegetable juice, ½ cup (125 mL) frozen corn, a dash of Worcestershire sauce, and about 1 lb (500 grams) ground beef.
  3. Keep meat moist and saucy. Add more vegetable juice if needed.
  4. Cook beef over medium heat until a thermometer says 71°C (160°F).
  5. Scoop meat sauce over four toasted whole-wheat hamburger bun halves. Top with a little grated cheese. Serve with milk and raw veggies or tossed green salad.

4. Quick muffin-tin meatloaf

Use lean or extra-lean ground beef to make your favourite meatloaf recipe. Portion into muffin tins and bake for about 25 minutes at 200°C (400°F).

Try pizza meatloaf. Add Italian seasoning (oregano and basil), diced peppers and mushrooms to meatloaf. During the last few minutes of cooking, top meatloaf with a dab of prepared pizza sauce and shredded cheese. Return to the oven to melt the cheese.

5. Beef and vegetable soup

Add cooked ground beef to fresh, frozen or leftover veggies and low-sodium beef broth to make a satisfying but simple soup. Try these combinations:

  • Ground beef with: low-sodium beef broth; sautéed onions, garlic, carrots, zucchini; Italian seasoning (oregano and basil); canned no-salt tomatoes; leftover rice; and canned beans (try Romano or kidney). 
  • Ground beef with: low-sodium beef broth; sautéed onions, garlic, frozen corn, diced peppers and celery; prepared salsa; and leftover pasta. Toss in fresh or frozen spinach near the end of cooking.

Hamburger recipes:

Beef and Lentil Burgers
Mini Beef Burgers

Ground beef recipes:

Baked Cabbage-Roll Skillet Supper
Green Meatballs
Beef and Rice Kebabs

You may also be interested in:

All about beef
Hormones and Antibiotics in Food Production
Video: How many meat and meat alternatives do you need?

Last Update – February 26, 2019

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