One day last week I received a very interesting message from a reader named Kirstie. Kirstie is originally from New Zealand, but she and her husband and children have recently moved to the United States because of her husband’s job. She wrote that she especially noticed several of my posts mentioning that we are eating less and less meat because her family is also trying to cut down on meat, partly for health reasons and partly because of the expense. She sent me her description of a method she uses to stretch ground beef in a recipe and asked if I would share it with all of you.

Balloon flowers growing in front of one of our stone walls

Here’s what Kirstie does. For every pound of raw ground beef, Kirstie mixes in the bread crumbs made from one slice of fresh bread, one egg, and up to one cup of finely chopped or grated vegetables. Sometimes she uses a combination of several of the following: mushrooms, carrots, onions, celery, eggplant, and capsicums (green peppers) and courgettes (zucchinis)… or sometimes she just adds a full cup of one of the raw grated vegetables. She cooks the meat and vegetable mixture until the vegetables are tender and the meat has lost its pink color, breaking up the mixture the way you would if you were cooking plain ground beef. She packages this meat mixture in recipe-sized quantities and freezes it. She uses two cups of this mixture for every pound of ground beef called for in a recipe.

Thanks for the hint, Kirstie! And now here’s a question for all of you. Kirstie is looking for other ideas for stretching meat in a recipe or for making meat-including recipes minus the meat.

Does anyone have a favorite method or idea they would share?