(This blog is written by Zane Ehnes, UNL graduate student in Community Nutrition and Health Promotion.)
A very popular trend right now, especially among young adults either in college or beginning their professional careers, is meal prepping! Meal prepping is an easy and quick way to make meals ahead of time that are healthy and nutritious go-to meals for during the busy work week that will keep you on track for your fitness goals, whether they are to build muscle, lose or maintain weight!
For this week’s meal prepping, I decided to go with a ground-beef and potatoes recipe that seemed cost friendly but also easy to make! I did alter the recipe just a little bit to add more nutrition. The recipe calls for two main ingredients, beef and potatoes, but I thought adding carrots for antioxidants and beta-carotene and garbanzo beans for plant protein and fiber would be nice additions. These additions also are a cheap way to get more servings out of your recipe.
Beef & Potatoes
- 93% lean ground beef
- 4 medium potatoes (peeled and chopped)
- 5 medium carrots, chopped (remove the green tops)
- 1 cup water
- 1 beef seasoning packet, suitable for flavoring 1 pound of ground beef (Check if there is a low sodium version. In my recipe I used a taco seasoning packet, but you may use whatever you prefer. For example, chili seasoning, or any seasonings you have on hand at home.)
- 1 (16-oz) can of garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained (reduced sodium or no salt added)
- Brown 1 pound ground beef in large skillet, drain the fat.
- Add potatoes, carrots, water and seasoning packet to the skillet.
- Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the potatoes and carrots are fork-tender.
- Uncover, add beans and cook until excess water evaporates.
- Divide into equal portions in food containers, refrigerate for up four days.
Recipe slightly adapted from a recipe by Colorado State University and University of California at Davis, Eating Smart Being Active Recipes and featured in USDA Mixing Bowl at http://bit.ly/2fK9AVg
- Draining the fat from less lean cuts of ground beef removes much, but not all, of the fat. With the leaner options you aren’t paying for the excess weight from fat that you end up draining. And a comparison of the final yield and costs of a lean and a higher fat ground beef shows there is very little difference in cost once the fat is removed (pictured below). Use the US Department of Agriculture’s Ground Beef Calculator to determine the difference in nutrients between different percentages of fat and lean per similar weights of ground beef.
- Rinse the garbanzo beans with water. This will help reduce the sodium by about 40%.
- Prefer different vegetables? Go ahead and alter this recipe in any way that fits your preferences!
- Transfer food, no more than 2-inches deep, into shallow containers.
- Refrigerate within 2 hours after preparing.
- Cover loosely with lid; close lid after food has cooled. Eat within 4 days.
Comparison of 80% Lean and 93% Lean Ground Beef
I wanted to show a visual comparison of cooked ground beef with different fat percentages. Below I have pictured on the left a glass-measuring cup filled to the top with 93% lean ground beef. On the right is a picture of the glass-measuring cup filled with 80% lean ground beef.
The important thing is I started out with about the same amount of both varieties. I had 1.07 pounds of the 93% lean ground beef and 1.05 pounds of the 80% lean ground beef.
You can see how cooking the ground beef dramatically changes the amount you end up with after draining away the fat. When comparing the price per pound of the two types of ground beef, the actual cost difference per cup was only about 15 cents.
Next time when you’re shopping for ground beef, remember the variety with the higher fat content may be cheaper but the cost difference isn’t that much. And … if you’re using it in a recipe where you can’t drain the fat, you’re adding excess calories to your final product.