Calorie Savers: 4 Ways to Stretch the Beef

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Love meat? Read on to learn how to keep the flavor, cut the fat, all while stretching a buck!

Love Italian sausage? Instead of serving up 4 giant links of sausage alongside your pasta meal, why not use one link to flavor 3/4 pound of lean ground turkey? Remove the casing and brown the meats together, making sure to drain and blot the meats when cooked. Add additional Italian seasoning if desired.

Compare the calories:
Italian sausage (4-ounce link):
391 calories, 35.4 g fat, 12.7 g saturated fat
With sausage and lean ground beef (4 ounces):
322 calories, 26.4 g fat, 10.3 g saturated fat
With lean ground turkey and Italian sausage:
242 calories, 16.9 g fat, 5.3 g saturated fat

Serving sausage sandwiches? Try turkey Italian sausage topped with plenty of grilled onions, peppers and tomatoes. And don't forget the whole-wheat buns.

Turkey Italian sausage (4 ounces)
160 calories, 10 g fat, 2.5 g saturated fat

Want to keep the beef but make it go a little further? Here are three ways to extend your meat.

1. Finely chop a cup and a half of mushrooms for every four ounces of meat. If you've got one pound of beef and want to double it, add 6 cups of mushrooms. Use the food processor to create a crumbled meat texture. You're still getting protein, along with the valuable minerals contained in mushrooms.
Per serving comparison:
Ground beef (4 ounces):
300 calories, 23.4 g fat, 9.4 saturated fat
Ground turkey (4 ounces):
192 calories, 10.8 g fat, 2.8 g saturated fat
Mushrooms and ground beef (4 ounces):
161 calories, 11.9 g fat, 4.7 g saturated fat

Mushrooms and ground turkey (4 ounces):
54 calories, 2.8 g fat, 0.7 g saturated fat

2. Add black or pinto beans to beef (equal parts). Brown beef, drain and blot grease, then add beans and seasonings and heat.
Beef and beans (4 ounces):
206 calories, 12 g fat, 4.8 saturated fat
Turkey and beans (4 ounces):
153 calories, 5.6 g fat, 1.4 g saturated fat

3. Add soy crumbles to beef or turkey. Brown meat, blot and drain grease, then add seasonings and add soy crumbles to heat through.
Soy crumbles with beef (4 ounces):
206 calories,14.9 g fat, 5.5 g saturated fat
Soy crumbles with turkey (4 ounces):
154 calories, 8.6 g fat, 2.2 g saturated fat

Experiment with ratios to suit your tastes!

Tip: It's also good karma to cut back on beef from time to time: A pound of grain uses less than 1% of the water needed to produce a pound of beef.

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When you add these extenders you give some nutritional values but I notice carbs and protein are missing and they are essential to feeding a diabetic. Need to add this information. Report
Adding cooked barley to ground beef makes a nice meat loaf. Start 50/50 and adjust to your preference. Report
I mix equal portions of ground and ground turkey, egg beaters, oatmeal, worchestire sauce and liquid smoke. I also crumble up a small handfull of Durkee onion and add finely chopped onion and green pepper. For seasonings I use a salt substitute, coarse ground black pepper, garlic powder.

I use Liquid Smoke on nearly everything, a few drops makes everything smell like it just came off the grill. Report
We used to be a beef family, but over time I have went from cooking beef 6 days a week to maybe 2 or 3 times a month! I love the Honeysuckle White turkey products, they really helped me fool my family when I first started cutting us back...I didn't tell the family I was cutting back just in case they protested. They have so many different varieties (we had the turkey brats yesterday) and they are all delicious!! They fooled my KS bred farm boy & my kids. Report
Oh my heck!!! What an awesome idea! I love the moshroom thing, what a perfect idea,that is one I will use all the time. I can't wait till me family tries it, I'm currious if they'll even notice, I'll keep you "posted" (sorry couldn't resist) I have 5 kids 7, 9, 11, 11, 13. and a husband. Report
Is that weight cooked or uncooked? I am so confused! Report
I always "stretch" my ground meat, but when I want sausage...I want sausage. Love that Black Beans Lasagna. Report
I add whole grains to the ground meat. This stretches the meat out and adds fiber. Either oatmeal (uncooked) or even plain grits(cooked but with reduced water). I played around with the ratios until I got a texture right. The grits with ground turkey really helps keep them juicy!!
I can't wait to add the shrooms too!!
On this note, Black Bean Lasagna--with the beans replacing the meat--is wonderful. Recipes can be found at a number of online sites. You really don't miss the meat in that recipe, and I'm sure the idea can be put to use in a number of others. And diced mushrooms mixed with egg (or egg substitute), a bit of bread crumbs, and seasoning make great "hamburger" patties, as well. Add lettuce, tomato, and onion to them and they're a nice burger substitute. Report
Great ideas, it helps with the high cost of beef Report
I love turkey italian sausage. It is great in Spaghetti sauce. Report
I have been using ground turkey for quite a while - for cholesterol reasons for my husband. I love the idea of adding in some mushrooms too. I wonder if he will notice!! :-) Report
I've started using half ground beef and half turkey. When I get home from the store, I mix them and then freeze right away. Report
Even though I don't normally like mushrooms and the hubby does, I'd like to try adding this to the ground meat in the next meal I make. I'm assuming that I'm supposed to use fresh mushrooms, right? Thanks Report
Good ideas! I often add red lentils to ground beef recipes, so that I use half the amount of ground beef specified. It makes the dishes tastier and healthier and is barely noticeable. I also often add aubergine, or eggplant as you call it over there... it has a good meaty texture and adds to the veggie content in ragus. Report
I add lots of veggies to recipes to make things go farther and add flavor. For example I put an onion, a red & a green pepper a cup of chopped celery & a cup of chopped mushrooms into a box of hamburger helper. The calories for the same size serving are much lower. Many recipes can be changed in this way and it makes taste much better. I also have no problem getting enough veggies into my family each day. Report
Thanks for all the great ideas Report
Great ideas. One thing I do to stretch my beef is to add chopped onions. In things like meatloaf, chili, and Hamburger helper especially. Butr then again, I like onions... and they are a lot cheaper than mushrooms!!! Report
We're not a beef eating family for the most part....but whenever we get the red meat hankering, I prepare chopped buffalo meat instead....yummy! Report
I've tried the TVP either mixed with, or in lieu of meat in chilis. Unfortunately, it seems that my husband is sensitive to the stuff, as even a little bit of it makes him ill. No TVP for us, I guess, lol. Report
I love mushrooms, so the idea of mixing mushrooms into the ground beef sounds really tasty to me!

Another way to "cut" beef is to stretch it by using it in chili, soups, and stews. My favorite method is to use a half-pound of ground beef in a pot of chili big enough to make 5 servings. With the beans in the chili, we're still getting plenty of protein, but decreasing the red meat.

We also have tried substituting chicken for beef in many of our recipes. Sometimes we can't tell the difference (like in the chili), sometimes it tastes better, and sometimes we decide to keep the beef. Experimentation is key! Report
I grew up in beef-country (Nebraska), so once I moved away, I stopped eating beef. I just decided I'd had enough over my lifetime there.

I think that these suggestions are great for people who do eat beef, especially when they're feeding families and children. As a child who ate too much beef over a lifetime, I wish my mother had used some of these techniques.

I think they'd also work with chicken dishes and turkey dishes.

I'm trying to cut most meats out of my diet slowly, but for now, adding more veggies is cutting down on my meat consumption, and I'm sure my heart (and I KNOW my waist) thank me. Report
Thanks for the idea I love mushrooms and turkey sausage Report
When making things like bbq sauce, spaghetti sauce, tacos, chili and any other sort of very flavorful things you can omit the beef entirely and just use TVP (also known as textured vegetable protein or textured soy protein, I buy it in bulk at the health food store and it comes out to less than .50 cents a pound re-hydrated!!!) It is considered a complete protein and is high in both protein and fiber. Report
I do this all the time for Meals like Meatloaf,Spaghetti Sauce & Casseroles! It really adds flavor, conserves fat calories & my budget! Report
This is a great idea. My hubby loves sausage, I will give this a whirl! Report
Thanks for the great ideas! ;-) Report
I make turkey burgers by combining 1.25 lbs of lean ground turkey (lean not extra lean) and the meat from two to three spicy italian turkey sausages, then also add chopped onions and some other stuff for flavor. I have just recently begun to add about a quarter cup of sunflower seeds to the mix - healthy, adds just a bit of salt which turkey needs, and good flavor, as well as healthy oils. I love the mushroom idea - I will definitely work with this info! Report
This is great advice...used onions and peppers last night to stretch turkey burger patties, but I am definitely going to use the mushroom idea....and the eggplant someone below suggested. Report
Incorporated this years ago, especially in meatloaf.
It is a great healthy filler. Report
So very smart and great for the budget. This is a must try. Thank You! Report
I stretch beef by adding barley to beef stews and to ground beef dishes such as shepherd's pie. We like it better with than without.
I've done bolognaise sauce for spaghetti by adding lentils or soy crumbles to the ground beef, or replacing it all together.
And everyone knows about using oats or cracker or breadcrumbs to stretch the ground meat in burger patties, meatballs and meat loaf. Report
I make "skinny cheeseburgers" with 95% lean ground beef and chopped mushrooms and they are wonderful! You can't taste the mushrooms and they help keep the burgers juicy. The first time I made them, my husband and kids didn't have a clue they were eating 'shrooms! Trust me, try this - you won't be disappointed!!! :-) Report
I have never tried using mushrooms, or combining the meats out of the casings ...great ideas. Thanks! Report
This is exactly what I have been doing. I go for the flavor instead of the quantity, when it comes to meat and carbs. Report
some great ideas, I'll have to do the mushrooms as we love them. One thing I noticed if you buy bulk Italian sausage its way less fat than the links.

Thanks for the tips.

Kitt Report
I like the idea of volumizing the beef by adding mushroom. My kids don't like mushroom but by adding it into the meat they probably won't even notice. Great tips! Report
I agree with dietary restrictions my husband can't do the mushrooms but we will try soy or beans and ground turkey. Report
Great tips! Report
Very helpful thanks. I'm not a big "veggie" person (I like what I like) but I often find hidding stuff (like the mushrooms) works well! Report
In addition to mushrooms, i find that eggplant works really well too. (Also, some bell peppers, and onions can add great flavor and help you stretch the beef even more). Report
I already use some of these ideas. They work great and helps you meet your daily portions of veggies. Report
I love the mushroom idea! I have the feeling that will definitely become a 'staple' in our house! Report
Great recommendations. Thanks a bunch!!! Report
wow!! a great idea I will be trying these Report
Love the ideas, can't wait to incorporate them in my next meals Report
Love the sausage idea for spicing things up. I often cut my meat with veggies like onions and carrots finely chopped up. Report
i love the mushroom idea as well.. never thought of that!! Report
Awesome tips. Thank you so much. I am so used to hearing the tip to add oats or bread crumbs to stretch the meat. Well, you can only add so many oats before you wind up with an beef flavored oatmeal loaf. Keeping these tips in my recipe box. Report
Loved the mushroom idea since I love mushrooms. I also add things like lots of chopped up carrots and onions and celery when I am making a meat sauce (food processor works great for this)

Deb (mamagoss) Report
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