Photo: Jennifer Causey; Styling: Lindsey Lower

Beefin' on a budget just got so much easier. 

Antara Sinha
February 02, 2018

As delicious and versatile as beef is, let’s be honest—it isn’t always the cheapest protein to reach for at the supermarket. The good news: If you’re looking to indulge in a pricier cut of beef, like a ribeye or New York strips, or even just trying to stretch some ground beef for a few more people, you can easily make it feed a family and get the most for your money with a few sneaky and effortless tricks.

Treat beef as a side instead of a main. 

Filling up on meat alone can be a pricey (but delicious, we’ll admit) endeavor. However by adding a few other equally-awesome components to your meal—a pasta dish, some grilled veggies, a soup, a few special condiments—you’ll be able to get by with a little less meat than if it was the star of the plate. 
 
Want to keep it simple? These Roasted Root Vegetables are hearty, and only take a few minutes of prep and caramelize beautifully in your oven while you focus on the steak. Rosemary and maple syrup make this taste date-night worthy.

Photo: Jennifer Causey  

 
 
This Cacio e Pepe only requires a few ingredients (most of which are pantry staples), meaning you won’t need to fuss over purchasing additional pricey ingredients. That said, it’s rich and creamy enough that you can count on serving up smaller portions of beef on the side.

Cacio e Pepe image

Photo: Gina Desimone; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis; Food Styling: Adam Dolge

Bulk it up with a salad.

Paired with tons of fresh veggies and herbs, a less-expensive cut of beef, like hanger or skirt, can stretch to feed a few mouths, while saving you a boat-load at the butcher counter. Also, steak salads are just plain awesome. All of that savory beefiness, with the bonus of being able to customize your meal to whatever you’re in the mood for or ingredients you have on hand.
 
Craving a French-style Steak Salad Niçoise? This recipe takes an 8-ounce New York strip steak, and stretches the meal with potatoes, eggs, fresh veggies and tangy dressing to make four hearty entrée-sized salads.

Photo: Jennifer Causey; Styling: Claire Spollen


 
This Tuscan Steak Salad takes an 8-ounce strip steak, and with the help of leafy greens and herbs, stretches it into an utterly elegant for a meal for two. Keeping it simple with cheese and greens allows the steak shine without putting a dent in your wallet.
 

Add a second protein.

Got a date night? Instead of splurging on two ribeyes, get one and grab some shrimp (you could even swing it with frozen) or on-sale seafood of your choice as well—a surf-and-turf meal feels just as (if not more) special, without breaking the bank.
 
This Roasted Shrimp with Mushrooms, Broccolini, and Foaming Chive Butter Sauce makes for a filling, flavor-packed accompaniment to a great cut of beef and definitely won’t leave you peckish after your meal. Bonus: This recipe is worth making for the chive butter sauce alone.

Photo: Brian Woodcock; Styling: Paige Hicks


 
Looking for a one-pan wonder that you can toss into the oven as you’re searing your steak? This Roasted Gulf Shrimp with Romesco Sauce only takes 20 minutes of prep, and makes for a juicy shrimp partner to your steak with minimal effort.

Photo: Hector Sanchez; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

Add some legumes or grains to the mix.

If you’re trying to stretch ground beef to feed a crowd (think meatballs, tacos or a meatloaf), try adding lentils, toothsome brown rice, or beans to the mix. This smart trick adds bulk and added nutrients, but will still taste/feel beautifully beefy. Ideal for anyone trying to feed a family, adding a little bit of extender to your beef means you only need to purchase a fraction of the amount you would normally use.
 
A family favorite, like an Old-Fashioned Meatloaf, can still remain a guaranteed crowd-pleaser, even if you swapped a third of the meat for cooked lentils. One effortless substitution makes this classic, beautifully seasoned dish way easier on your wallet, and still a mainstay in your regular dinner rotation.
 
Trying to make taco night happen on a tight budget? These Beef Chorizo Tacos with Cabbage Slaw are just as tasty if you swap out half of the ground sirloin with some beans instead. The filling is flavorful and fragrant enough with the cumin, garlic, and paprika that you won’t even notice you’re eating less beef.

Photo: Jennifer Causey; Styling: Claire Spollen

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