Welcome to Beef Week 2018! This year, we are celebrating beef’s power to make cooking on a tight budget feel easy, exciting, and even luxurious. Won’t you join us? 
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Credit: Gina DeSimone; Prop Styling: Kashara Johnson; Food Styling: Ivy Odom

The week leading up to Super Bowl Sunday is a special time for us at MyRecipes—this is the week we have arbitrarily christened as Beef Week. It is a time to come together and take delight in all things beef, all week long. Why do we do this? Great question! We do it because time and time again, we find beef to be just about the most versatile, reliable, and all-around satisfying animal protein out there. It is both approachable and exquisite—familiar, yet exciting. In short, beef is beautiful.

In Beef Week’s inaugural year (i.e. last year), we focused on how to beef it up big to tackle your Super Bowl party, as well as your general winter comfort food cravings, by diving into the art of cooking the Perfect Roasted Beef Tenderloin—and then using that beefy goodness in a variety of awesome recipes. It was a phenomenal display of beef. However, this year, we decided to celebrate beef as the everyday dinner hero that it so often is; thus, the theme of Beef Week 2018 is beef on a budget. Which means that over the coming week, we will be sharing tricks for turning low-cost cuts into fabulous meals, shopping tips for getting the most for your money, and smart ways to make ground beef an ingredient you’re actually excited about. Pretty groovy, huh?

Plus, each day we will highlight brilliantly beefy dishes that exemplify beef's aptitude for making inexpensive meals feel like something special. So let’s hop to it with our first dish of Beef Week: Meatloaf Spaghetti. (If that recipe title doesn’t catch your attention, we need to talk.)

This hearty, family-friendly recipe, which highlights the OG of budget beef (ground), is very much what it sounds like—a marriage of two comfort food classics, meatloaf and spaghetti. And yes, it’s a real rib-sticker. The tangy-sweet, boldly beefy sauce delivers both a surprising depth of flavor and a delicious sense of familiarity… consider it a bolognese inspired by the classic flavors of meatloaf. It is truly a best-of-ground beef dish. Now, if the idea of putting ketchup in your spaghetti sauce is an immediate turn-off, I understand, but I am going to tell you is this: Take a deep breath, and trust. I will be entirely honest with you, Meatloaf Spaghetti tastes a lot like a good homemade sloppy Joe filling (definitely more sophisticated than Manwich) spooned on top of pasta… and you may not know this yet, but that is such a great thing. I also have a feeling most kids would be pretty into it. We especially love Whataburger brand ketchup (which you can order on Amazon if you don’t live in Texas) in this application, but Heinz works dandy too. And because no meatloaf is complete without breadcrumbs, we finish this fun play on pasta night off with buttery toasted panko (the perfect final touch of crunch!).

Besides tapping budget-savvy ground beef in a deliciously playful way, the wonderful thing about this meaty mash-up is that you can easily make it your own. If you want to to slip some veggies in, feel free to add finely chopped mushrooms and bell peppers. Do you typically use mustard or molasses in your meatloaf glaze? Well, stir a little into the sauce and see how it goes. This is your party, and you can add what you want to! While part of the charm of this weeknight-friendly meal is the fact that you can throw it together at a moment’s notice, as long as you have a package of ground beef and a few pantry staples, this sauce is for sure one of those that tastes even better after a night in the fridge… so prepping it a day ahead when possible is highly recommended. As is doubling the recipe so you have sauce to stash in the freezer.

Be sure to come back tomorrow for more beefy inspiration, and show us your favorite ways to make beef work for your budget by sharing with the hashtag #BeefMyWeek.

By Darcy Lenz and Darcy Lenz