I’m a huge fan of making leftovers into something a little more exciting for lunches.
I’ve done it with chicken and come up with two of my very favorite recipes: Indian Spiced Zucchini Fritters and Avocado Chicken Salad. Last week, I turned my eye on ground beef…mainly because it was day 1 of my Whole30 and I was woefully unprepared but also because it’s a staple in my freezer, and I find that’s true for most people.
Now I have to confess, I’ve never been a huge fan of ground beef. A steak? Yes. Grind it up? Not so much. Growing up, I was the kid that ordered the ham and cheese sandwich at Burger King (man, I loved those things) and a filet o’fish at McDonald’s. If my mom made meatloaf, I ate around it (and probably made gagging sounds). I was thankful for years that she never made Hamburger Helper – can you imagine how long it would have taken me to pick out all those bits of beef?
As I’ve grown up (sort of) and learned about things like budgeting and feeding a family, I’ve come to appreciate ground beef. It’s inexpensive, even for better quality and more humanely produced. It stretches…and stretches…and stretches. And if you’re like I used to be and not really a fan, this would work equally well with already cooked chicken (perfect for all that cooked chicken I’m stockpiling thanks to stock-making in the pressure cooker), or ground chicken or turkey.
I was amazed to find that a little over a pound of ground beef, cooked simply with an onion and some coconut oil, was able to give me three completely different meals when paired with vegetables and spices I can always find in my fridge or pantry. They’re not fancy, but they’re filling and they’re fast…and sometimes that’s more important. I planned each of these to be one rather large lunch, but it would be easy to cook up a few pounds of ground beef to freeze in larger portions for family sized meals.
First things first…sweat a chopped onion in a frying pan with a tablespoon of coconut oil until translucent over medium heat. Add the ground beef, some salt and pepper. Cook until browned through.
Portion out the ground beef into separate meal sized servings. Ignore my dirty stove top. And yeah, it’s in plastic. I’m working towards getting rid of it, but for now it is what it is. I divided mine in thirds. I should have done it in fourths – I couldn’t finish any of these.
From here, it took me about 5 minutes to finish off each bowl.
Add to the ground beef a sliced zucchini, mushrooms and some baby bok choy. Season with a little garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes. Stir fry until done. Toss with a tablespoon of coconut aminos.
Seriously, it’s that easy. With pre-sliced mushrooms, it took me two minutes to prep the rest of the veggies.
Reheat the meat with as much chili powder and cumin as you like (for about a cup of ground beef, I used a teaspoon or so of chili powder and half the amount of cumin). Dump on a bed of greens and top with chopped tomatoes and a lot of avocado.
I also added a few heavy dashes of my brother-in-law’s homemade pepper sauce.
With leftover salad from the night before, the only time investment in this meal is heating the beef and cutting the avocado. Awesome.
Add a bit of coconut oil to the frying pan, then saute the mushrooms until tender. Add in the ground beef to reheat, along with a teaspoon and a half of Italian seasoning (or garlic, oregano and basil). Wilt in 4 big handfuls of spinach and some chopped tomatoes. Drizzle with a little olive oil before eating.
Once I’m off this Whole30, I’ve got plans for a pizza one based on this one with some added pepperoni and olives. A little mozzarella or parmesan would probably make a nice addition to that one.
How do you make leftovers more exciting?
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