Friday, September 21, 2012

Stretching Meat, Part 1: Tacos

Stretching Meat, Part 1: Tacos

Make a pound of ground beef go further by adding finely chopped and shredded vegetables.

I am always looking for ways to stretch our money while feeding the family the farm fresh produce.  One way, as I've mentioned, is to make 1 pound of ground meat (beef, turkey, chicken) stretch to serve more than 1 meal to our family.  Tacos are one way I've done this recently.

We like to eat tacos, especially when our farm share has salad mix in season (all but the hottest weeks of summer).  One batch of this taco mix can feed us 2 meals if I repurpose the rest into Taco Rice.  Frugal, filling, and a farm fresh feast!

NOTE:  Normally I'd start with uncooked meat, cook it, drain it, set it aside and then toss the veggies in the same pan.  But today I'd tried to make turkey burgers for lunch, using frozen turkey burger patties, and they didn't retain the patty shape so I ended up with a pound of cooked ground turkey and started from there.  Always have a Plan B.

Basic Stretched Meat, Taco Style

1/2 cup finely chopped onion (did the veggies in the food processor)
1/2 cup finely chopped green pepper 
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup finely shredded carrot (switched to the shredding disc-love the fine shred!)
1/2 cup summer squash (this time yellow summer squash)
oil or spray to sauté the veggies
1 pound ground meat, cooked and drained (see NOTE)
1/2 cup corn, cooked (mine was boiled and cut off the cob)
taco mix of your choice, plus the water the mix calls for
taco shells (2-3 per person works here)
shredded cheddar or Colby jack or Mexican blend cheese (about 1-2 tablespoons per person)
sour cream, if you like it

Preheat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add a thin film of oil or spray.  If you are prepping each veggie from scratch, add them to the skillet as they are ready (start with the onions though).  If you're using a previously prepped veggie mix, pour out any extra liquid--cut veggies weep a bit--then dump the whole thing into the skillet.  Stir until softened, about 5 minutes.

Add the cooked meat and corn to the skillet.  Stir to combine.  Add the taco seasoning of your choice, plus the water necessary to sauce it up.  I generally use the amount of seasoning needed for 1 pound of meat, but sometimes add a bit extra water (3/4 cup if the recipe calls for 2/3 cup) if it looks a bit dry.  Simmer 5 minutes and turn the heat down to low.

Serve on warmed taco shells with lettuce, cheese, and salsa (and sour cream).  Over over a plate full of lettuce topped with the broken taco shells, cheese, salsa, and French dressing.

Stay tuned for what to do with the rest of the taco meat! And then the leftovers of that!

Try another recipe for stretching meat, this time burgers, here!  Or meatloaf, here!

This post is linked with What's In The Box!


  1. stretch or no stretch...I need these tacos in my life IMMEDIATELY!!!

    Thanks for sharing and linking up :)

    1. Heather,
      Stretching is always good. In fact, I need to go down to my rack of torture/Reformer in the basement and stretch some more!
      Thanks for hosting!

  2. You're making me want to introduce meat back into my diet.

    1. Meghan,
      Stay strong! You've got valid reasons for keeping meat out of your diet. Don't let my choices influence you! Well, to put something interesting on a pizza, yes, I will happily influence you in that way. Payback for introducing me to beets and oranges in a smoothie.

  3. I love your pictures and recipes, they are mouth watering. Would love for you to share them with us at Over at we are not photography expert snobs, we are just foodies, so pretty much all your pictures will get accepted.

    1. Thanks for the invite--I'll go check it out!

  4. Your food photos are amazing. You can share your mouth watering photos with us at is a new food sharing site and we actually try our best to promote your food photos. At all your food photos will be published without any editorial review so I really hope you come and join us.