Four Cheap Meals With Beef Mince Base

I think that this recipe is ideal for young people living away from home for the first time and just learning to cook on a budget. It's cheaper, healthier, and possibly quicker than popping out to buy a takeaway meal.  No need to buy larger quantities of vegetables than are needed - baking potatoes, carrots, and onions can all be purchased as single items from the veg counter in many supermarkets, from market stalls, or from greengrocers shops.

Once the basic recipe has been prepared any leftovers can be refrigerated for a couple of days. Here's how to ring the changes with  400g of minced beef to make four meals.

The first meal feeds two people and the remaining mixture makes two single meals.  You could add more vegetables, if desired, to make the mince stretch further.

Day I - a variation of spaghetti Bolognaise - 

  • Make the traditional Italian Holy Trinity by dicing onion, celery and carrots in the proportions 2:1.1 (One onion is sufficient for 400 g mince) Note - cooks who are short of time or enthusiasm for chopping can buy this mixture in some supermarkets. It's in a pack labelled 'Sofritto'.

  • Gently saute the vegetables in a little oil to release the sugars 

  • Add  half of a diced bell pepper and cook for another minute or two

  • Add 400g of minced beef (I prefer 5% fat) and quickly brown the mince

  • Add one 400g can of chopped tomatoes, one or two finely chopped or minced cloves of garlic, and enough hot chicken stock to cover the mixture

  • Add fresh or dried herbs according to personal preference ( I like thyme or oregano and a bay leaf) and one tablespoon of tomato puree (optional).

  • Add half a teaspoon of sugar (to reduce the tartness of the tomatoes), and salt and black pepper.

  • Simmer on a low heat for around 30 minutes, until the sauce has thickened.

  • Taste, adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve half of the mixture in two portions, accompanied by pasta.
  • Cover and refrigerate the remaining sauce as soon as it is cool.

Day 2 - 
reheat one half of the remaining mixture and serve with a baked jacket potato. Add a side salad of green leaves, if desired.

Day 3 - 

 add chilli flakes or a chopped chilli pepper, half a teaspoon of smoked paprika, and a small can of red kidney beans to the remaining mince mixture.

Reheat and serve with boiled rice ( I prefer brown, as it contains some fibre and is lower on the glycemic index than white rice)