In this how-to post, I share three delicious, cheap and easy ground beef recipes for dinner that you can batch-cook ahead of time in 2 hours. You only need 1 kilo (2.2 pounds) of ground beef mince and a few pantry and freezer staples. As well as making the savoury base beef mince, you will make Bolognese, Shepherd’s Pie and Mexican Beef Rice Casserole. Shopping list included!
Batch Cooking Ground Beef Recipes For Dinner
When it comes to budget-friendly cooking, you can’t go past ground beef or beef mince as we call it in Australia. I usually splurge a little and buy grass-fed meat, but even then I still save quite a bit of money by purchasing a whole kilo or two rather than smaller packets.
I use my ground beef batch cooking hack to turn one kilo of mince into three delicious, affordable dinners, all in under 2 hours. Let me show you how!
Make-Ahead Hack: Savoury Beef Mince
My little trick is using a whole bunch of ground beef to make versatile savoury mince. It’s made with sauteed, almost caramelised onions, carrots and celery, garlic and a few simple seasonings. This beef mixture becomes the base for three different dinners: Bolognese, Shepherd’s Pie and Tex Mex Beef & Rice Casserole. There are lots of other ways to use it as well.
Once you’ve cooked this savoury ground beef mince, you can use it as a base right away or you can freeze it in portions for later. To complete each of the dinner dishes, you only need a few extra ingredients from your pantry and freezer.
Three Easy & Cheap Dinners With Ground Beef
The three dinners I make with this savoury ground beef base include:
- Bolognese sauce
- Shepherd’s Pie
- Mexican Beef & Rice Casserole
These dishes use affordable staples, so they are perfect for those on a budget or feeding a family. Each dish serves four so can be done as one dinner or divided into two meals.
I often do meal prep on the weekend, so I will make the Bolognese sauce and the Shepherd’s Pie to eat on Monday and Tuesday/Wednesday and I make the filling for the Tex Mex beef and rice casserole and freeze it for later. Whenever I need a quick and easy dinner, I defrost the mix overnight, then add cooked rice and cheese and bake it! Boom.
You can switch the meals around as they are all great for storing, freezing, thawing out and reheating.
How To Make 3 Dinner Recipes In One Go
There are four parts to the process. The first step is to make the savoury ground beef mince base. Then, I will show you how to turn it into 3 budget-friendly, nutritious and tasty dinner meals that yield four servings each.
Here is the video showing the whole batch cooking process, including each of the ground beef dinner recipes from start to finish. Below are the step-by-step recipes for each of the dinners and the savoury beef mince. You will also find individual videos for each part in the recipe cards.
Video: Batch Cooking Ground Beef & Three Meals
The Base: Savoury Ground Beef Mince
This is the most time-consuming part as it takes a bit of time to cook off the vegetables and such a large amount of ground beef. But once this base is done, the dinners are quick and easy with a handful of extra ingredients.
If I plan to use this base mixture later, I usually divide it into three containers: 2 larger ones and 1 smaller. The larger portions are used in the Bolognese and Shepherd’s Pie and the smaller portion is for the Beef & Rice casserole as it will be bulked up with corn, beans and rice as well.
How Long Does Cooked Ground Beef Last In The Fridge?
Cooked ground beef can last for up to four days in the fridge if it is stored properly. To ensure the longest possible shelf life, make sure to store it in an airtight container or wrapped tightly in plastic wrap or foil to avoid any oxygen.
Can You Freeze Cooked Ground Beef?
If you want to keep the cooked ground beef for longer, you can freeze it. Cooked ground beef can be frozen for up to three months if it is stored in an airtight container or freezer-safe bag. When you’re ready to use the frozen ground beef, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight before reheating or cooking it. I recommend freezing in smaller portions so you only defrost as much as you need.Print
Learn how to make Savoury Beef Mince base from 1 kilo of ground beef that can be turned into multiple dinners or lunches, such as Bolognese, Shepherd’s Pie, Mexican Casserole, tacos, burritos, stews and more.
Basic Savory Beef Mince
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 small to medium onions, finely diced (about 2 cups chopped)
2 celery ribs, chopped into small cubes (about 1.25 cups chopped)
1 large carrot, chopped into small cubes (about 1.25 cups chopped)
3 large cloves of garlic, minced or chopped
1 kg ground beef mince (2.2 lb)
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon soy sauce or gf Tamari
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon white or black pepper
- Add 3 tablespoons olive oil to a large frying pan. Add onions, carrots and celery and season with 1 teaspoon of salt. Cook over medium heat for 10-12 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes, until soft and slightly caramelised.
- Now add another tablespoon of oil and garlic. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, then remove the vegetables to a bowl.
- Place the frying pan back on the heat and increase to high. Add another tablespoon of oil and all of the ground beef mince. Cook over high medium-high heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently and breaking the meat apart with a spatula.
- After about 10 minutes, use a potato masher to break down the meat further. Then add the garlic and onion powders, soy sauce, and another teaspoon of salt and pepper. Stir and return the vegetables to the meat. Stir and cook everything together for 2-3 more minutes.
- Transfer to containers and cool before placing in the fridge or freezer. I recommend 2 larger portions and 1 smaller one for the dinners outlined below but it doesn’t matter too much.
I used grass-fed ground beef (93% lean, 7% fat).
- Serving Size: 2/3 cup
- Calories: 218
- Sugar: 1.5 g
- Sodium: 587.3 mg
- Fat: 12.7 g
- Carbohydrates: 4.1 g
- Fiber: 0.8 g
- Protein: 21.5 g
- Cholesterol: 63 mg
Keywords: Ground Beef Recipes, Ground Beef Meal Prep, Savory Beef, Savoury Beef, Savoury Mince
Bolognese Sauce With Savoury Mince
The pre-cooked ground beef base is perfect for making a Bolognese sauce. You only need a few extra ingredients and 10 minutes of cooking time. The sauce is delicious and very affordable, it should feed at least 4 people. Serve over your favourite pasta, zucchini noodles, rice or quinoa.
Make-ahead: You can refrigerate or freeze the Bolognese sauce if not using it right away. Thaw out overnight if frozen, then reheat properly in a pot before serving.Print
Here is how to make budget-friendly, delicious Bolognese sauce using pre-cooked savoury beef mince.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 larger portion of savoury beef (about 2.5 cups)
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 tsp red chilli flakes
1 teaspoon mixed Italian herbs
500 grams (2 cups or so) of tomato puree sauce/tomato passata
1/2 tsp salt
Heat a heavy saucepan or pan over medium-high heat and add a splash of olive oil.
Add the pre-made beef and once heated, pour in the red wine. Stir for a few seconds and add the chilli flakes, herbs, salt and tomato passata. Stir and cook for about 10 minutes. Serve with pasta, zucchini noodles etc.
The nutrition below is for Bolognese sauce only!
- Serving Size: 1.25 cups of sauce with meat
- Calories: 358
- Sugar: 6.4 g
- Sodium: 1038.4 mg
- Fat: 19.8 g
- Carbohydrates: 12.8 g
- Fiber: 3 g
- Protein: 28.4 g
- Cholesterol: 78.8 mg
Keywords: Bolognese, Pasta Sauce, Ground Beef Sauce, Beef Pasta Sauce
Easy Shepherd’s Pie
Another nutritious and tasty dinner to make with the savoury beef mince is an old-school Shepherd’s Pie or Cottage Pie as it is also known. I like to use white and sweet potatoes for the mashed potato crust for extra nutrients. The pie can be made with or without the cheese on top.
Make-ahead: You can refrigerate or freeze the filling by itself or you can pre-make the whole casserole with cheese and store it (tightly covered) in the fridge or freezer without baking it. Thaw out overnight if frozen, then bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes to heat through properly.
Other ways to use the filling: This beef filling can be served over rice or mashed potatoes, inside soft buns, over sourdough toast, with fried eggs, turned into soup or stew and more.Print
Here is the recipe for how to make budget-friendly, nutritious Shepherd’s Pie (or Cottage Pie) with pre-made savoury beef mince, mashed white and sweet potatoes and grated cheese. Yum!
For Shepherd’s Pie filling
1 teaspoon butter
1 larger portion of the pre-made beef (2 cups)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup frozen baby peas
1/2 cup frozen sweet corn
1 cup tomato passata (pureed sauce)
1/2 cup water
For flour slurry
2 tablespoons flour
3–4 tablespoons water
For mashed potatoes
5 medium white potatoes
1/2 medium to large sweet potato
1 teaspoon salt
2–3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup milk
1 – 1.5 cups grated cheese (can be omitted)
- Prepare the mashed potatoes ahead of time. Place the potatoes in a small pot and cover with cold water, season with salt. Bring to a boil and cook for 10-15 minutes until soft. Drain, return to the pot and add the butter and milk. Mash together until smooth-ish and set aside. Taste for salt and season if needed.
- Heat a heavy saucepan or pan over medium-high heat and add a splash of olive oil. Add the pre-made beef, cinnamon, thyme and salt and stir through. Add the frozen peas and corn, no need to thaw out. Stir for a minute and then add the tomato sauce and water. Stir and cook together for a couple of minutes.
- In the meantime, whisk the flour and a little water in a bowl until smooth. Stir it in this flour flurry into the beef mixture. It will thicken the sauce into a nice, glossy gravy.
- Transfer the filling to a casserole dish and flatten with a spatula. Spread the mashed potatoes over the top and sprinkle evenly with cheese.
- Bake in the 200 C / 400 F for 12-15 minutes until the cheese melts and turns golden brown.
You can use gluten-free flour or tapioca flour for the slurry.
The nutrition below is for Shepherd’s pie baked with cheese.
- Serving Size: 1/4 of the casserole
- Calories: 698
- Sugar: 10 g
- Sodium: 1499.4 mg
- Fat: 36.3 g
- Carbohydrates: 57.7 g
- Protein: 37.7 g
- Cholesterol: 128.2 mg
Keywords: Shepherd’s Pie, Cottage Pie, Beef Potato Casserole, Beef Potato Casserole, Ground Beef Casserole
Mexican Beef & Rice Casserole Recipe
One of my favourite dinners with ground beef is a Mexican or Tex Mex rice casserole. The savoury mince is the perfect base for this dish. I add sweet corn, black beans, cooked rice, tomatoes and a few basic spices to make up the casserole.
Topped with cheese and baked, it’s absolutely delicious and so easy. And don’t forget all your favourite toppings like chunky guacamole, sour cream, corn chips, jalapenos and so on.
Make-ahead: You can refrigerate or freeze the filling by itself or you can pre-make the whole casserole with rice and cheese and store it (tightly covered) in the fridge or freezer without baking it. Thaw out overnight if frozen, then bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes to heat through properly.
Other ways to use the Tex Mex filling: The beef filling can be used to make tacos, burritos, naked burrito bowls, quesadillas, enchiladas, taco soup or chili, with fried eggs for breakfast and more.
My favourite topping is chunky guacamole with cherry tomatoes, lime and plenty of coriander (cilantro). It’s almost like a little avocado tomato salad. Included in the recipe below.Print
Definitely try this budget-friendly, delicious and hearty Mexican Casserole with savoury ground beef, rice and beans. Baked with cheese on top and served with your favourite Tex Mex toppings like chunky guacamole, sour cream, jalapenos and corn chips.
For the beef filling
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 smaller portion of pre-made savoury beef (about 1.5 cups)
1.5 tsp smoked paprika
1.5 tsp cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
1 cup frozen sweet corn
1 can black beans, drained (400 g/14 oz, about 1.5 cups)
1 can chopped tomatoes (400 ml/14 oz or about 1.5 cups)
2 tablespoons BBQ sauce
2 tablespoons chopped coriander/cilantro
For baking the casserole
3 cups cooked rice (1 cup uncooked long-grain white rice)
2 tablespoons BBQ sauce
1.25 cups grated cheddar, Tasty or other cheese
1/4 cup sour cream
6 cherry tomatoes
1/4 red onion
1/4 chopped cilantro
Juice of 1 lime
1 small garlic clove
A pinch of salt
Optional: Crushed corn chips for crunch.
- Heat a heavy saucepan or pan over medium-high heat and add a splash of olive oil. Add the pre-made beef, paprika, cumin, oregano, salt and chilli flakes, and stir through.
- Add the frozen corn (no need to thaw out), drained black beans and canned tomatoes, stir through and cook for 2 minutes or so. Then add the BBQ sauce and stir. Finish with fresh coriander. This mixture can be frozen or stored or you can continue making the casserole.
- You will need 3 cups of cooked rice (1 cup uncooked). Add the beef filling and the rice to a casserole dish and combine. Flatten with a spatula and spread the extra BBQ sauce over the top. Sprinkle the grated cheese evenly. Bake in the 200 C / 400 F oven for 10-15 minutes, until the cheese melts and turns into a golden, brown crust.
- In the meantime, combine guacamole ingredients and set aside. Serve it on top of the cooked casserole along with a dollop of sour cream and some crushed corn chips for extra crunch.
This dish serves between 4-5 people depending on the toppings or sides. I calculated the nutrition for 4 servings with chunky guacamole and sour cream, and this would be pretty substantial portions.
- Serving Size: 1/5 of the casserole
- Calories: 822
- Sugar: 12.4 g
- Sodium: 1705.7 mg
- Fat: 35.7 g
- Carbohydrates: 89 g
- Protein: 39.9 g
- Cholesterol: 93.1 mg
Keywords: Casserole, Mexican, Tex Mex, Ground Beef Recipes, Ground Beef Dinners, Baked, Rice Recipes