How to Stretch Ground Beef & Bulk Meatball Recipe


The cost of ground beef has sky rocketed lately.  I was shocked to pay $10 for a 2.25 lb. package and my incentive to learn to stretch that burger was just as high as the price tag.

I made a recipe of meatballs for the freezer.  My original recipe makes about 88 meatballs.  I made a half recipe, which would have yielded 44 meatballs, but I used brown rice to stretch the meat.  I was able to get 69 meatballs.  That’s a whole extra meal!    (New recipe at the bottom of this post.)

As a bonus, I think these meatballs are better than the original.  They are more tender and have a great flavor.  The kids did notice the rice in them and asked about it, but they were fine with it.

I think you could do this with meatloaf or meat patties too.  And I want to try adding rice to ground beef that I brown for tacos or spaghetti.  If you’ve tried that, please leave a comment and tell me how it worked.

Use Less or Skip the Beef

Of course, another way to stretch beef is to just use less than a recipe calls for.  In casseroles and soups, try cutting the amount you normally use in half.

Mommy’s Kitchen used beans to stretch a taco meal.  This Chili Rice Skillet Dinner from Lynn’s Kitchen already has beans and rice, along with the ground beef.  You could increase one or both of those, while decreasing the beef and still have a tasty dish.

Another idea is to skip the beef.  Lentil Tacos are just as tasty (maybe more so) than beef tacos.  Or try these Snobby Joes from Kosher on a Budget.

Unfortunately, it’s not just ground beef that is going up in price.  Mara, from Kosher on a Budget has an excellent post on How to Prepare for Rising Food Costs.

Bulk Meatball Recipe


  • 2.25 lbs. lean ground beef
  • 2 cups bread crumbs
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 1/2 cups cooked brown rice 1 cup dry rice will yield this
  • 1/2 of an onion diced
  • 2 Tbs. worcestershire sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Mix all ingredients in a stand mixer or by hand in a large bowl.
  2. Roll into balls.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees on foil lined pan for 20-25 minutes.

Recipe Notes

These meatballs can be frozen.


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  1. I am also trying to find ways to stretch meats, especially ground beef. My husband refuses to eat any meal without meat, which makes it a little more difficult. I made taco rice filling last night. You brown a pound of hamburger meat with chopped onion, then add in 1(15 oz) can diced tomatoes, a packet of taco seasoning, and 2 cups cooked rice. Mix it all together in large skillet and let simmer about 5 minutes. Use in your tortillas just like you would plain taco meat. It made a LOT more taco filling, in fact, we have plenty leftover for lunch today, and my husband said the tacos were much better that way. When I make meatballs I add about 1 cup cooked rice to the meat and brown in the skillet and serve with brown gravy. We call them “porcupine meatballs”. It makes a little bit more and they are more filling that way. I also use brown rice which stays with me longer than white rice.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing the link to my Snobby Joe’s recipe!

    I’ve been thinking about how to stretch the meat as well lately. I’ve tried quick oats with some success. I’ll have to give cooked rice a try!

  3. I have a meatloaf recipe I make that is so incredibly wonderful. I add a shredded zucchini and a shredded carrot to it in order to bulk it up. It makes a big difference! And my son is eating veggies too!

  4. If you know someone who raises beef, ask them how much a quarter- or half-beef would run you. I have a cousin who raises beef and, although I do get a slight discount for being family, my beef is generally cheaper than grocery store meat AND it tastes better, despite not being certified organic or “certified” grass-fed. (Well, my hamburger is only a little bit more expensive than grocery-store hamburger, but my steaks and roasts are way cheaper.)

  5. I always add rice and beans to my taco meat to stretch one pound of ground beef into two meals for my family of 7. We love it!

  6. We are a single income family of 7. I *NEED* to stretch everything! I use a combination of brown rice & cooked lentils to stretch my ground beef. Works wonderfully. Lentils are a great source of fiber and protein. I will, on occasion, cook the lentils with some beef bouillon (for flavor).

  7. I have recently started adding a few cups of shredded carrots to a pound of beef that I am going to brown. Once it’s cooked down, and especially when I’m adding taco (or other) seasonings, you hardly notice that it’s there b/c the color blends in. It bulks it up, and adds some nutrition and fiber!

  8. Nancy Fleming says:

    I have stretched our hamburger with minced potatoes. I learned this from the mother of one of my daughter’s friends. She added one (big) potato, minced very fine, to a pound of hamburger. It tasted great, absorbed the taco seasoning very well, and made at least 4 more tacos. When my kids were little, this was a real money saver. I put oatmeal and veggies in meatloaf, and use cornflake crumbs in meatballs, too. When rump roast was cheaper than ground beef, I’d buy a rump roast, roast it, then slice it on my slicer. Then I’d measure it out in 3 ounce servings, two servings per package. I use it in stir fries, soups and sandwiches. Two perfect servings for my retired husband and myself. A good slicer and a good meat grinder are two very important investments in the kitchen. Both have helped me save money.

  9. to get my ground beef to stretch a little further, add a can of rinsed beans. Mexican, I use Pinto, Italian, I use white beans. I mash a little and keep some whole. They absorb the flavors and I think it is more fiber than rice.

  10. I always add beans or rice to meals like tacos, soup or burgers. It stretches a lot further and you hardly notice any difference!

  11. I’ve never added rice to taco meat, however I always add Spanish rice to my burrito’s along with refried beans so I’m sure you could add it to taco’s with no problem. It would probably add to the flavor. Not the refried beans, but the Spanish rice,

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