I’m a mama of two boys ages three and one and I’m just starting to see glimpses of just how much boys eat. It’s only just the beginning, I know, but I can definitely see where this is heading and I am definitely a little afraid. Feeding a growing family can be costly, especially if you want to add more organics to your diet. Not many of us can afford to buy everything organic but I try and pick and choose what’s most important and buy what I can.
One of the things I always try to buy organic is ground beef. We don’t eat much red meat in our house so when we do, we splurge in this area and go for the organic from places like Trader Joe’s who have good prices on organic meats. On top of that I try and cut costs by preparing it in a way that stretches my meat and my dollar at the same time and one of my favorite ways to do this is with Bolognese. With just 1 pound of ground beef I can feed my family of four plus, have extras to freeze for another night’s meal. So, in a sense I’m getting two meals out of one pound of beef and (even cooler) out of one dinner preparation.
Bolognese all on it’s own is a great way to make ground beef (or chicken or turkey) go a long way, but what I also like to do is add in a ton of finely chopped fresh veggies to my sauce. This not only makes it more filling, but also ups the nutritional value (more veggies into the kids—yay!). I love that it’s a one dish meal that provides my family with carbs, protein and veggies in one deliciously—easy and affordable meal. The leftover sauce freezes beautifully and is a saving grace sitting in my freezer for those nights when I just don’t feel like cooking. The beauty of this dish is that it can be made with any ground meat and veggies you have on hand. And even cooler it’s FAST! After you chop the veggies, the sauce comes together in literally the same time it takes to boil water and cook your pasta.
Heads Up Vegetarians!!: Swap out the ground beef for your favorite veggie crumble/meat substitute or just use all veggies and still have one rockin’ meal. All you have to do is finely chop 3-4 cups of your favorite veggies and follow the recipe as written.
Chock Full-O-Veggies Beef Bolognese
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small zucchini, finely chopped
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
- 3 mushrooms, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 (15 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 1 lb mezzi rigatoni or your favorite cut of pasta
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1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add in zucchini, onion, carrot, mushrooms and garlic. Sauté until vegetables begin to get soft, about 5 minutes.
Stir in tomato paste. Add the ground beef and use a wooden spoon to break it up. Cook beef about 6-8 minutes or until it begins to brown.
Season with salt and pepper and stir in tomato sauce. Reduce heat to low and allow sauce to simmer for 10-12 minutes while pasta is cooking.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until al dente, approximately 8 minutes or according to your package directions. Drain pasta and toss with 2-3 cups of the sauce. Freeze the remaining sauce in an airtight container for up to three months.
Christina Stanley-Salerno is a mama, recipe developer, food stylist, photographer and blogger atTakeBackYourTable.com. She loves cooking for and with her family. Life is hectic, but Christina is passionate about mealtime because she believes that family meals are the glue that holds everyone together. Creating simple, quick and healthy meals is her specialty and her trick to keeping the family meal a reality, even on busy weeknights.
Follow her on Twitter @TakeBackTables