The Frugal Café | Photo credit: Rebecca Anne, "Flora's Cup"</a> | Creative Commons License,
Photo credit: Rebecca Anne, "Flora's Cup" | Creative Commons License,

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Skillet Macaroni and Beef Recipe

By Vicki McClure Davidson


Elbow macaroni added to ground beef, tomato sauce, vegetables, and spices makes a cheap and quick dinner that kids love. | Photo credit: ndrake,
Elbow macaroni added to ground beef, tomato sauce, vegetables, and spices makes a cheap and quick dinner that kids love. | Photo credit: ndrake,

You know those packaged boxes of "meat helper" meals (minus any actual meat, usually hamburger, that you have to buy separately, thus adding to your cash outlay) that supposedly save you time and money? Don't you EVER believe it, and don't buy them. They are so expensive compared to what you can do on your own. Remember, DIY will usually save you a lot of money... especially in the kitchen.

DIY "meat helper" meals take about the same amount of time to prepare and cost at least half (sometimes more) what a pricey manufactured "meat helper" box of a bit of rice or pasta and a puny little packet of powdered flavoring stuff costs. Unless it's on some kind of zowie, eye-popping sale for the packaged meat helper, you're usually better off nutritionally and financially making your own.

Kids love macaroni, and preparing this beefy skillet dish is not only extremely frugal and fast, but is quite filling. A lot of "bang for your buck" with this macaroni and beef dish.

And more servings from this than with that manufactured meat helper stuff.

You can be creative and use other vegetables in it, like some chopped sweet green pepper, a handful of frozen peas or edamame, some chopped carrots or parsnips, a half cup of thinly sliced broccoli florets... it's up to you. If desired, you can also sprinkle some grated cheese or seasoned bread crumbs over each serving.


Skillet Macaroni and Beef Recipe


In a heavy 12-inch skillet over moderately high heat, cook the ground beef, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until browned.

Using a slotted spoon, remove the beef to a bowl and set aside. Add the zucchini and onion to the skillet and cook uncovered for about 3 minutes. Drain/remove the remaining hamburger grease from the skillet.

Return the browned ground beef to the skillet, and add the macaroni, tomato sauce, salt, Worcestershire sauce, basil, oregano, and enough water to cover the macaroni and beef. Cover the skillet, reduce the heat, and simmer for 13 to 17 minutes, or until the macaroni is tender. Stir occasionally and test the macaroni after 13 minutes.

Note: You can substitute other leftover meat for the ground beef. A terrific way to use up leftover turkey.


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Source: Reader's Digest, Quick, Thrifty Cooking, Pleasantville, New York, 1985.