Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Stretching your ground beef...without sacrificing flavor or texture!

Several years ago, I was talking with a group of friends about stretching our food budgets-- specifically meats.  One friend shared how she stretched her ground beef supply.  She added TVP to her ground beef as she was browning it.  My 1st reaction:  “that’s weird”.  I went away from our conversation flabbergasted, intrigued, appalled, and “weirded out”---yet at the same time feeling extremely contemplative and curious.

After weeks of thinking on our conversation….curiosity won out.  I wanted to try it.  Winco sells TVP in their bulk bins, and I thought, “What’s the harm in buying a small amount to TRY it?”   So I brought home about 2 large handfuls and added it to my next ground beef.  And you know what???  Not one person could tell….and though it may be “Strange”” it really does work!

What is TVP? TVP stands for Textured Vegetable Protein.  Basically it is like imitation bacon bits without the flavoring!  So when you add it to your browning ground beef, it soaks in the juices and flavor of the surrounding meat and spices.
Here's what Honeyville Grain (a company who sells it) says: "is a meat analogue product produced through a special extrusion process which provides a 100% vegetable product that approaches the texture and structure of meat. This highly nutritious meat substitute is processed from defatted soy flour which contains more than 52% protein along with 18% total dietary fiber. Textured Vegetable Protein has been used for many years in U.S. Food Nutritional Service programs, and has been an integral part of the School Lunch program because the recognized health and nutritional benefit of soy protein in the diet. The added benefit of low moisture and low fat content make it an ideal product for long term food storage and family preparedness."

I like ground beef.  However, the idea of my ground beef being ½ TVP bothers me….yet the idea of stretching a higher priced item on my budget to go farther makes me willing to use TVP.  However, I personally do NOT add it to ALL my ground beef.  I like to add a little to the ground beef that is added to a lot of other things—such as sauces, sloppy joes, spaghetti sauce and lasagna.  My family and friends can’t tell the difference!!  In fact, most don't know that they have ever eaten TVP!!

Recently I made lasagna and took step-by-step pictures of the meat and tomato sauce, including of what it looked like in the different stages of it with and without the TVP.  Here is my modified Betty Crocker recipe for Lasagna.

Lasagna (makes 2)--I freeze one for later
1 lb. ground beef
2 handfuls TVP
1 med. Onion, chopped (about ½ c.)
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 Tbsp. parsley  flakes
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. basil
½ tsp. salt
2 cans tomatoes, undrained—(We like them chopped really fine!)
2 cans (15 oz.) tomato sauce
16 oz. cottage cheese
¼ c. parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp. parsley flakes
1 ½  tsp.  oregano
2 c. mozzarella cheese, shredded
¼ c. parmesan cheese
¾ c. water
uncooked lasagna noodles

1.       Meat mixture:  Cook and drain meat, adding TVP when the pink is about to disappear.
 Add onion, garlic until soft and tender.
Picture of adding TVP to the almost done meat/onion/garlic mixture...
Add in 2 Tbsp. parsley flakes, sugar, basil,  salt, tomatoes, and tomato sauce.
Picture of meat mixture (with TVP) AND spices....
This is the thickened and completed lasagna sauce....can't find any TVP, huh?
Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally.  Reduce heat and simmer until slightly thickened (about 45 min.)

2.       Cheese Mixture: mix cottage cheese, ¼ c. parmesan cheese, 1Tbsp. parsley and oregano.

3.  Assembly:  Spread 1 c. of meat sauce mixture in ungreased baking dish.  Top with noodles. 
Spread cheese mixture on top of noodles.  Top with some meat mixture.  Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. 
Repeat with noodles, meat sauce and cheese to create 3 layers of noodles.

4. On the last layer there will only be the meat mixture and shredded cheese.
Bake 375 ˚F covered with aluminum foil for 1 hr.  Then cook uncovered for 10 min. for cheese to bubble golden brown!

Where can you find TVP?
  • Winco ($1.79  per pound...just remember this is lightweight stuff...just like bacon bits!!)
  • Macey’s (a grocery store in Utah & Idaho)
  • www.honeyvillegrain.com Cost: $9.99 for a #10 can aka. big coffee can or $48 for 6 #10 cans. (I love this company because their prices are good, and they have GREAT shipping prices too! They have a flat fee of $4.47 REGARDLESS of how much you order for anywhere in the lower 48 states!)  P.S.  I buy more than one type of product they offer...and when friends order together the shipping can become really low.  Just divide the shipping among all the people who ordered equally!  The lowest shipping I paid when spitting the cost was 20 cents!
Happy Stretching Pennies...

1 comment:

  1. Good article. Good idea on honeyville. I like Winco's prices on all their bulk items. I have gotten my whole corn for tortillas from honeyville, good products, very clean. Keep up the good work.