How to manage beefed-up meat prices

$5 Dinner Mom shares her easy trick to stretch the protein

As meat prices take a bigger bite out of family grocery budgets, The $5 Dinner Mom Erin Chase, says it pays to tweak your recipes to stretch the protein and your dollars.

SAN ANTONIO – Meatless Monday is one way to cope with the soaring prices of beef, pork and poultry. But what about the rest of the week?

“I want you to think about, ‘How do I extend this protein because the protein is the most expensive part of any meal,” said Erin Chase, author and creator of She’s also mom of four growing kids.

“It’s a little shocking, the percentage we’ve seen it (meat) going up over the last year,” Chase said.

And, this year, the USDA predicts beef prices will rise nearly 7%, and poultry prices will inflate by nearly 8%.

So, how can you put an affordable dinner on the table?

“The best thing to do is stretch that the animal protein by adding refried beans mixed into your ground beef or ground turkey or just a can of black beans into your tacos.”

To make her oven tacos, she browned a pound of ground beef and added a can of 69-cent black beans and an 88-cent can of tomatoes with green chilies. Add to that a couple spoonsful of homemade taco seasoning, assemble into $1.23 taco shells and sprinkle with shredded cheese, which she buys in bulk from a warehouse club. Buying generic or store brands is an obvious way to save, too.

“You can go from having four servings to quickly having six to eight servings,” she said.

No matter the meat, she says you can stretch it by adding other proteins such as lentils or cannellini beans that are filling and nutritious but cheaper.

Five-dollar dinners are more challenging now than 13 years ago when she started her savings journey. But, with a tweak or two, the family cook will have the secret recipe for savings.

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About the Authors:

As a consumer reporter, Marilyn is all about helping people stay safe and save a buck. Since coming to KSAT in 1985, she’s covered everything from crime to politics, winning awards for her coverage of the Mexican Mafia, Oklahoma tornadoes, children’s transplants, an investigation into voting irregularities and even a hit-and-run Santa Claus.