Make Your Meat go Further

Meat is generally the most expensive component of a meal, by using less or making it go further we can significantly reduce our annual grocery spend. 

Most recipes will suggest 500g (1/2 pound) of meat for a recipe for 4 people. A good kicking off point is to consider if you can to reduce this without compromising the flavour or nutritional profile of the meal.

You can significantly reduce your grocery spending over a year if you simply get in the habit of making meat go a long way.  


Will you get enough protein?
Meat is only one source of protein in a healthy diet, you will also get protein from eggs, nuts and dairy products through the course of the day. Many people eat far more protein than their body needs.

Will you get enough iron?
When you use less meat in your meals you will need to be aware of iron. Red meat in particular is an excellent source of iron and in a form that is easy for the body to utilise. Many other foods contain “non haem “iron (not from meat iron). It is not as readily absorbed as the iron in meat but the absorption of non haem iron can be significantly improved by simply including some vitamin c with your meals.

Fresh fruit and vegetables are the cheapest and easiest way to include vitamin C with your meal. Include something fresh every time you eat for optimum iron absorption.

  • Squeeze lemon or orange juice into marinades and over salads, and finish the meal with a slice or two of fresh fruit.
  • Try to avoid drinking coffee and tea directly after a meal as caffeine and tannin (present in tea) both significantly inhibit the absorption of non haem iron.

Use these techniques to gradually reduce the amount of meat in a recipe

  • Cut meat very finely for stir fries – allow 350-400g for 4 people
  • Shredding cooked chicken using two forks makes it go a long way
  • Add lentils or other pulses to mince dishes to extend them
  • Add extra vegetables,the healthiest, cheapest way to extend a meal

Red lentils can be simmered in your sauce as long as there is plenty of liquid, or they can be precooked (simmer for 10-15 minutes), drained and stirred in. Brown and green lentils take longer to cook, so pre cook before adding. Try in bolognaise, lasagne, chilli, burger patties, cottage pie and meat loaf.

Choose recipes that you can stretch, or that make a little bit go a long way, pizza, pasta, curries, frittata, fritters, burgers, stews, soups, curries and stir fry’s… All those fabulous foods can be really economical because they allow you to use as much or as little meat as you have. They incorporate starchy carbohydrates and lots of seasonal vegetables and you can vary the veg according to the seasons. A summer pizza might have fresh tomatoes, capsicum and basil leaves, a winter pizza might have roasted pumpkin, caramelised onions and mushrooms

Use last night's leftovers to start tonight’s meal. That little bowl of leftover cooked meat can be stretched in a pasta, over a pizza base or in a risotto, salad or slider.

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