Why pay more for lean ground beef?

by Karen on November 19, 2008

Tony and I don’t eat a lot of red meat. Occasionally we’ll grill a nice lean steak, but we eat more chicken than beef. It’s mostly because when we do buy ground beef, we like to buy very lean beef, usually about 90-94% lean. Have you seen the prices for lean beef? It rarely falls below $4 a pound. We’d just as soon cook with chicken, which is healthier and only $2 a pound.

This week, Tony had a craving for Shepherd’s pie. We were picking up our Thanksgiving turkey and some steaks on sale. We needed beef for the pie, but I wanted to save some money. I decided for this week that the extra 10% fat in the $2 a pound ground beef wouldn’t kill me.

I was shocked at how much extra fat cooked out in the pan. We’ve been cooking with lean beef for so long that I’ve gotten used to seeing very little fat in the pan.

We cooked all of the fat out, drained it completely, and patted it down with paper towels to remove the excess fat. And you know what? It was basically the same. Obviously, I can’t say for sure that it was just as lean as the 90%, but it sure seemed like it once it was drained well.

I know, this one seems like a no-brainer, but it’s a revelation for me. I’ll never pay $4 a pound for ground beef again. That works for me!

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{ 8 comments }

1 joanna November 19, 2008 at 7:46 am

I’ve found that rinsing the ground beef in water also gets rid of a significant amount of the fat, even after draining what you can off.

2 Michelle November 19, 2008 at 9:57 am

I boil my ground beef. Add it to a pan, cover in water and let it boil, while breaking it up til it’s no longer pink. Then you can drain all the fat that way.

3 Annie Jones November 19, 2008 at 10:03 am

I take it a step further and actually cook ground beef in water, then drain it. Some argue this isn’t good for the plumbing (all the fat going down with the cooking water), but I’ve never had a problem with it. It’s a great way to cook a large amount of ground beef to portion into freezer containers for later use.

4 Suz November 19, 2008 at 10:28 am

I was spoiled at a young age growing up on a farm and having our own meat. When it came time to have to buy my own, I had to learn how to make it stretch because of it’s cost. I’ve always drained and often patted my ground beef like you mentioned. I’ve never been able to get myself to pay the high prices on the leaner meat.

The only time I buy the leaner ground beef is when it goes on a great sale or in the clearance section and I always use the leaner meats for meatballs and meatloaf… things that you can’t drain and pat. Hope that helps.

Good post!

5 Kacie November 19, 2008 at 10:54 am

YES! I echo Joanna.

I’ve read studies that have shown the super-fatty meats can be reduced to lean by cooking, draining, and rinsing in cold water.

The rinsing is key if you’re going to freeze it, but it also significantly reduces the fat content.

You can buy the 25% fat stuff for WAY cheap and turn it into pretty durn healthy stuff. Srsly.

6 Kacie November 19, 2008 at 10:59 am

OK, you will be amazed at this link: http://healthy.hillbillyhousewife.com/groundbeef.htm

So, the fatty stuff can actually be even leaner after a good rinse! Woohoo!

7 Karen November 19, 2008 at 12:22 pm

Huh. I guess I’m WAY late to the party on this one. :)

Thanks for the tips everyone! I’ll never pay more for ground beef again!

Kacie – you’re right. I’m amazed! Thanks for the link!

8 steve February 18, 2010 at 8:08 pm

I buy the cheap ground beef cook it all in the skillet at once but drain all the excess fat off and its quite lean by then but I do add sliced onion and maybe a little ketchup. I got started doing this since I live by myself and have a package of beef sit in the fridge for a week and going bad before I can use it. I know a lot of you may be saying make patties and freeze them. It just never has a good taste when cooked like that.

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