10 Minutes of Prep: 10 Amazing Meals

This is a guest post from Catspaw, a Nerd Fitness Rebel who thinks deadlifts should be heavy, and healthy food should be delicious.

“Cooking takes too much time”

Paleo is so boring!”

New recipes can be intimidating, but that doesn’t mean that you have to live in drudgery of yet-another-night of boiled chicken and microwaved broccoli.

One of the best ways to keep food both interesting and easy is to take a basic foundational food and use it in a huge variety of dishes.  By just changing the presentation of a recipe or adding a few ingredients, you can create a whole new dish that’s new, exciting, and involves very little additional work.

Today I hope to definitively prove to you that eating Paleo is delicious, and that “I don’t have time” is a big fat lie.

The ten-minute-foundation

Beef Mix

Ground beef is one of my favorite cuts of meat to work with.

It tends to be cheap, you can find it anywhere, and makes a huge variety of amazingly delicious dishes. Here’s the basic ground beef recipe. It only has a few ingredients, and shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to throw together:

Basic Seasoned Ground Beef Recipe

  • 2 lb (900 g) ground beef (go for grassfed beef if you can afford it!)
  • 1 cup (240 ml) chopped onions…red onions, yellow onions, or scallions, all work great!
  • ¼ (60 ml) cup chopped fresh basil, cilantro or parsley – not dried!
  • 1 tsp salt (5 ml)
  • 2 tsp (10 ml) chipotle powder or chili powder (optional, but recommended)

Method:

  1. Chop your onions and herbs.
  2. Put all your ingredients together in a big bowl. Mix thoroughly with your hands — get right in there!
  3. Heat a pan on medium-high until it gets hot.  You shouldn’t need to add any oil.
  4. Beef bowl seasoningPut the meat in the pan.  Walk away for a whole 3 minutes to let it brown on the bottom: don’t touch!
  5. Come back to the stove and continue to let it cook, stirring occasionally (until all the pink is gone).

You now have a bowl of cooked ground beef.  In an airtight container, it should last a full week in your fridge.

So, now once you have that bowl of cooked ground beef, what can you do with it?

ALL SORTS OF STUFF!

Breakfast

Beef_Muffin

So now what?  Well, I’ve been known to just eat it cold with a spoon, but I’m weird like that.

What’s awesome about this method of cooking is that you can use this basic recipe to create a huge variety of deliciousness throughout the week, without much additional work.

Here are some awesome breakfast ideas:

Breakfast idea #1: Meaty omelet

Beef_Breakfast1

  1. Heat a pan over medium heat with a bit of butter or coconut oil.
  2. Whisk 2-3 eggs together and cook in the pan until firm.  Remove onto a plate.
  3. Fold the omelet around some of the cooked seasoned beef.

 Breakfast idea #2: Egg hash
Beef egg breakfast

  1. Heat a pan over medium heat and add some of the cooked seasoned beef and some leftover veggies.  I love using greens like kale for this.
  2. Once hot, break an egg or two right into the pan and cover with a lid until the eggs set to your desired firmness.  I like my eggs a little runny, so about 4 minutes is perfect for me.

Breakfast idea #3: Meaty egg muffins

  1. Grease some muffin tins with a bit of coconut oil or butter.Beef Muffin
  2. Into each muffin tin, put a bit of cooked seasoned beef, and maybe some leftover veggies.  Little pieces of broccoli, or red pepper work great here, but use your imagination!
  3. Into each muffin tin, pour a raw scrambled egg.
  4. Cook in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes until set.  These keep very well in the fridge and reheat great.

What about lunch and dinner?

Beef_Lettuce2

And don’t just think because something is called a ‘breakfast food’ that you can’t eat it whenever you want.  But let’s suppose you want some typical lunch and dinner options too, we got you covered!  Take a look!

Lettuce cups

  1. Put some of the seasoned cooked ground beef into pieces of lettuce.
  2. I love (optionally) topping these with pine nuts or slivered almonds for a bit of crunch!

Shepherd’s pie

  1. Make some mashed cauliflower, mashed butternut squash, or just cook and mash a sweet potato.
  2. Put some cooked seasoned ground beef into an oven-safe dish and top with the vegetable mash.
  3. Cook in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes until the top browns slightly and it’s heated through.

Mexican salad

  1. Put some lettuce and roasted red peppers on a plate.  Top with cooked seasoned ground beef.
  2. Add your favorite salsa and a dollop of guacamole.  You can buy some pre-made at the store or make your own.

“Spaghetti” and meatballs

  1. Instead of cooking the seasoned ground beef in the pan, roll it into little balls.
  2. Add them to a pan with your favorite tomato sauce and cook on medium until no longer pink on the inside.
  3. Make your favorite Paleo pasta.  I like zucchini noodles, but spaghetti squash is also very popular.  Top your “noodles” with the meatballs and sauce

Lettuce-wrapped burger

  1. Instead of cooking the seasoned ground beef all together in a pan, form into little burger patties.
  2. Cook on a grill or medium-high pan to your desired level of doneness.  I like a little pink in the middle of my burger.
  3. Wrap in two pieces of lettuce and top with your favourite burger toppings.  I love avocado, grilled onions, and a fried egg.  Yum!

Kebab

  1. Instead of cooking the seasoned ground beef in a pan, form little kebab shapes around wooden skewers.
  2. Cook on high on a grill pan, under the broiler of your oven, or on your BBQ.  The kebabs are done when no longer pink in the center.
  3. While you’ve got your grill out, I always recommend grilling some vegetables to go with it.

What kind of beef?

Beef Balls

I like to use 85% / 15% ground beef for most of my recipes because I find it has the right amount of leanness-to-fat for my taste buds, but your mileage may vary.

Note: 85% / 15% ground beef does not mean 15% fat and 85% protein.  It means 15% by weight is fat, but the majority of the weight in the meat is water.  85% ground beef is actually much closer to equal in dietary fat and protein.

If you don’t cook ground beef often, you may be surprised when you get a lot of fat running off.

What should you do about this?  If you’re using grass-fed ground beef, that fat contains a lot of healthy nutrients, so just leave it right in there!  It may look a little like beef soup at first, but once you refrigerate the meat, the fat will harden into little bits of delicious texture.

If you’re using conventional ground beef, you can pour some of the fat into an old jar and then throw it out (like with bacon)…but don’t obsess about trying to get it all!

Give it a try

jump try

Pick up a pound or two of ground beef at your next trip to the store and see where your imagination takes you.

This is just one example of how you can take a basic recipe, in this case seasoned ground beef, and use it to create a huge variety of really tasty foods.

Just because you’re using the same protein doesn’t mean it has to the same meal!

What else do you do with ground beef?

Do you have any other staple foods that you expand in interesting ways?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

-Catspaw

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photo source: Jump 

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  • http://profiles.google.com/mjoulwan Melissa Joulwan

    Such a great post for people who are stymied in the kitchen! Thanks for the shout out to my zucchini noodles!

  • http://twitter.com/StrongByChoice Strong By Choice™

    This is amaze balls! I’m glad to see a post shattering the myth that Paleo eating is “hard.” Being fat and lazy is hard, being healthy and eating healthy is not. 

  • http://cookeatpaleo.com/ Lisa

    Great tips for making Paleo easy! I love a lettuce wrapped burger. I will have to try your version with avocado, grilled onion and fried eggs! 

  • Bigm141414

    nom nom nom. For those who aren’t on the forums, Catspaw regularly makes us all hungry with her delicious cooking experiments. 😀 

  • http://www.jessydiamond.com/ Jessy

    I never know what to do with ground beef (and didn’t know what to eat for dinner). This is awesome.

  • Catspaw

    Everything you make is delicious, Melissa.  You’re definitely a source of inspiration for me!

  • Jenna

    Amazing article, I have a packet of mince defrosted in my fridge that you just gave me 10 ideas for!! 🙂

  • Justin Chaloupka

    Would you recommend these recipes using other ground meats like pork or poultry?

  • sara donahue

    Excellent ideas!

  • http://punchpresence.com/ Rachel with Punch Presence

    Awesome article — thanks so much for including recipes!! 

  • Catspaw

    Hey Justin — absolutely. If you’re using ground turkey, just make sure to get normal ground turkey (93% fat) and not “ground turkey breast” (99% fat) because it would be too lean.

    I also love ground lamb, pork, bison, mmmmm…

  • http://www.facebook.com/drewstein69 Andrew BigBang MacLean

    What type of lettuce do you find the best for making a cup with? I usually go for Iceburg but it’s 50/50 if the leaf will tear off properly or not and I’ve heard there’s such a thing as a lettuce pocket…

  • Laura

    Awesome article, Catspaw!  

  • Catspaw

    That picture uses butter lettuce, which can also be a bit fragile — but if I rip it, I just use it for the top piece or stuff it in my mouth (noms!) and try again.  Boston lettuce works really well for this, if you can find it.  I also sometimes just go to the farmer’s market and find a stand selling a variety of greens in search of something that looks right.  The outer leaves of iceburg should be fairly sturdy compared to their inner leaf counterparts.

  • http://www.facebook.com/drewstein69 Andrew BigBang MacLean

     I’ll keep an eye out for butter and Boston lettuce then 😛 Thanks for the reply and awesome article!

  • Paul

    Grass fed lamb is great too. Season with rosemary, maybe mint

  • http://profiles.google.com/museredux dm conner

    If you must have beef, make SURE you don’t buy pre-ground “chubs”, the long plastic rolls. They’re ground in huge vats and it’s the best way to spread contaminates.  Look instead for what’s on sale as a roast and have that ground, or ask the butcher to grind the leftovers from their trim work. You’ll know what you’re getting, what you’re making your own body from. (Remember the pink slime?) Places like Costco grind their own on the premises (ask them to be sure; things change). Be part of protecting everyone.

  • http://twitter.com/gitismatt Matthew Maynard

    man, those cavemen were so with it.  inventing fire. slaying wild beasts. using zucchini as a substitute for pasta. 

  • X58890a1

    Excellent ideas! I particularly love using my ground beef in sheperd’s pie. In addition, I would add to the list:
    1) stuffed bell peppers
    2) meatloaf
    3) chili

  • The Nerkiest

    Ahhhh! Thanks for posting recipes! The formerfatty in me loves you. http://www.nerky.blogspot.com

  • pattyloof

    Don’t throw out bacon grease! It’s wonderful for cooking with … I keep it in a jar in the fridge and use it to fry whatever needs frying 😉

  • http://www.facebook.com/lilangie9584 Angie Reyes

    Thank you so much for these ideas! A few of these will help me out this week. 

  • TitleBoxingClubBrandon

    That seasoned burger is a great idea. What’s nice about that is you spend a few minutes cooking it and then you have it as an ingredient for the rest of the week. I’m going to try a few of these out and see what I like. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004681509388 Donna Keeley

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. I do like to cook but I don’t always have a lot of time. These recipes are fantastic. 😀

  • Carola

     bueno puedo contar mi receta, con carne de res o pavo molida, harina de almendras, huevos, cilantro, trozos de pimentón, mezclar todo y formar hamburguesas y freír en aceite de coco.- deliciosas!

  • http://twitter.com/rcarmstrong rafael armstrong

    Thanks for the ideas! I always find myself strapped for time getting dinner ready, and, even though I don’t eat Paleo, and the rest of my family doesn’t eat beef (I know, at this point you’re probably wondering “why are you even reading NF?”), I can apply some of these same concepts to ground turkey/chicken/pork.

    Thanks again, and keep up the awesome writing!

  • Artinum

    We don’t get ground beef in the UK. It’s known here as minced beef, or sometimes just mincemeat or mince. Some nice ideas here though – a cottage pie sounds like a meal I could even get my partner to eat!

  • http://twitter.com/bwownbwead Vincent McAulay

    This is a fantastic article! it appeared in my inbox at exactly the right time, thank you!.

  • Marjolein London

    Love these ideas! We like making a minced meat egg bake for our lunch in a big oven dish and include any veggies that need to be eaten – sort of a super size version of the egg muffins

  • http://twitter.com/hoffman_amanda Amanda Hoffman

    Thanks for the article! This gives me new ideas for breakfast! 

  • http://twitter.com/NEKLocalvore Annika

    I often use ground beef to make coconut curry. So easy and yummy! Here’s my recipe: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/forum/thread2810.html

  • Joey

    A tip: When selecting ground beef on a budget, try to shy away from the tubes of prepackaged ground beef. These packages tend to include meat that is of lower quality and is older than the meat in the little styrofoam trays that have been ground on site at the grocery butcher. The price is usually no different, or if so it is negligible, but the quality is quite different.

    Obviously things like, grass fed etc. etc. but there are levels of quality even amongst the economical options.

  • mars

    these are awesome ideas! we buy grass-fed ground beef in bulk and i’m always looking for more paleo ideas to use it. we also love stuffing peppers with ground beef. or crunchy romaine lettuce leaves. i personally love leftover ground beef mixed into my salads for lunch (or breakfast) and YAY for fried eggs on burgers!!

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/5UBVTRNWLULVAJR62YZULYJ65I leslie g

    Thank you for this post! I love how easily accessible the ingredients are. Most recipes I see on the internet have hard to find ingredients >.< 

  • mannyhealthguy

    This is timely for us as we have just finished a 3 day detox diet and are totally into eating less crap… Good ideas mate!

  • http://grokgrub.wordpress.com/ Rachel

    Eating cooked ground beef with a spoon is weird? 😉

  • Piercewise

    Stuffed peppers! Throw 1/2 lb of that seasoned beef into a hollowed out pepper with a little quinoa, and you’ve got yourself a full meal! 

    I also recommend experimenting with stirfry recipes until you find one you like. At this point I just pick a meat, cook it in my favorite spices, add some onions and a couple veggies (carrots, peppers, broccoli, etc) and the meal is done!

  • JoAnn Lennon

    Really awesome post. with all details.

    http://pureedgenutrition.com

  • HeathBar

    These recipes are so easy and delicious, I make a lot of these on a daily basis.  They should be in everyone’s cook book, paleo or not!

  • Alisha john

    OH…WAO…SUPERB…..LOOKS SO DELICIOUS

  • http://www.annieandre.com/ Annie Andre

    Loved the bunless burger. I cook a lot of asian food and I use ground beef all the time for various dishes. I also use ground chicken in place of ground beef too… 

  • http://www.steveisgettingfit.com/ Steve

    This is awesome!  I’m considering giving a paleo a try, and it’s nice to see that there are a lot more options than I thought there were.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ashley-Jensen/100000320046212 Ashley Jensen

    This sounds so good! I am definitely going to try it. What do you think about greens superfoods? I am not a huge fan of veggies unfortunately, so I’ve been making smoothies and stuff w/ Amazing Grass (https://www.facebook.com/greensuperfood) and I am wondering if that’s enough if I eat less veggies? I did their 2 week challenge and it has some GREAT veggie recipes, but most of the time I don’t have enough. 

  • http://twitter.com/False_Aesop Patrick Dunning

    I decided to give this recipe a whirl, making it was as simple as could be.  I’ve only used it to make one breakfast so far, went with the omelette, tossed some spinach in with the seasoned beef.  http://tinyurl.com/aub3lq2  

    Very good, though next time I’m going to either add more chili powder, some red pepper corn… or maybe chop up some fresh chilis into the meat.  Still like it a lot, looking forward to cooking with the rest of what I have made up.

  • mel

    i live up north and get tons of moose burger from my hunting buds. my go-to are:
    – moose balls = meatballs with shredded yam, egg, bacon, teeny bit of maple syrup…i bring 3 to work for breaki. SO good!
    – meatza! = ground meat in skillet, top with mushroom, veg, tomato if you want…i grate parmesan on top cause it’s not the same without it! broil, then cut into wedges! mmmm
    – moose chili – basically kitchen sink chili with homemade canned tomatoes from the summer!

  • Sugatastic

    Love! 🙂 Ground beef is one of my favorites to work with too.  Thanks for sharing!

  • http://ATRUTHABOUTABSREVIEW.COM/ Chris

    Yep, ground beef is one of the most versatile meat “cuts” we have in our house too.  We use it all the time!

  • http://twitter.com/TheFatDad The Fat Dad

    I’m a fan of the 85/15 ground beef, too. Anything lower than that gets too greasy for my tastes and requires draining, which can be hard to accurately monitor if you’re tracking your calories. 93/7 and leaner is easy to make too dry. 85/15 is the perfect balance.

  • Cody Higdem

    You can do this with pretty lean turkey but you will for sure have to use more herbs. I’ve noticed that if you use some herbs at the end (sprinkling on for example) it really brings the flavor to your tongue. If you use lean turkey like I do, add a splash of water or more oil.

    @facebook-100000320046212:disqus Green powders should be accompanied by vegetables.They are great in my opinion for people who don’t like the taste or aren’t getting enough but you still need to eat some veggies. Hope the disappointment will fade. (Disclaimer: I know about super greens and powders because I’m working with an awesome group of scientists and nutritionists to build an all organic powder supplement. I’ve used or tasted pretty much everything that I felt was safe to include Amazing Grass)

  • Eric Allen

    I second (or third) the stuffed peppers recipe. The way my wife taught me to do it is to bake each pepper in its own Corningware cup. This has some distinct advantages. You can bake them all at the same time on a pan, then when they are done, pull out the pan, and after a few minutes of cooling you can pop the ones you aren’t eating in the fridge with lids on. Later on they can be taken out and chucked right in the microwave, or put into the lunchbox, taken to work and chucked in the microwave there. It also means you don’t have to worry about getting the bottoms of the peppers flat, since they’ll be held up in the cups anyway. And, if you aren’t too beholden to tradition, if you have leftover meat mix after stuffing the peppers, you can fill in any gaps around the pepper inside the cup for more meaty mass. WIN. We use these http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/product.asp?sku=12151799&utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&gclid=CLPak-Kw-rUCFQs4nAodZ1sACQ