“Cheap dishes to make with ground beef” sounds like not only didn’t the beef cost much, but also the dish itself isn’t going to have much beyond an average taste. It might be preferable to call this – Sage Meatloaf – an inexpensive dish.
With eight ingredients, plus salt and pepper – most of which are already in the typical home – ground beef might turn out to be the only expenditure required. Plus maybe an onion, if one can’t be found in the cupboard at the moment.
Cheap, or inexpensive, might also imply that there won’t be an appealing taste or texture to the dish. The use of too many ingredients and too many additives, and in improper proportions, is more likely to detract from the success of this entree, so keep in mind that less is more.
Consider the contents
Facing the many choices in packaging of ground beef may seem intimidating. There is 80% lean ground beef, 90% lean, and 95% lean. These days, for health’s sake, the leaner the beef (or any other food, for that matter), the better. Lean beef is definitely not cheap.
Take heart, because in this dish a certain amount of fat is needed for the proper taste, texture and moistness. Stick with the cheaper 80% lean ground beef. Once it’s out of the oven, the meatloaf can be lifted out of its pool of pan drippings and placed on a stack of two or three paper plates to drain away more of the greasy substance.
There’s no end to bread choices. Everything from inexpensive, all-American white breads to the more costly 100% whole grain breads will do the job of helping to even the balance of wet and dry ingredients.
Keep the seasonings simple. Traditionally meatloaf has ketchup, salt and pepper. This recipe also features Worcestershire sauce and dried sage. Worcestershire sauce complements beef nicely. Sage is typically added to chicken and turkey dishes, yet is surprisingly good in meatloaf.
What would a meatloaf be without onions? Most people like them. Some pick out the onion chunks as they eat. By placing these inexpensive little veggies beneath the meatloaf, where they can be eaten or not, everyone is happy.
Sage Meatloaf (Serves 3-4)
1 pound (or a bit less; not more) 80% lean ground beef
1 slice bread, cut in 1/4-1/3 inch cubes
3 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons fat-free milk
1 heaping teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 small, medium or large onion (your choice), thinly sliced and then separated into rings
1. Preheat oven to 350-degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Spray loaf pan with extra virgin olive oil spray. Spread onion rings evenly on bottom of prepared pan.
3. Remove ground beef from refrigerator and let sit on counter while preparing rest of ingredients.
4. In large mixing bowl, combine egg, ketchup, milk, sage, Worcestershire, salt and pepper. Add bread cubes and mix thoroughly.
5. Add ground beef to bread mixture. With clean hands, mix thoroughly but lightly.
6. Place mixture in loaf pan and gently pat to slightly flatten top. If using a larger pan, such as a 5×9-inch pan, fit the mixture into one end, only filling about 2/3 of the pan; then use a turner to slide it to the middle.
7. Bake 35-45 minutes. Remove from pan and place on 2-3 stacked paper plates for at least ten minutes. Any onions remaining in pan can be placed on top or served separately.
What makes this meatloaf different from others is the subtle sage taste–always there, but never overwhelming. While Sage Meatloaf is definitely a cheap dish to make with ground beef, it is also easy to prepare, reasonably healthy and beautifully moist.