Okay guys, I’ve had a personal request to do a budget bites series. I know that there are many of us (myself included) that want to make good choices when it comes to what we cook and eat but do not want to break the bank at the same time! So introducing budget bites…a series where each post will highlight an ingredient, recipe, cuisine that can be used in multiple different ways without the need for extra expense.

Edition one is all about MINCE. It’s versatile. There are many different forms. It is loved by old and young. Easy to cook. Tasty. Cheaper than other cuts…..

However, rather than have spaghetti bolognese week in week out…why don’t we explore some other easy and healthy ways to use mince.

I find that by cooking up a batch of simple mince you can then adapt it to suit different cuisines.

Follow this recipe to cook simple mince (adapted from Eat for Health):

  • Drizzle olive oil.
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped.
  • 500g beef mince.
  • 2 carrots, diced.
  • 2 celery sticks, diced.
  • 1 tsp minced garlic or 1 garlic clove, crushed.
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste (watch for added salt).
  • 1 tbsp worcestershire sauce.
  • A splash of water or stock (again watch for added salt) to desired consistency.

Heat a pan, adding the olive oil (to coat) and the onion. Once the onion has browned, add the garlic, carrots and the celery and fry until fragrant and soft. Add the mince and brown. Stir gently with a wooden spoon, breaking up any clumps of meat. Add tomato paste and worcestershire sauce, continue to stir. Add water/stock until desired consistency.  Bring to the boil, reduce heat to low, cover and cook until cooked through (approx. 20 minutes).

This makes approx. 6 serves.


Indian curry:

This simple mince can be made to mimic a curry in a few easy steps. To each serve of mince, add curry paste to taste, a handful of your favourite legume (lentil, chickpea, white bean – if from a tin, rinse first), a handful of frozen green beans or peas and a generous handful of greens of your choice (spinach, silverbeet, kale). Serve with rice of your choice and whatever condiments you like. A dash of natural yoghurt, a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkle of fresh coriander goes a long way!

Greek stuffed vegetables:

This simple mince can be made into simple stuffed capsicums, eggplant or zucchinis….or whatever vegetable you have that can be stuffed….in a few easy steps. Mix one serve of simple mince with about the same amount of cooked brown rice or quinoa. Add in some sliced olives for taste. You can also add in some corn, peas etc..if you want to boost the veggie intake. For a capsicum, cut off the head of capsicum and scoop out the white seeds and membrane. Stuff the vegetable with your mince and rice mix, add some fetta/cheese of choice or herbs (optional) and bake in a moderately heated oven for approx. 45 minutes or until the capsicum is soft. The same can be done for zucchini – cut each zucchini in half lengthways, scoop out the seeds, fill with the mix and bake until soft. As well as eggplant (choose smaller eggplants) – cut each eggplant in half lengthways, bake first until softish, using a spoon scoop out the flesh of the eggplant leaving about a 1-2cm border, fill with the mix and bake until warm throughout. If you have a lot of leftover eggplant flesh, you can use it to make baba ganoush (one of my most favourite dips!) – here is a simple recipe. You can also make this a bolognese themed stuffed vegetable by subbing the rice for some diced tomatoes and italian herbs.

Mexican tacos or burritos:

This simple mince can also be made into a Mexican fiesta in a few easy steps. Mix one serve of simple mince with a handful of kidney beans (rinse first if from a tin). Add garlic powder, chilli powder, cumin, paprika and whatever else floats your boat to taste. These are all optional, obviously the more you add the more Mexican it will become. Cook on the stovetop together to allow the flavours to blend, adding more stock/water if need be. Serve in taco shells or burritos with tomato, lettuce, corn, cheese, avocado, rice, beans, sour cream…however you like it really.

British pie:

Peel and boil one potato and half a sweet potato. Alternatively, you can choose all potato or all sweet potato or even cauliflower! Once soft, mash with some butter and milk of choice. Season to taste. Add one serve of simple mince to a dish and top with the potato mixture. You can add some herbs, spices or extra veggies if to your mince first if you want to give it a boost. Add a sprinkle of parmesan, salt and pepper to the top of the pie and bake until golden and warm throughout.

Italian pasta bake:

This simple mince can also be made into a pasta bake in a few easy steps. Boil up some pasta (wholemeal, white, spelt…whatever you like) for half the recommended time on the packet. Add a tin of diced tomatoes to your simple mince and mix well. Season with salt, pepper and herbs. Drain the pasta and add to the sauce, mixing thoroughly. Poor into a casserole dish, sprinkle with some grated parmesan, salt/pepper and herbs and bake until cooked and warm throughout – the top should be nice and crispy. Serve with a side of salad and/or vegetables.

Australian toast topper: 

Heat a serve of simple mince. Add ins can include a generous handful of greens of you choice, 1/2 cup frozen peas/corn/beans or herbs/spices. Serve on top of toast with a fried egg and a sprinkle of fresh herbs and parmesan.

Here you have simple mince, 6 different cuisines and 6 different ways!