14 Ways To Stretch Ground Beef With Beans for 5-Star, Budget-Friendly Meals

The idea's simple: Replace half the ground beef in a recipe with beans. Yes, beans are a genius dinner move. They're super healthy, positively loaded with fiber and nutrients. They're a terrific source of protein, which means they make a smart substitute for meat if you're trying to cut back a bit. They're also cheap. And if you buy canned beans, they're a quick and easy option. Adding beans is also a particularly good way to go when you're feeding serious meat-and-potatoes people who can't quite condone meatless meals; it's the quiet approach. Bottom Line: The Great Bean Scheme is easy, satisfying, and a healthier way to go.

Mexican Quesadilla Casserole
Photo: Allrecipes Magazine
01 of 15

It's Chili by George!!

It's Chili by George
Photo by CandiceSteele.

Of course, you probably already know some recipes that are down with this idea. Take chili, for example. Chili mixes beef and beans with delicious results. "I cut the beef in half," says BUNNYGIRL67," and added black beans. "My friends, who eat a lot of chili, said, 'This is the best chili we've ever had.'"

02 of 15

Fabulous Wet Burritos

Fabulous Wet Burritos

Or consider the beef-and-bean burrito — a tasty combo that's been getting it done since the chuckwagon days: "The sauce was great," says Barbara. "The bean filling had a wonderful flavor. I put it all together and baked it in the oven until hot."

03 of 15

Beef and Bean Chimichangas

Beef and Bean Chimichangas
Beef and Bean Chimichangas

And let's not forget the beef-and-bean burrito's first cousin, the beef-and-bean chimichanga. "I'm a vegetarian," says Stacy." So I do not make these with beef, I just add extra beans. These have been a huge hit with my family."

04 of 15

Taco Salad III

Taco Salad III
vicki graham

You may also have seen beans mingling with beef in taco salads. "Loved this taco salad," says Kari Anne. "I used black beans along with the pinto beans."

05 of 15

Mexican Quesadilla Casserole

Mexican Quesadilla Casserole
Allrecipes Magazine

When the quesadilla and beefy casserole collide, the result is Tex-Mex comfort food at its best. This recipe combines ground beef with pantry favorites like black beans, whole kernel sweet corn, tomato sauce, chopped green chiles, flour tortillas, and RO*TEL.

06 of 15

One-Skillet Hearty Chili and Cornbread

One Skillet Hearty Chili and Cornbread

Kidney beans and black beans extend a pound of seasoned ground beef in this comforting one-skillet meal. While the chili warms up in the skillet, whisk up the simple cornmeal topping, drop dollops of cornbread batter over the top of the chili, and slide the skillet in the oven for about 20 minutes. Dinner's ready in about 45 minutes. SunnyDaysNora says, "It's the perfect quick and easy comfort food on a cool evening! Start on the stovetop and finish in the oven."

07 of 15

Taco Bake II

Taco Bake II

"My family loved it! The only change I made was to add onion. My husband said, 'Save this one,'" according to reviewer Virginia Burtle

08 of 15

Pasta e Fagioli a la Chez Ivano

Pasta e Fagioli a la Chez Ivano

And then there's the Italian way of doing beef-and-bean business. "Absolutely delicious," says GINABEAR1. "I used fresh minced garlic and used more ditalini and the beans I used were cannelini. We loved it!"

09 of 15

Taco Mix with Black Beans

Taco Mix with Black Beans
Ann Cassidy

Beans help stretch taco filling for days! Rock_lobster waxes poetic: "Taco Mix w/ Black Beans Haiku: 'Gave us leftovers, by stretching one pound of meat. Thought it was quite good.'"

10 of 15

Black Bean Chili

Black Bean Chili
Ann Marie Natal

With this recipe, two cans of black beans extend a pound of ground beef, along with tomato sauce, salsa, and chili seasoning mix. It's ready in about 30 minutes. "A great quick recipe for a rainy night," says Lynne.

11 of 15

Super Nachos

closeup of a plate of nachos with ground beef, tomatoes, onion, and guacamole
Matt D

And don't forget nachos! "Delicious," says Sheila. "I added the beans to the meat mixture before spreading." The recipe submitter Melanie says, "This makes a huge meal-sized tray of nachos with lots of good stuff! You can adjust ingredient quantities to suit your preference."

12 of 15

Calico Bean Casserole

Calico Bean Casserole
Photo by Melissa Goff.

Three beans get it done here! Kidney beans, baked beans, and butter beans mix it up with ground beef, bacon, and onions. "It's thick, hearty, and tasty too!" says Dee Dee. "This can also be done in a slow cooker."

13 of 15

Tex-Mex Pantry Casserole

Tex-Mex Pantry Casserole
Tex-Mex Pantry Casserole | Photo by thedailygourmet.

A half pound of ground beef stretches for miles with the addition of Tex-Mex pantry staples like taco seasoning, black beans, corn, Spanish rice mix, salsa, and broth. Top with shredded sharp Cheddar cheese and bake for about 20 minutes. And garnish with sour cream and sliced avocado. Dinner's ready in about 45 minutes.

14 of 15

Beefed-Up Baked Beans and Bacon

Beefed-Up Baked Beans and Bacon
Beefed-Up Baked Beans and Bacon | Photo by lutzflcat.

Sweet and smoky baked beans achieve main dish status with crumbled bacon, ground beef, butter beans, pork and beans, and red kidney beans. "Beefed-up baked beans. Sprinkle with shredded cheese and complete the meal with a side salad and cornbread," says Angela.

15 of 15

More Ways to Stretch Ground Beef

Sloppy Joes II
Photo by Dianne.

Try cutting half (or more!) of the ground beef from these top contenders and add some beans. Canned beans are a great choice; just rinse them thoroughly and add at the end of cooking time.

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