"I have used lots of different mincemeat recipes, and created my own, using the most delicious and inexpensive combinations (but really, this recipe is very traditional, nevertheless). You may devise whatever combinations are convenient and inexpensive for you. Throw in whatever's in season, also leftovers you've got (cranberry sauce from Thanksgiving, oatmeal from breakfast, old bread, etc.) Mincemeat will take anything, it seems, and still taste just exactly the same -- that is, exquisite! So for Heaven's sake make whatever changes are thrifty for you, but you may keep the quantities about the same."
Place the ground beef into a skillet over medium heat, and cook and stir until the beef is well browned, about 10 minutes, breaking it up into small crumbles as it cooks. Drain excess fat.
In a large cast-iron or other heavy skillet over medium heat, mix the cooked beef, suet, apples, brown sugar, brandy, raisins, walnuts, dried mixed fruit, mixed fruit peel, lemon juice, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves. Stir the mincemeat until thoroughly combined and the sugar has dissolved, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until the flavors have blended and the mincemeat filling is thickened, about 1 hour. Stir occasionally.
Note on suet: I have found that it works very well to simply take the juices from when you cooked the meat, and put it into a jar 'til it solidifies; use only the white fat on the top and not the grease below. Also just using butter works very well. Surely, though, suet is the best -- I think you can get it for free at grocery stores.
If you decide to use white sugar instead, put in a spoonful of molasses or sorghum.
Surely if you don't want to use so much brandy, you may use half brandy and half cider, or some other fruit juice (or even water, really). You could also use only juice, of course, but it's especially nice with brandy or rum.
Aluminum foil helps keep food moist, ensures it cooks evenly, keeps leftovers fresh, and makes clean-up easy.
Per Serving: 569 calories;23.6 g fat;
59.8 g carbohydrates;
11.8 g protein;
43 mg cholesterol;
334 mg sodium.