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5 affordable beef alternatives you should try

Photography by Jeff Coulson Author: Credits: Photography by Jeff Coulson

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5 affordable beef alternatives you should try

Beef lovers, take note: The price of your beloved burgers and steaks is on the rise in Canada. Earlier this month, CBC reported that the price of ground beef has gone up 41 percent over the past three years, rising from an average cost of $4.02 per pound in April 2012 to $5.70 per pound in April 2015.

Experts predict the trend will continue through this year, which means you can expect to pay extra at the supermarket for everything from ground beef to steaks to roasts. If paying more isn’t in your budget, don’t worry—there are plenty of tasty, affordable beef alternatives out there! Here are five of our favourites.

1. Mushrooms
Mushrooms have a meaty texture and umami-rich flavour. Try chopped or ground cremini mushrooms in place of ground beef in burger patties, or grill whole portobello caps as an easy substitute to burgers.

Arugula Mushroom Pizza
A creamy mushroom sauce and a peppery arugula topping make this meatless pizza both hearty and fresh. Use store-bought pizza crust for the quickest prep.


Photography by Ryan Szulc

Grilled Portobello and Cheese Burgers

Provolone cheese becomes wonderfully creamy and gooey when melted—excellent for turning meaty portobello caps into cheesy burgers.


Photography by Edward Pond

2. Tofu

Tofu is a kitchen chameleon; it has a mild taste that easily takes on whichever flavour you want. Lather it in your favourite barbecue sauce for fresh-off-the-grill flavour or cook it in a sweet-and-sour sauce as a meatless alternative to stir-fry beef. When substituting for beef, be sure to use extra-firm tofu, which has a denser, meatier texture than regular tofu.

Crispy Tofu Stir-Fry With Udon Noodles

Sriracha, fresh ginger and hoisin sauce are key to this stir-fry’s spicy umami-rich flavour. Udon noodles, which are thicker and chewier than other varieties, add toothsome texture.


Photography by Jeff Coulson

Cilantro-Jalapeño Grilled Tofu Salad
Tofu soaks up all of the spicy-sweet flavours of the dressing in this lighter alternative to steak salad.


Photography by Jeff Coulson

3. Lentils
Lentils are a good source of protein and have a toothsome yet tender texture that makes them a great substitute to ground beef in pasta sauces, patties and tacos. Opt for brown lentils when you want a chunkier texture and red lentils when you want a smoother texture.

Smoky Lentil Patties With Cucumber Slaw
Red lentils are mild in flavour and become super-tender when cooked, making them a great base for these paprika-spiced patties.


Photography by Jeff Coulson

Beef and Lentil Burger With Cilantro Mayo
Inexpensive lentils balance out the cost of beef in these slightly spicy burgers. Adding a couple of fresh ingredients to store-bought mayo boosts the flavour with minimal effort.



Photography by Jeff Coulson

4. Grains

Grains might seem like an unusual substitute for beef, but they’re perfect for adding meat-like texture to vegetarian dishes. Cooked whole grains such as bulgur and quinoa can be added to stir-fries or stuffed into cored red peppers or zucchini in place of ground beef.

Arugula and Bulgur–Stuffed Tomatoes
Traditionally used in Middle Eastern tabbouleh salad, bulgur is quick-cooking and nutty in flavour. Here, it makes a savoury filling for summer-sweet tomatoes in a twist on stuffed peppers.


Photography by Edward Pond

Easy Meatless Polpette in Tomato Sauce
This meatless take on Italian meatballs is made by mixing bread crumbs with Parmesan, eggs, milk and parsley. Skeptical? Don’t be. The cheese and eggs add tons of flavour, while bread crumbs keep the meatballs juicy.


Photography by Joe Kim

5. Ground chicken, turkey and pork

The prices of chicken, turkey and pork aren’t rising quite as rapidly as beef, so you’ll save a bit of money at the supermarket by switching up your regular pack of ground beef for one of these tasty options. Try replacing half of the beef in your burgers with pork, or opt for ground turkey in your lasagna.

Black Bean, Ground Pork and Green Bean Stir-Fry
Black bean sauce adds Asian-style flavour to this easy-prep stir-fry. Pork is actually better suited to this stir-fry than beef, as its mild flavour doesn’t compete with the bold taste of the sauce.


Photography by Jodi Pudge

30-Minute Turkey Chili
Ground turkey is an excellent fit for this mildly seasoned chili. Packed with veggies, chickpeas, spinach and just a touch of warming spices, it definitely deserves a spot in your weeknight dinner rotation.

Photography by Jeff Coulson

Looking for more afforable meals?  Click here for five quick and easy vegetarian mains.

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5 affordable beef alternatives you should try

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