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Recipe Stash Busting: Almost-Meatless Sloppy Joes

I’m always on the hunt for recipes that stretch a pound of meat to feed 6 (or more) people. I believe meat has a place in my family’s diet. And I believe in buying the best quality meat I possibly can. And I know what that kind of meat costs per pound. Yikes. Feed a family of 6 on that kind of food three times a day and “Whole Paycheck” becomes a misnomer. It’s more like “Whole Salary”.

For this reason, recipes like this one often end up in my stash. But they don’t always turn out as tasty as this one.


Typically the meat-stretching recipes turn out tasting like, well, like the cook was being cheap, trying to stretch a pound of ground whatever. Like she removed something fatty and flavorful and just inserted something that would be close to the same texture, with a neutral flavor, and hoped that no one would notice (and, by the way, someone always notices).

Even though you might look at this recipe and think that that’s exactly what’s going on here, you’ll be relieved to know that it’s not. The ratios and ingredients here are completely intentional and harmonious. It does not taste like anything is missing. My kiddos noticed the beans (“Hey, there’s beans in here!”) but they did not mind them (“Ha! That’s funny!”).

We served it up with roasted sweet potato fries and kale chips. Everyone licked their plates and asked for seconds. We think it’s going to be even tastier on the patio in July with a glass of lemonade (I’ll let the slow cooker do the cooking for me then). Flavorful, filling, and budget-friendly? This one’s a keeper.

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Almost Meatless Sloppy Joes

adapted slightly to personal preference

Source: Cooking Light May 2010

Course: Main (Beef)



  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil or other preferred fat
  • 12 cup finely chopped white onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 14 teaspoon salt
  • 14 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 ounces ground sirloin
  • 12 cup grated carrot
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 12 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 14 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (15.5-ounce) can low-sodium red beans, rinsed, drained and divided
  • 4 (2-ounce) whole-wheat sandwich rolls split and toasted


  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, salt, black pepper, and beef to pan; cook 5 minutes or until meat is browned and vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally to crumble beef.
  2. Add carrot, chili powder, honey, oregano, and red pepper; cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in tomatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; cook 10 minutes or until thickened and carrot is tender, stirring occasionally.
  3. Partially mash 1 cup beans with a fork or potato masher. Add mashed beans and remaining whole beans to pan; cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated. Serve on sandwich rolls.

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