These meatballs are everything you need them to be. They stay together, but are moist. They are flavorful and delicious straight off the pan, or added to a wide variety of dishes (like pasta dishes, served over mashed potatoes, or made into a meatball sub. You name it, these work for it).
I love baking meatballs as I find it a reliable, worry-free method to cook them. In this recipe, it’s breadcrumb-free, so you don’t even have to drag out the food processor, but simply mix, shape, and bake!
Oh, and did I mention they are grain -, dairy- and egg-free and that they are super-frugal to make? Meatballs are one of those humble foods that should be getting more attention, but often don’t. I love that they are a fun way to get my girls to enjoy their protein – they seem to especially enjoy eating them plain or dipping them into organic fruit sweetened jam.
They would fit well into a daydream that I have. In it, I step up to a counter and say, “Yes, I’d like to order off your Healthy $1 menu. I’d like two grassfed, grain-free meatballs plates, and a side of organic mashed potatoes and carrot salad.” I receive the gratifying answer, “Your order will be right out, ma’am.”
And then I wake up.
And then I decide to make my own dollar menu at home.
Because you know what? Homemade, healthy food doesn’t have to be expensive. Not to pick on McDonalds, but because it IS one of the most known and biggest fast food restaurants out there, have you ever thought about how expensive fast food can be? The average cost for a big mac (as it varies across states) is $4.56. Add to that fries and a soda pop, and you have, in my opinion, a not-very-frugal meal.
While on the one hand I acknowledge that eating well can be expensive, and sometimes eating an ideal diet is out of reach. On the other hand, often, eating well is much more frugal than you think, and that is why I, along with my contributing writers, are reviving The Healthy $1 Menu series! Some of us use all organic, some use ingredients from the farmers market, and some use ingredients from the local supermarket, so you will see a variety of “purity” standards. But what is consistent is using “real food”, and the dishes being about $1 a serving.
Some of the dishes will be main dishes, some, like the following recipe, can be a “side order” side dish, or a “add to meal” item. The point of the series is not simply to offer frugal and practical recipes (though I sure hope it does!), but to help us all think about our budget in a new way. When seeing how much our dollar can buy when cooking at home, it can be really encouraging!
Take these meatballs. Now, I am not saying that one serving is all you need for a meal, just like buying a $1 taco out may not be your whole meal. But really, isn’t it a great deal to be able to get a side order of meatballs made with superior ingredients for this price? See, eating well isn’t always terribly expensive. You can serve these over frugal dishes, like mashed potatoes, or on butter toast, or add to marinara pasta, or eat plain, like we like them. Plus, meatballs freeze really well, so you can make up several batches, and have them on hand!
Because even my costs for this dish vary, depending on where I buy the meat, if it was on sale, or whether I was buying it as part of the meat co-op, I decided to use both the lower price and the higher to give you a sliding scale. Other ingredients are priced from my affiliate, Vitacost.com
- $3.25 to $6 for a pound of grassfed beef
- $.25 for herbs and salt (priced according to buying in bulk)
- $.19 for coconut flour
- Liquid -$.25 to .0
Total for meatballs: $3.94 to $6.94
With 30 mini meatballs, 6 per serving, it will cost you between .78 per serving to $1.38 per serving. If you are feeling really extravagant, serving with a small spoonful of raspberry jam costs about $.20-.40 per serving, when buying store-bought, sugar-free, organic.
Not too shabby for just one dollar, is it!
Ground beef is actually a great food item to use for a frugal main dish, by the way. Here are a couple other recipes that use it: Quinoa Mexican Bowl, Sloppy Joes in a Bowl, Ground Beef and Cabbage, Kelly’s Easy Shepherd Pie, Diane’s Sloppy Joes and Beef Chili
- 1 pound grassfed beef
- 2 tablespoons coconut flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons Italian seasoning or ½ teaspoon each dried thyme, basil, and oregano
- 3 tablespoons dairy-free milk of choice, or water
- ¾ teaspoon unrefined salt
- Preheat oven to 400F degrees
- In a medium sized bowl, dump all of the above ingredients, and mix them thoroughly with your hands.
- Using a tablespoon, melon scoop, or hands scoop out small balls of the mixture and quickly roll into small balls. I make about 30 mini meatballs, or 18 medium with this amount.
- Line up on a parchment lined sheet pan, and cook for about 12-15 minutes (for mini meatballs) or until cooked through. Serve right away.
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