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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For comparison sake, we were just at IKEA the other day and noticed they serve a cup of 5 of their Swedish meatballs for $1.00. And that wasn’t even using high quality beef. So, I would say this is definitely a good value. I love how quickly these meatballs come together, and that it only used 1 bowl. I’m excited for what’s next in the $1.00 series. How do you always seem to know just what we women need??? ~Sharon
Thanks for sharing that comparison! I couldn’t remember what IKEA charged. 🙂 So glad you are excited about this series! I am too.
Hmmm what could I use instead of coconut flour, little one is allergic. Rolled Oats? Oat flour?
I’ve used a 1/2 cup of finely ground almond flour with great success too. 🙂
I used a GF flour blend (rice, potato, tapioca, pea) and they turned out great!
I use milled flax seed instead of coconut flour but now Im excited to try the coconut flour! Ive got a bag sitting in my pantry Ive been itching to use
Hey Kimi! I tried these tonight and was quite pleased with how simple they were to throw together. And of course they were quite delicious. 🙂
YAh! So glad they worked for you!
Do these freeze and thaw without crumbling? I would love to make a few batches and stick them in the freezer for later meals.
That’s a good question. I still haven’t tried freezing them as we just have been eating all of them when I make them. But they do hold together well after they are baked, so I hope so!
Can’t what to try as we have gone GF and didn’t now what to replace breadcrumbs with. Also its not the same without Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Lactose free but not casein free.
We will be making these and stuffed mushrooms today for some protein-packed finger foods. I also wanted to thank you for all of the work you do to make such a great resource – I always know where to look when I’m in need of inspiration! We also appreciate that your frugal recipes are actually frugal without sacrificing health and quality.
Have a great day!
Thanks so much for the sweet comment, Heather! Hope that these meatballs worked well for you. We love them. 🙂
Thanks again for this recipe! These are now a family favorite in a family where finding one recipe that the whole family can/will eat is a major accomplishment (I should probably have a Ph.D. in Food Science by now!).
We’ve eaten them several ways:
-substituted ground turkey when out of grass-fed beef
-used 1 T. less coconut flour with no problem
-with basic veggies (sweet potatoes, broccoli and salad)
-Italian style with marinara sauce, gf/spaghetti squash pasta
-Asian with stir fry veggies and optional rice or cauliflower rice
-soup with homemade chicken stock and veggies made in the slow cooker
I’m excited to try these – right now! Thanks so much for the recipe! I look forward to returning to your blog a little later, AFTER dinner. 🙂
We made these last night and I have to say that they are by far the tastiest meatballs I have ever made, and the texture was perfect! I thought the coconut flour might make them really dry (that is true for baked goods, I believe) but they were fabulous. We had them with our favorite marinara sauce. THANK YOU for this great recipe, a keeper for sure!
I’m very very excited about this recipe. My 11 month old is allergic/intolerant to egg and wheat and as I’m breastfeeding him I have to steer clear of these too. I’ve been searching for a meatball recipe that my whole family can enjoy including my husband and equally ravenous 3 year old. I’m going to try freezing them too.
Wonderful base recipe, however, my Italian heritage was screaming for cheese and garlic. Found a wonderful cheese substitute- dairy and Gluten free- in our hometown shop and save. Added half cup of the Romano substitute, along w/ two cloves of minced garlic, and a medium diced onion- Viola- a meatball that my Nona would be proud to call her own.
Wonderful base recipe, however, my Italian heritage was screaming CHEESE and GARLIC. Found a wonderful cheese substitute- Dairy and Gluten free- in our local Shop and Save. Added half cup of the Romano version, along w/ 2 cloves of minced garlic, a medium diced onion, and a generous sprinkling of garlic powder and black pepper- VIOLA a meatball that my Nona would be proud to call her own! Making several hundred for my Dairy/Gluten intolerant nieces Graduation party over the holiday weekend.
We just made a double batch of these and froze them to pull out for quick weekday meals (we homeschool). Thanks for the easy and nutritious recipe!
New reader here! I love this idea and your blog. I am not GF and I was wondering if adding breadcrumbs (either from cheap store-bought or homemade bread) would make the recipe even cheaper since it stretches out the meat.
Hey There! Just take out the coconut flour, and add…I’m guessing between 1/2 -3/4 cup of breadcrumbs. 🙂 If you experiment with it, let us know how it worked for you!
Just made meatballs, except I used turkey thigh mince, 2T bacon jam, garlic powder – didn’t see the need for extra water – delicious!
These are totally my go to GF meatballs, Kimi! I like making them with half ground beef and ground turkey to stretch my beef. The versatile seasoning allows them to be used in so many ways. I freeze them and thaw them for a side dish, put in a stir-fry, on rice, or GF pasta. 🙂
Hi, I was just wondering where you live, and where specifically you do your shopping (grocery shopping, farmer’s market, directly at the farm…?). I live in Baltimore, and would be very lucky to find ground grass fed beef for less than $10/lb. 🙁 I’m going to try this recipe and others in the series, anyway. Everything looks great!
Thank you for the ideas Kimi; this will be great for my husband to have to add to his lunch ideas. In the past, I have mixed the ground turkey breast with the beef (and bison sometimes) for a moist combination. When I add garlic and/or onion to recipes such as these meatballs, I need to saute them first so they will be cooked inside the recipe. I usually use olive oil although there are others easily used. If not sauteed first, then they come back on me as raw onions do:). Another idea I had was to add a small amount of Amore’s garlic paste, if you can find it in your area (seemingly no longer in the Denver, CO area); Amazon has but in large quantities.
I needed a GAPS friendly egg-free meatball and you popped up first on my search. I don’t know why I bother with Google; you always have what I’m looking for!
Great recipe. the only thing I changed was I used ground chicken instead of beef, just for health reasons, and I added some coconut aminos terriaki sauce to the mix..it turned out great thanks 🙂
Very excited to try these tonight. I have one son that’s allergic to eggs and another thats allergic to dairy soy and egg, and I’m avoiding wheat. These are perfect and I garentee my husband won’t be able to tell the difference. I might add some Lea and Perrine worcestershire too.
Hope they turned out great for you!
Your cookbook are already packed to move, but I needed to make a couple freezer meals with the ground beef I found on sale. I’m so glad I could find this recipe online! It’s our favorite 🙂
Yay! So glad this was helpful. 🙂
Do you cook them before you freeze them?
Can you substitute potato starch for coconut flour?
Meatballs and raspberry jam? that sounds bizarre!
Thanks for the recipes trying out lots of them today in bulk (because weekend) 🙂
LOL! I guess we got a taste for it with IKEA meatballs we tried once. They serve them with gravy and jam, and it’s surprisingly good!
I used organic ground chicken, delicious!
These are a winner..taste great, amazing consistency and yummy! I Used ground chicken and sausage and followed the recipe exactly! Delish! Just made my second batch of the week so that I can have some on hand in the freezer! Thank you for sharing this recipe!
Tried this recipe this evening and they were great. Thank you!
I used quinoa flakes rather than coconut flour. Also I doubled the amount of herbs. My family loves them!
Thanks for sharing your substitution and so glad they turned out well for you!
Can you taste the coconut? I may want to try quinoa too but we have coconut flour. I like coconut, just have to be in the mood.