When you want to make a low-fat meal, ground beef might not be the first ingredient you consider. However, this convenient meal starter can be combined with other foods to make a variety of meals that are low in fat. Start with 95-percent lean ground beef, which contains only 4.3 grams of fat per 3-ounce serving, since regular 70-percent lean ground beef has a whopping 25.2 grams of fat per serving, making it hard to create a low-fat meal.
Fill up with a low-fat chili made with extra-lean ground beef mixed with lots of beans, tomatoes, onions, chili powder and garlic. The beans and other vegetables are nearly fat free and high in fiber, making them lower in energy density, or calories per gram, than the ground beef. The higher the proportion of these ingredients to beef in your chili, the lower the overall fat and calorie content will be. This will allow you to have a larger serving so you feel full without consuming too much fat or too many calories. You could also add ingredients like whole-wheat macaroni or corn to your chili if you aren't set on a more traditional chili.
2. Hamburger Soup
While hamburger soup can be made with pretty much any ingredients you like, you'll want to use plenty of vegetables to add nutrients and flavor without adding fat. Skip the tortillas and shredded cheese some recipes include to keep the fat as low as possible. Try a mix of onions, celery, corn, tomatoes and carrots along with broth, ground beef and spices, or make a more Mexican-style hamburger soup with kidney or pinto beans, corn, jalapeno peppers, garlic, cilantro, tomatoes and taco seasoning. Saute your ground beef and drain it before adding it to your soup, rinsing it off first in water to remove any extra fat.
3. Spaghetti Squash with Sauce and Meatballs
Fit in an extra serving of vegetables by serving cooked spaghetti squash instead of pasta and top it with your favorite low-fat pasta sauce and meatballs. While meatballs can be high in fat, you can lower the fat without losing out on flavor by mixing in some tomato sauce and spices along with a filler, such as cooked quinoa, rolled oats or whole-wheat bread crumbs. Bake your meatballs in the oven instead of frying them to lower the fat content of your meal even more.
Although you may not think of ground beef as a salad ingredient, you can use it to add protein to your favorite salad. Make a taco salad with layers of green leaf or Romaine lettuce, tomatoes, corn, kidney beans, ground beef cooked with taco seasoning and a small amount of low-fat cheddar cheese and fat-free salad dressing, or make a Greek-inspired salad with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, ground beef and a small amount of chopped black olives and low-fat feta cheese.
Stir-fries don't require much fat for cooking, so they are a nutritious low-fat meal option. You should include at least twice as much vegetables as ground beef, and cook the ground beef first so you can drain off any extra fat before adding the vegetables. You can use any vegetables you like, but carrots, celery, onion, water chestnuts, mushrooms, bell peppers, broccoli and bok choy are all good choices. Add some garlic and other seasonings for flavor and serve over brown rice.