Making the Meal Go Further – Taco Recipe for a Large Family

When you have four young children, recipes don’t need to be altered too much. Between Grant’s picky eating habits, Isla’s small appetite, and Jonah’s inattentive eating (which makes it a chore just to get him to take in 2 tablespoons of food during any given meal), up until recently we could get by on recipes meant for four. But I think soon it will be time to make my recipes 1.5 times the original, or even 2 times as much. I’m the oldest of five, and I know my mom was doubling recipes for us, plus serving ample sides of bread and vegetables at most meals.

I don’t think I need to tell you, but groceries are expensive. And I’ll be the first to admit I’m not the most savvy when it comes to using coupons or shopping sales, though lately I’ve been better at comparison shopping and meal planning so I’m at least buying at the best prices and not buying a bunch of food we’re not going to eat.

One recipe where I’ve been able to double the size of the meal without doubling the price is tacos. Ground beef is already relatively inexpensive, so doubling it in my recipe wouldn’t kill us financially, but I’m trying to cut back where I can. Instead of buying two pounds of ground beef, I use one pound of ground beef, 1 16-ounce can of refried beans, and one entire onion. More vegetables for the kids this way, too, without them realizing it.

Tacos with Ground Beef, Onions and Refried Beans

Serves 6-8

1 pound ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
3-6 garlic cloves, minced
1 package of taco seasoning, or, if you use bulk spices, about 1.25 the amount called for to season 1 lb of meat
16 oz can of refried beans
Taco shells or tortillas
Shredded Monterrey Jack cheese

Heat skillet over medium-high heat and add beef, onion and garlic. Cook for about 10 minutes until beef is browned. Drain fat.

Add taco seasoning as directed. I use Penzey’s original taco seasoning, which calls for 1/4 cup seasoning per 1 lb. of beef, but because I’m adding the refried beans I use a heaping 1/4 cup. You may want to add additional seasoning, as well, though the garlic and onions may be plenty.

After the seasoning has been incorporated, add the refried beans over medium-low heat and mix well. Serve in taco shells or tortillas. Top each with 2 tbsp shredded cheese.

Note: If you don’t like or don’t happen to have refried beans, I found a pretty good substitute – open a can of black beans and drain a little of the liquid out. Put in a blender and puree.



  1. This is so very useful! I think your pictures and compilation are extra well done this post. Whatever you are doing, keep at it!

  2. Tacos are a favorite here. I use about 1 1/2 to 2lbs of ground beef, plus a can of black beans (with the liquid) and the taco seasoning. Then we offer hard shells, tortilla wraps, avocado (a bonus if they’re 99 cents each), tomato, lettuce, and cheese. We’ve also taken to using kielbasa, and topping it with corn and black bean salsa my husband makes, plus a little quacamole. No taco seasoning needed and the kids LOVE it. They ask for tacos at least once a week, but we choose to limit it to once or twice a month.

  3. Good idea. Tacos are a favorite here too. I often bulk mine up with shredded zucchini and carrots too.

  4. I’ve nominated you for the Sunshine award! Please drop by and say hello and pick up your button.


  1. […] ground beef at Costco is over a dollar more per pound than what I buy at my local grocery store to make tacos and Swedish […]

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