Last December, I described how Kris and I join three other couples to buy a side of beef every year. After crunching the numbers, I concluded that buying beef in bulk can be an excellent deal, but not for everyone. Buying a side of beef is a good choice if you like to cook, you eat a lot of meat, you have storage space, and quality is important to you.

Last year we paid $300 for 83 pounds of beef, for a net cost of $3.61 per pound. This year we paid $277 for 81 pounds of beef. Our net cost was $3.42 per pound.

Some of you are probably wondering what we do with so much beef. We eat it, of course! We explore our cookbooks. With 40 pounds of ground beef each year, we’ve had a chance to try a lot of different recipes. One of our favorites is this Taco Soup: it’s easy to prepare, re-heats well, and costs about a buck per generous serving.

Taco Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground beef, browned and drained
  • 2 large yellow onions, diced and cooked with ground beef
  • 7 cups water (or use beef broth and omit concentrate below)
  • 1 can (about 15 ounces) corn kernels
  • 2 – 3 cups potatoes, diced
  • 7 oz. can of diced green chilis
  • 1 pkg Taco seasoning
  • 1 can (about 15 ounces) diced tomatoes
  • 1 can condensed cheddar cheese soup
  • 2 tbsp. beef broth concentrate such as “Better than Bouillon”
  • 1 can (about 4 ounces) sliced black olives

Preparation:
In a large pot combine water, corn, and potatoes. Bring to a boil. Simmer 20 minutes. Add green chilis, taco seasoning, tomatoes, and cooked ground beef & onions. Simmer 15 minutes more. Add cheese soup, olives, and beef bouillon. Simmer 5 more minutes. Makes 10-12 two-cup servings. Prep time: 45-60 minutes.

Notes:
The ingredients for this soup can be purchased for about $12.50 at most supermarkets, yielding a cost per serving of $1.00 to $1.25. Kris likes to serve this soup with sour cream and corn chips, which would increase your cost somewhat, but I prefer it without these garnishes. This recipe is easy to stretch by adding more corn, tomatoes, or potatoes, or even your favorite canned beans. This soup freezes well.

For nearly a decade, this recipe has been a favorite among one of our groups of friends. It’s never going to win any awards for health or taste, but we like it. It’s good, cheap, hearty fare — perfect for autumn evenings.

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