Picadillo (Mexican Beef & Potato Stew)

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An authentic, frugal, hearty, ground beef staple that uses a few ingredients and costs pennies per serving. Picadillo is also gluten-free, dairy-free and Whole30 approved!

Picadillo (Mexican Beef & Potato Stew)

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I used to think that making international food was unrealistic on my tight budget. We were struggling to simply put enough food on the table that tasted halfway decent – forget about exotic spices or specialty ingredients.

I forgot that Beans & Rice – the classic budget meal – is a multi-national dish. Nearly every culture that can grow those crops has some version of that inexpensive meal.

The same is true for staples like beef and potato stew. The version I’m sharing today is Mexican Picadillo. This whole dish takes less than an hour to put together, and it only uses a few ingredients that you can find at any grocery store.

picadillo with tortillas

Mexican Picadillo

There are all kinds of versions of Picadillo. It’s a staple across multiple countries and cultures. However, this version is from a dear friend whose family is from Mexico. It’s one of her favorites, and it’s amazing.

You can add all kinds of ingredients to picadillo. Try carrots and peas, or serving it over rice. Olives and raisins are traditional as well.

For this recipe, I kept it extremely simple so you can do it on a budget, eat real food, and enjoy a hearty, delicious meal with a rich heritage.

Allergy-Free Picadillo

As an added bonus, Picadillo is one of those rare comfort foods that is naturally allergy-friendly!

Picadillo (Mexican Beef & potato stew) is:






Nearly every culture has a collection of frugal dishes. If you’re living on a tight budget but love trying food from across the world, don’t wait for better days. There are simple, inexpensive, healthy recipes everywhere. And thanks to the internet, it’s never been easier to find them.


Budget-Friendly Beef & Potato Stew

If I use cheap ground beef from the grocery store, picadillo costs around $.50/serving. If I use that grass-fed beef, it costs around $1/serving. So it’s a very budget-friendly dinner either way.

You can even try stretching the meat by using a mixture of cooked brown lentils and ground beef.

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    Picadillo (Mexican Beef & Potato Stew)
    Servings: 6
    Author: Steph Jenkins
    • 1 lb ground beef
    • 4 large potatoes, quartered and sliced about 1/2-inch thick
    • 2 tsp garlic, minced
    • 1/2 onion, diced
    • 3-4 tsps cumin, to taste
    • Two 8-oz cans tomato sauce*
    • 3 cups water or vegetable broth, approximately
    • Salt, to taste
    • Pepper, to taste
    1. In a large pot over medium heat, brown the ground beef until no longer pink. 

    2. Season it with salt, pepper, and cumin.

    3. Add onions and garlic. Saute until onions are translucent.

    4. Add potatoes, tomato sauce, and just enough water to cover the potatoes. 

    5. Give it a good stir and simmer, uncovered, on medium-low heat until potatoes are tender and liquid has reduced, approximately 30-45 minutes (depending on how reduced you want the liquid.)

    6. Serve warm (see below for serving suggestions).

    Recipe Notes
    • *FRUGAL TIP: Whisk one 6-oz can tomato paste with 1 cup water to make 2 cups tomato sauce. I like using tomato paste because it’s less expensive and has less added ingredients than tomato sauce.
    • You can serve this as is or with any of your favorite taco toppings – cilantro, sour cream, green onions, etc.
    • FLAVOR TIP: This stew has a very simple, mild, cumin flavor. If you’re looking for a more taco-food flavor, you can doctor it with chili powder and paprika, or taco seasoning. Just don’t call it authentic picadillo.


    Please note: The actual calories and nutrition of this dish depend on what ingredients you use.

    More Budget-Friendly Dinner Ideas:

    What You Can Do Now:

    What’s your favorite frugal soup?

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