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.
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 Picadillo 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.
- 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
In a large pot over medium heat, brown the ground beef until no longer pink.
Season it with salt, pepper, and cumin.
Add onions and garlic. Saute until onions are translucent.
Add potatoes, tomato sauce, and just enough water to cover the potatoes.
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.)
Serve warm (see below for serving suggestions).
- *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:
- Mostly Meatless Nacho Dip
- Cumin Beans & Cornbread (learn to cook dry beans!)
- Turmeric-Spiced Chicken & Rice
- 10-Minute Tomato Soup
- 10 Budget-Friendly Clean Eating Dinner Ideas
- Dinner for a Dollar: Real Food Recipes for Under $1 a Serving
- Cajun Beans, Sausage, & Rice
- White Bean Chili (learn to cook dry beans!)
- Turmeric Lentil Soup