This mince bake recipe incorporates brown rice and plenty of vegetables, making it a frugal, filling and healthy one-dish dinner.
Cross between a spaghetti bolognese, a lasagne and a rice casserole, this mince bake (or ground beef casserole for US readers) is filling, frugal and nutritious.
It’s an almost one-dish meal but you can serve it with a side salad, which is nice in summer or some crusty bread or even some garlic bread.
To cook, start by putting the rice on to boil. Brown rice usually takes around 40 minutes to cook but you can save time if you’re using leftovers. A rice cooker can make this step super easy too.
Meanwhile, brown the mince, cook the onion and garlic, add the vegetables and then the passata.
Passata, which you can find in the pasta sauce section of the supermarket, is a tomato puree made from cooking tomatoes with salt and then straining. It gives this dish a rich tomato flavour, but you can also use tinned tomatoes instead and add a little tomato paste or you can use your favourite bottled pasta sauce.
Let it all simmer so the vegetable cook and the flavours all nicely meld together. Don’t worry if it’s a little liquid – we still have to add the rice.
Once the mince mix has simmered, add the cooked rice and stir through.
At this point, you can divide your mix into batches and freeze for later. Or if you want to eat now, spoon the mince mixture into a casserole dish. Then top with plenty of tasty cheese.
Bake in the oven until the cheese is nicely melted and golden.
What’s great about a mince bake is its flexibility. And frugal recipes demand flexibility so you can cook with what’s in season and what you have on hand.
My version uses brown rice. But what if you don’t have brown rice or don’t want to use it?
Substitute with white rice or pasta.
When it comes to the vegetables, use whatever you have in the crisper. Other vegetable options include spinach, cabbage, cauliflower even beans like cannellini or kidney beans.
Double the recipe and save time
The reason I love this dish so much (besides the fact that the kids will eat it without complaining) is that I can double or triple the recipe easily and freeze it for easy meals in the coming weeks.
For a frugal version, double the rice and vegetables without doubling the mince. Meat can be the most expensive ingredient in a meal and stretching it out with extra vegetables saves money and adds the extra nutrients from the veggies.
How to freeze mince bake
This dish can be frozen in batches, saving you time.
To freeze, make the mince bake up to step six in the recipe below.
Divide into meal size batches and put in the fridge to cool.
You can freeze the mince bake in either freezer-safe containers or zip-lock bags. Don’t forget to label your container before placing in the freezer! Everything has a tendency to look the same once frozen.
If you use zip-lock bags to freeze your mince bake, flatten them out and place on a baking tray. Place them in the freezer until frozen. The frozen meals can then be stacked or placed upright in a basket, saving you space in the freezer.
To cook, defrost the mince bake and place in a casserole dish. Cover with cheese and then reheat at 180°C until the cheese is melted and golden and the mince is steaming hot in the middle, approximately 30-40 minutes.
- 1 cup brown rice, uncooked
- 500g ground beef (mince)
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil for frying
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1 carrot, diced or grated
- 1 zucchini, diced or grated
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
- 1/2 cup frozen corn
- 5 button mushrooms, sliced
- 1/2 capsicum, diced
- 1/2 tsp. each of dried oregano and basil
- 1 bottle tomato passata
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup grated cheese
- Boil rice according to packet instructions (This can be made ahead of time).
- Meanwhile, heat half the olive oil in a large fry pan over medium heat. Brown mince. Remove from pan and drain in a colander if needed.
- Add the remaining oil and saute the onion and garlic until translucent.
- Add the carrot. zucchini and mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes.
- Return mince to the pan and add peas and corn and stir in the tomato paste, herbs, tomatoes, and salt and pepper.
- Simmer for 15 minutes until reduced slightly and the vegetables are cooked.
- Stir in rice. (Cool and freeze at this point if freezing).
- Pour into a casserole or baking dish and top with cheese.
- Bake at 180°C (375°F) for 30 minutes or until the cheese is melted and golden.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 611 Total Fat: 36g Saturated Fat: 14g Trans Fat: 1g Unsaturated Fat: 17g Cholesterol: 139mg Sodium: 400mg Carbohydrates: 28g Fiber: 4g Sugar: 6g Protein: 45g
Melissa Goodwin is a writer and the creator of Frugal and Thriving who has a passion for living frugally and encouraging people to thrive on any budget. The blog is nine years old and is almost like her eldest baby. Prior to being a blogger and mum (but not a mummy blogger), she worked as an accountant doing other people’s budgets, books and tax.