Why You Should Always Buy More Ground Beef Than What You Need

With the price of meat going up, you may be tempted to cut down on costs, but the next time you buy ground beef you ought to think twice. You may have noticed that, when you cook ground beef, you always end up with less meat in the pan when it's done compared to how much you started with. Well, this is because of something called shrinkage. The fat and moisture content of the beef begins to evaporate when it makes contact with heat, leaving you with less ground beef overall. If you need 1 pound of cooked ground beef, you probably go to the grocery store and buy exactly 1 pound of ground beef. The only problem is that, by the time you've cooked it, you now only have ¾ of a pound of ground beef.

To avoid this problem, simply buy more raw ground beef to start with. Spend the extra dollar and get 1 ¼ pounds of ground beef. That way, when it's time to add the cooked ground beef to the recipe, you're not working with less than you need.

Can you avoid shrinkage?

Shrinkage is unavoidable no matter what type of meat you're cooking with — it's a part of the cooking process. That being said, there are ways you can minimize just how much your ground beef shrinks. As we mentioned, meat shrinks when the fat and moisture content evaporates. How much evaporation occurs depends on how hot your cooking surface is and how long the meat cooks. If you're cooking at high temperatures, the meat will shrink faster. If you cook at medium heat, the meat won't shrink as much. It's not just the rate of evaporation that's affected, high temperatures will actually cause more evaporation to occur.

Not only will you be left with more meat if you cook the ground beef at medium heat, but it will also be juicier and more flavorful. If you allow all of the fat and moisture to evaporate, all you are left with is a dry plate of ground beef. That doesn't sound very appetizing. This same logic works for any recipe you are using ground beef for, such as tacos, hamburgers, casseroles, you name it. Despite these workarounds, some shrinkage will occur. Plan ahead and make sure you have enough food to bring to the table.