Easy ways to add beef to your back-to-school menus

(BPT) – As the school year kicks off, parents are seeking meals that keep their children happy and healthy. On top of that, they need dinner options that are quick for their hectic schedules, fit into the budget and go beyond frozen pizza and entrees. Beef delivers on nutrition, simplicity and versatility to please every family member with delicious meals for back-to-school.

Parents can incorporate beef into a variety of meal options: burgers, pot roast, tacos, spaghetti and meatballs, stew and chili. Most beef entrees offer short cook times and require minimal preparation. Frozen ground beef, pre-made patties and meatballs packaged in single servings can all be prepared on the stovetop in less than 30 minutes.

Pre-plan: Pre-planning meals is a lifesaver for families on the go. Consumers can map out daily meal choices based on activities for the week. For busier nights, slow cooking or Instant Pot meals prepared the night before make meal time quick and easy. Plus, creating shopping lists helps you save time at the store.

Make larger batches: Busy families can save time and money by cooking larger batches of meat and making meals ahead of time to freeze a portion for later use. Also, combining a key few ingredients to bulk up your dish stretches your dollars and food further. For example, adding a can of refried, black or chili beans to taco meat creates a heartier, more filling meal.

Add protein: Ground beef is a particularly convenient protein. According to Cargill’s consumer research, when American beef consumers were asked what attributes they associate with ground beef, 80% said it is versatile and can be used in many dishes, 78% said it is quick and easy to prepare and 70% said it is great for everyday eating.

Save time: Options are also increasing for families seeking to save time by purchasing items with some of the prep already done. Cargill reports that value-added proteins, such as seasoned beef patties and pre-cut strips and cubes of beef, are all growing in sales. These time-saving solutions help families enjoy all their activities, as well as satisfying home-cooked meals, together.

In particular, younger consumers find value-added proteins to be a quality value and delicious. Compared to their older counterparts, a significant portion of consumers who are 50 years old or younger said they consider pre-formed hamburger patties to be a good value and taste good.

Preserve nutrition: While convenience and versatility are key factors for family meals, parents don’t want to sacrifice nutrition for speed. Consumers care about protein, but they frequently express confusion about beef’s value as an excellent source of protein. Only 62% of American beef consumers consider ground beef to be high in protein, according to a recent consumer survey conducted by Cargill.

Beef is packed with 18 grams of protein per serving to keep children energized and satisfied during the school year. According to the USDA Dietary Reference, consumers should consume about 0.4 grams of protein per pound of body weight as part of a balanced diet. So, someone who weighs 100 pounds needs 40 grams of protein each day, and beef’s protein content per serving can account for a large part of that daily allowance.

Beef brings more to the table than just protein. Its Omega-3 healthy fats can decrease the risk of heart disease and other chronic diseases, delivering a balanced and cost-effective meal.

As the school year starts and schedules tighten, beef is the reliable choice for families on-the-go. From tacos to burgers to meatballs, meals made with beef will have every family member clamoring for dinner. And beef’s benefits of convenience, nutrition, flavor and affordability saves parents time and money delivering delicious meals while balancing back-to-school.

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