20 Ways to Use the Whole Cow

Anyone who has ever purchased a half or whole beef carcass has likely been a little perplexed at some of the meat cuts they’ve received back.  Cooking a T-Bone, Rib Steak, or grilling a hamburger is relatively straightforward, but how do you use round steak, stew meat, and all those roasts?!  Even if you don’t purchase your beef by the half or whole, this post contains 20 ideas for using those less expensive cuts of meat.  So, stock up next time your grocer has a sale, here’s some great ways to use those lesser known and valued cuts!

Round Steak

  • Betty Crocker Tex Mex Slow Cooker Round Steak – The slow cooker method is perfect for leaner cuts like the round steak. This recipe makes a large batch so be prepared or perhaps cut the additional ingredients in half for a smaller family.  I added 8 ounces of cream cheese during the last 30 – 45 minutes of cooking for a richer flavor and served over rice.
  • Round Steak Stroganoff – This recipe can easily be made with Cream of Chicken soup (really!) if you don’t have Cream of Mushroom soup on hand. A slow cooker recipe also exists if desired.
  • Beef and Broccoli Stir-Fry – This was always our favorite way to use broccoli that came in our Bountiful Baskets. It’s delicious over rice and tasting it you would never guess it comes from a lesser valued cut of beef.

Stew Meat

  • Campbell’s Shortcut Beef Stew – This recipe calls for sirloin steak, but stew meat works just fine. However, I recommend allowing the soup to simmer 20 minutes or longer to ensure the connective tissue in the stew meat has time to tenderize.  I typically use 2 cans of condensed tomato soup (no French Onion soup) and rather than frozen vegetables add chunks of potatoes, onions, and carrots and allow it to boil until the vegetables are tender.  In the final five minutes or so, I like to add frozen peas and to serve, sprinkle parsley on for some color.  The Worcestershire sauce provides some good flavor and a little additional garlic salt and pepper is good as well.

Cubed Steak

Sirloin Steak

  • Grilled Steak Fajitas – This is one of Kaleb’s all-time favorites and is impressive to
    steak fajitas

    Grilled steak fajitas are a favorite of Kaleb’s and his typical birthday meal request.

    serve as well. Spanish rice makes a nice side if desired.

Roast Beef

I typically cook roast beef in the slow cooker (seasoned first with salt and pepper) on low with a small amount of water for 8 hours (4 hours on low, 4 hours on high) and serve with mashed potatoes and gravy, carrots or peas, rolls, and perhaps Apple Pie for the All-American Sunday dinner.  For the roast beef leftovers, here’s a few options:

  • BBQ Beef – Simply slice up the beef and add to a saucepan with your favorite bottled BBQ sauce and heat through for BBQ Beef sandwiches. Chips or potato salad, fruit or carrot sticks, or baked beans on the side makes an easy and complete meal.
  • French Dip – French dip sandwiches are another quick and easy leftover meal.
  • Cowboy Cocktails – My friend Kelsey first introduced me to the Cowboy Cocktail of Big Mouth BBQ at the Montana State Fair food court during our 4-H steer showing days. They can easily be made with layering baked beans in a bowl followed by BBQ beef (or pork) and potato salad or coleslaw on top.  The hot/cold, crunchy/soft, sweet/tangy combination is delicious and a one bowl meal!

Ground Beef

Ground beef or hamburger can easily be stretched to feed multiple mouths with many of these recipes.  When ground beef is on sale, stock up and fry 5 – 10 pounds at a time, drain any grease off, cool, and bag into 1-pound batches in Ziploc bags and freeze.  Then, when short on time you can simply pull a bag of browned ground beef out and still have dinner on the table in short order.  Depending on the recipes you typically use the ground beef for, you may choose to dice up onions with the beef as well.

  • Betty Crocker Meatballs – These are a great staple to have cooked and, in the

    Meatballs can easily be mixed in a mixing bowl, scooped with a cookie scoop, baked, and frozen for multiple meals.

    freezer, and can then be added to spaghetti for spaghetti and meatballs, to rice for sweet and sour meatballs, or to mashed potatoes and gravy.

  • Chili – Everyone has their favorite recipe, or try a few of these out. Cornbread or cinnamon rolls make a great side and leftover chili can be used for a topping on baked potatoes or in tortillas with cheese on top as well.
  • Lasagna – This lasagna recipe is extremely simple and makes a quick and tasty meal with salad and garlic bread.
  • Cheeseburger soup – When providing snacks after church, I occasionally do nachos and then use the leftover nacho cheese in cheeseburger soup in place of the Velveeta cheese the recipe calls for.
  • Taco Pie – This is a quick and easy recipe, and hard to go wrong with Fritos, sour cream, cheese, and beef!
  • Shepherd’s Pie – In terms of shepherd’s pie recipes, this one is fairly easy. I typically add extra ketchup for more sauce.  Double the mashed potatoes and then use the extras the following day for meatballs (from the freezer), mashed potatoes, and gravy.
  • Sloppy Joes – Sloppy Joes are another quick and easy dish that easily becomes a meal with some carrots sticks or celery and fruit. If you plan to make it the same week as the fajitas, you can buy the green peppers in bulk!
  • Taco soup – Another good soup recipe to top with some cheddar cheese and tortilla chips.
  • Cheesy Hamburger Noodle Bake – This is a great alternative to lasagna and can easily be doubled for a 9 x 13 pan or to freeze some. Great with a salad and bread!
  • Runzas – Nebraska’s ‘Runza’ restaurant serves beef and cabbage sandwiches and this recipe does a great job replicating. I use my favorite bread recipe, Whole Wheat Refrigerator Rolls, and have around 24 sandwiches for the freezer for Kaleb’s lunches.  When cabbage was $0.38/lb. this week, it was time to bake some of these for the freezer!

How about you?  What are your favorite ways to use the whole beef carcass or capitalize on those less expensive cuts of beef?  Leave your recipes in the comments!



Chili with a side of cinnamon rolls, apples, and cheese makes a delicious dinner for a cold winter’s day.

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