Updated: Nov 7, 2019
If you're looking for a complete protein that's delicious, nutrient dense and easily digested, beef mince is an excellent choice. It's simple to prepare and if you cook in bulk you'll quickly have a protein base that you can use to create a variety of meals. Cooking your mince into burgers ahead of time is a game changer for your meal preparation. Rather than just cook a single portion of meat at each meal, set a day and time that you will cook 1 to 2 kg of meat (depending on your portions).
Rule of thumb: Each time you cook, try to make enough to last you at least 5 meals - unless it's a steak or a salmon fillet. then keep it in the fridge and pan fry it immediately before eating.
Same burger, different meals
You don't have to eat an identical plate of the same burger and veggies 4 + times a day, though. From just a simple burger, you can create all kinds of different meals. Variety is important to integrate a range of different nutrients into your diet, but also to keep your daily menu interesting and avoid the mental fatigue that can often accompany meal preparation. Combine each burger with a range of foods - vegetables, salad, rice, potato, etc. - to make a different meal each time.
For example, you might make 1 kg of beef burgers on a Sunday afternoon. You'll have a supply of burgers in the fridge ready each time you need it. One day, you might have a burger and rice. Another day, you might have a burger and a Greek salad. Another meal could be a burger and a side of roast veggies and greens.
Tip: If you make more than you're going to eat in 2 to 4 days, freeze some of the burgers immediately after cooking and simply put the container back in the fridge to defrost a day ahead of time.
Same recipe, different meats and spices
You can also use different meats and rotate your herbs and spices each time you make your burgers. Here's some of my favourite combinations:
Ground cumin and paprika.
Mexican chilli powder (look for a product that only contain herbs and spices, no sugar or numbers. Here's an example.)
Dried or fresh rosemary and thyme.
Dried oregano and basil.
Making portions simple
Cooking in bulk makes life easier, but remember to think about your portion size. If your excellent attempt to prepare your food ahead of time just translates into eating more than you'd planned to eat at each meal because it's there, it's fair to say that your genuine intentions may have back fired. It's really simple to track portions if you're making burgers. All you need to do is think about the total amount of beef that you used in the recipe to assess the size of each burger.
For example, if your meals call for 125 g of beef (in my nutrition programming, this is based on the raw weight of the meat), it's easy to calculate that 1 kg of mince should make you 8 burgers. Then, all you need to do is make 8 burgers of about the same size before cooking in the pan.
The more time in the kitchen that you collect under your belt, the better you'll be able to quickly 'eye' your portion and be able to tell that it's enough. If you're just getting started, you could use digital kitchen scales to help you learn about portions and macros. Apply your common sense here. You don't need to be pedantic to the gram unless you're doing something pedantic like prepping for a fitness competition. If you're deep into a fat loss phase, measuring foods is valuable data. The scales don't lie, and it's the most accurate method to maintain precision and control your variables as closely as possible. In a competition prep, I prefer to use a scale to quickly measure each burger before I place it in the pan, just to make sure that each meal contains the right amount of protein for that meal. In that setting, I need the added degree of detail. The rest of the time, I don't use scales because I can tell whether my portion is about right.
Portobello beef burger
A juicy 100 % beef patty on a portobello bun, topped with sauerkraut and a side of cauli rice
Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 15 minutes Difficulty: Easy Portions: 8 meals @ est. 26 g protein per serve
1 tbsp butter
1 kg premium beef mince
1 medium red onion, diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground paprika
1 tsp pink rock salt
Tip: You can easily double this recipe to cook 2 x the burgers in about the same time! If you can coordinate a couple of pans on the stove (trust me, you'll be alright), you'll make the most of your time in the kitchen.
Large bowl to make burger mix
Large fry pan (I use a cast iron pan)
Kitchen scales (optional)
Combine mince, onion, garlic, egg, tomato paste and spices in a large bowl until evenly distributed. I use my hands to do this.
Melt butter in a large fry pan on the stove at a medium heat. If the pan isn't large enough to fit all the burgers at the same time, half the butter and make 2 batches in the same pan, or use 2 x pans at the same time.
Season with salt before flipping (this helps to hold in moisture for a juicier burger patty!)
Fry burgers in pan for about 8 to 10 minutes on each side, or until cooked.
While cooking the burgers (if there's room!), add a portobello mushroom to the pan and sautee until cooked, about 5 minutes each side.Assemble mushroom burger, using your favourite toppings and sides.
My plate features:
Lightly cooked spinach
Sliced crisp cucumber
Cauli rice (prepared earlier!).
Some of my other go to add ons include:
A slab of vintage cheddar
Use your imagination!