· Food & Recipes · Gluten-Free Recipes · Korean Ground Beef: A Fabulously Frugal Recipe!

Korean Ground Beef: A Fabulously Frugal Recipe!

Korean Beef

Happy Friday everyone…and welcome to our first-ever edition of FRUGAL FRIDAY! I am a firm believer in living a frugal lifestyle for MANY reasons, and only ONE of them is to SAVE MONEY. Frugal living unlocks a world of possibilities. Want to pay off all of your debts? Save for your kids’ college education? Save for retirement? Travel the world? You have more options when you adopt a frugal lifestyle….and life is more fun and rewarding when you have options.

So we hope you will enjoy this new offering on One Good Thing….and let us know how you like it!

Today we are focusing on saving on your grocery budget with my daughter-in-law/assistant Kaitlyn’s fabulously frugal recipe for Korean Ground Beef!

Korean Beef

Meal planning is one of the best things you can do to cut down on your grocery budget. It seems like a simple enough concept but it tends to leave me feeling overwhelmed and frustrated! I have about a million criteria for the meals I choose to cook. Ok, maybe not a million but it seems that way sometimes. I want meals that are healthy, inexpensive, will fill up my 6’5″ tall husband, are easy to make, utilize ingredients I have on hand…and the list goes on and on.

So when I found this recipe for Korean Ground Beef on Lizzy Writes, I practically jumped for joy! With a couple of additions it fit all of my meal planning criteria. I was able to amp up the nutrition and the bulk by adding lots of broccoli and red peppers.

deals to meals

Since this is our first edition of Frugal Friday, I also wanted to make this meal as inexpensive as possible. So I turned to my absolute favorite meal planning tool, Deals to Meals. Check out this post: 4 Simple Steps To Cutting Your Food Budget In Half, to learn more about how to use Deals to Meals.

deals to meals

By buying store brands and price matching at Walmart I was able to get all the ingredients for this recipe for $6.43. It made about 4 big servings which means it was only $1.60 per serving! If you’d like to see a full price breakdown as well as ingredient substitutions check out my handy dandy chart at the bottom of the post.

I’ve made this recipe for dinner a few times now and I think it’s safe to say that it has earned a spot in my permanent meal planning rotation :)

Korean Beef

Bonus Meal Planning Tip: I recently decided to make a recipe binder to help make meal planning a lot faster. Any time I find a new recipe I like it gets printed out, stuck in a page protector and put into the binder. Then when I sit down to meal plan I can flip through the binder to find recipes I like and that utilize ingredients I have on hand.

Korean Ground Beef

Makes about 4 large servings

Korean Beef


  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 bunch green onions, diced
  • Brown Rice, cooked
  • 2 heads broccoli, chopped
  • 2 red bell peppers, chopped


Get your veggies ready before cooking the meat. You can either cook the broccoli and peppers in a sauté pan for a few minutes or steam them.

Korean Beef

Brown the hamburger with the garlic in a pan over medium heat. Drain any excess fat. Add the brown sugar, soy sauce, ginger, salt and pepper. (When I took the pictures for this post I made the mistake of adding the red peppers at this point as well. Do not do what I did! They add way too much water and end up ruining the sauce.)

Simmer for a few minutes until the sauce thickens a bit. Stir in the peppers and broccoli. Dish it all up over a bowl of brown rice and top with green onions.

Korean Beef

What “go-to” recipes do YOU turn to when meal planning gets overwhelming?

Korean Beef

Korean Beef

Korean Ground Beef

Jill Nystul
This recipe for Korean Ground Beef is cheap and easy, and it's even more nutritious with extra broccoli and red peppers. Give it a try!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Asian
Servings 4 large servings
Calories 395 kcal


  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 bunch green onions diced
  • Brown Rice cooked
  • 2 heads broccoli chopped
  • 2 red bell peppers chopped


  • Cook broccoli and peppers in a sauté pan until tender, then set aside.
  • Brown hamburger with garlic in a pan over medium heat.
  • Drain excess fat.
  • Add brown sugar, soy sauce, ginger, salt and pepper.
  • Simmer until sauce thickens.
  • Stir in peppers and broccoli.
  • Serve over brown rice and top with green onions.


Calories: 395kcalCarbohydrates: 52gProtein: 35gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 70mgSodium: 996mgPotassium: 1554mgFiber: 9gSugar: 34gVitamin A: 3785IUVitamin C: 348.4mgCalcium: 187mgIron: 5.7mg

Jill Nystul Photo

Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.
I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee

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Food & Recipes

  • Thanks for sharing really awesome and informative blog especially for the food lovers and professional chef and of course those people who love travelling in their vacations. To visiting news places and taste the different variety food makes the life rocking.

  • Could these also be used as a filling for lettuce wraps? I’m not attempting to go carb-free or anything close to it, but I’ve become fascinated with the idea of lettuce wraps filled with spiced meat lately and was wondering if this could be a recipe to use for it (maybe serving the broccoli and rice on the side)?

  • Thank you so much for the recipe! I just made this tonight and was concerned it would be too sweet, but it tasted great. I played around with the rice and added a little turmeric – made it a pretty yellow color.

  • This recipe is really good. I made it once exactly as specified, and once with onion instead of red bell peppers & some chopped peanuts sprinkled on top. I also added a tiny bit of sesame oil for flavor. This is a great base recipe and can be played with to add different flavors and textures. I’d like to try it with chicken. Thanks for the frugal recipe! I love it.

    • Oh, and I forgot to say this: The second time I made this I sauteed my broccoli and onion in coconut oil for a few minutes. The recipe took on a Thai flavor and it was really, really tasty.

  • Made this tonight using fajita steak instead of hamburger (we frequent a Korean restaurant and they use steak for their bulgogi, so I couldn’t imagine doing it any other way). It was VERY close to the restaurant version, just a little too sweet. So next time I’m going to make it with less brown sugar. Once I master the sauce, I’m excited to try it with different things – chicken, pork, or even just a big pile of stir fry veggies.

  • Tried this tonight with ground turkey, and I used zucchini instead of broccoli. I used a little Truffle Sea Salt that I bought in Italy. I also used a little stevia instead of honey. I really think it would have been fine without any sweetener. Since I’m eating low carb right now, I did not eat it with rice. Delicious! I’ll definitely be making this again, and playing with other ingredients. Thanks, Jillee!

  • using binders for recipes is a terrific idea. I started doing that about 8 years ago when I ran into a supply from my work that was being discarded, along with a lot of page protectors. it’s so easy to slip a recipe in, and if you find after some time that it’s one you don’t like or have never made, just take it out and put a new one in its place. You can take the entire page out when cooking, and the plastic is wipeable. and put your recipes in 2-sided so you get the max space out of them. You can buy plastic pages at a Dollar General store – $1 for a 10-pack. 10 pages, used 2-sided with multiple recipes in a page will hold a lot of recipes!

  • our family’s go to recipe is probably fajitas. pick a meat- the mexican seasoning is optional, saute some onions and peppers, add in items like cheese, lettuce, salsa, sour cream (based on what’s currently in the fridge) and serve in tortillas. We usually make our tortiallas homemade because they’re so easy. it’s an easy way to stretch a little bit of meat because of all the other ingredients that to in to them. and a great way to use of leftover meat items like hamburgers, meatloaf or roast.

  • Jillee/Kaitlyn – LOVE LOVE LOVE the idea of Frugal Friday – please continue this for as long as possible :) It just so happens it fits right in with our family deciding to set up a true budget this year.( I’m ashamed to say we never had one in the past.) We are actually enjoying the challenge that comes with grocery shopping. My husband loves to cook and in the past it was pretty much buy what supplies you need on impulse. Now he sticks to a budgeted amount each week and shops/cooks based on sale items. His creativity is soaring!! i’m really glad to see the American culture overall turning to frugality, be it ever-so-slight at this point. Many years of get it now, pay later has taught us some bad habits that we need to get rid of.

  • Here’s my all time frugal meal planning menu!! (There is just my husband and myself so this one chicken goes really far!!)

    day 1 roast whole chicken dinner

    day 2 enchiladas made with left-over chicken; reserve some chicken for chicken salad for hubby’s lunches; boil remaining chicken to make stock (I pour stock through a colander and refrigerate stock overnight)

    day 3 skim off hardened fat from refrigerated chicken stock and make soup

    day 4 leftover enchiladas

    day 5 leftover soup with green salad, French bread

    day 6 go out to dinner!!! (or not…)

    • wow, Lori – I’m impressed! our family loves roasted chicken. the first day is great, then we usually have the leftover chicken in the same form 2 days later. (cant have it the very next day “we just had the same thing yesterday”. ) Repurposing it into another form is a terrific idea – especially the soup. I didnt think about that- i guess i thought once it was cooked it couldn’t be ‘cooked’ again. Thanks for sharing.

  • Two things—I know that your son has Celiac and this can be extremely limiting diet wise. Now–I know this is NOT the same as having a kid with a big medical problem but–

    We had a dog with this problem. Like I said—not the same! But—after ending up finding out what he COULD eat—eggs and cottage cheese and some corn and other veggies and potatoes—and meat—and discovering how MUCH the canned version of this diet cost–we ended up with a herd of goats (30 is def a herd!) a coop full of chickens; raising our own pigs to use up the milk we didn’t make into cheese for the dog or sell—

    And–because our vet wanted to try and make it so the dog could come in the house rather than live outside or on the porch we tried giving him tiny amounts of wheat etc. And after a year or so of gradually increasing this the dog could tolerate wheat and regular food! When he was diagnosed he could not even be in the house when I baked as the flour in the air made him sick. We had to take him for an elimination test at a specialist vet—who diagnosed the Celiacs. Gave us some practice for a few years later when two of our kids ended up anaphylacticly allergic to insect stings and had to go to long term therapys; and husband and one kid and two grand kids turned up allergic to shrimp!

    Might be worth discussing with his MD.

    AS to Walmart—WM does many things that are NOT nice. But–WM is here to stay. But all of us concerned about this SHOULD TELL WM WHY we feel this way. And yes—we have been personally affected by the vindictive fireing of a family member here during the past week—the Asst Store Mgrs set themselves up as judge jury and executioners and fire people for “violating” made up “rules” that they made up on the spot. There is NO recourse. Now I won’t argue that this person is better off NOT working at WM but–would have been nice had they been able to leave on their OWN time having found a NEW job and not tricked by someone who had it in for him. And the new job that WAS found will pay LESS than WM as he now has to start over at the bottom not at the Zone Mgrs position he had worked up to. It is a very sad fact that now the family will be FORCED to shop at—Walmart.

  • I made this tonight and it was very tasty! I made the ground beef and sauce mixture this morning. As a preference, I used 1/2 the sugar, and 2x the ginger, a good pinch of red pepper flakes, and a chopped onion (what I had on hand), and added sliced mushrooms. When I got home, I reheated the mixture and added a bag of cut up broccoli to steam. Served the red pepper raw as a side. It was very good – thanks for a tasty and flexible idea!

  • We had this for dinner tonight. It was a hit. My six year old had seconds. I doubled the peppers and skipped the broccoli. My son loves steamed peppers.
    Thank you so much for the recipe!

  • Hi – this sounds great and will try soon.- one of my fav go to meals is sloppy joes – I use one from allrecipes.com called neat sloppy joes – super easy – every one loves it and I just add grated carrots, celery – or any other vegetable I have . traditionally it is to be put on buns (which is delicious) but works on rice, noodles etc or just by itself with a salad :)

    and just as a side note – I went to check out deals to meals for the free 2 week trial – and had difficulty signing up as I am from Canada – so I just used the old 90210 zip code LOL. Unfortunately the free trial is only available if you first go to pay pal and sign up and if u choose not to continue u can unsubscribe.(unless I goofed ) I am very careful with giving my paypal info out unless I know for sure I want to continue with the site. Being from Canada I’m not sure it would be as valuable as if you are from the states.

    I love OGT – so many great ideas – I look forward to checking your email every day

  • Just some thoughts………..love the binder and clear sleeves. I use that to access recipes for cleaners (in one binder) and Ideas in another one (99 percent of them are from One good thing by Jillee)…………On another note, instead of using a recipe box or binder, I use a clear under the counter drawer (I think it’s Rubbermaid) that includes two rails and screws. I spray painted the rails and the bottom and sides of the drawer black (as that is the main appliance color in my kitchen) and had my husband install it under my counter where I would use it the most. It holds so many recipes that I’ve only filled it on one side. The measurements are: 10 1/2″ w x 8 1 /2″ d and it holds 2 rows of 3×5 recipe cards…………….Kaitlyn, your recipe above sounds wonderful and I can’t wait to try it !!

  • From a purely visual standpoint it looks like there is very little meat in this dish. My family would be asking, “Where’s the beef?” To make it look like more, try making mini meatballs with the meat instead.
    This takes a bit more time, but really pumps the volume of the dish. And if you need to stretch the meat further add an egg & panko crumbs before making meatballs.
    One last thought– if softer vegetables are substituted for the broccoli and the dish seems to be lacking crunch, add some chopped raw celery to mix just before serving.

    Oh & BTW Kaitlyn you did a great job on the tutorial.

  • After seeing the original recipe on Pinterest it has become a family favorite for a quick week night meal. I have made it with ground beef and ground turkey and it’s fine, but the texture of ground meat just didn’t seem right to me when loosely trying to copy an Asian dish.

    The solution that I came up with is “carne picada” (chopped beef) that I buy at the local Hispanic market. It is the same cut of beef that they for their authentic taco’s. In fact in the Butcher department it is labeled “Carne Picada, Taco Meat”. It’s normally $3.99 #, but half the time it is on sale for $2.99# and I stock up. It’s really good quality (Walmart has a similar cut, but it had a big percentage of stringy fat in the two different times I purchased it- gag!)

    I use it for this recipe of course, tacos, beef stir fries, latin american dishes, bbq sandwiches etc. – whatever dish that you want to elevate from ground beef. I just treat it like steak and get a nice sear on it without over crowding the pan and from there the options what you do with it are endless.

  • Yum. Looking at the ingredients, I think its the “Mongolian Beef” the Chinese restaurant has on the menu. I’ll definitely try this. Our “dinners out” are usually Chinese “in” as there are not many restaurants around here and that one is still a 20 mile round trip. This will be a good recipe for those Saturday nights when I just don’t feel like driving again…like in yet another blizzard.

  • Jill, have you looked into NAET treatments for allergies. Your recipes reflect a gluten free preference which catches my eye since some of our grandchildren had that allergy. We had them NAET treated. They now can have gluten without the usual ill effects.

    I always check your posts and forward to my daughters what they can use. Their emails are more numerous than they want to read in a day so they don’t sign up to get your posts automatically. Thanks, again.

    • Hi Paia! I haven’t ever heard of NAET treatments but I have a feeling they wouldn’t apply to my son. He actually has Celiac disease which is an autoimmune disorder rather than an allergy.

    • I second this idea, except you’re probably right, Jillee, they probably won’t work for celiacs. I had NAET treatments on my MANY allergies, both food and airborne, about 15 years ago, and had great success. They have all stayed away except for wheat and corn. I suspect they were the original problems, and ignoring them for the 20 years before treatment caused the others to develop. I haven’t been back to retreat — I’m getting old and it’s easier to just limit my diet. Keeps the weight off, anyway. And there’s always books like Grain Brain that make me wonder if my body wasn’t trying to tell me something: maybe grains ARE poisonous.

  • Love the idea of my own recipe binder as I’ve putting recipes in a computer recipe file but never seem to get back to them when I need a meal idea. So the binder idea is appealing to me. I can print them out, take them from magazines or off the net, separate them into categories and keep all of my recipes in one place. I get emeals every Wednesday so the recipes I want to keep could go into my binder. I had that same idea after talking with my girlfriend about my sewing patterns. I wanted to make my own pattern book (like a Simplicity or McCalls) only with the pictures of patterns I own. That way when I want to sew something I can flip through my own pattern book, or decide to buy a new one. I will scan the front of all my patterns, sort them like standard pattern books and add to it when I buy new patterns. I hope this will keep me from buying duplicates.

    • I have been using the binders for years. They are great! I make notes right on the recipes – if it is a big hit with everyone, little changes I make to the ingredients, highlight items I don’t stock normally so I can pick them up next trip to the store, etc. I am now up to two full binders – one for main dishes and pasta or meat dishes and one for veggies, soups, appetizers, breakfast stuff, and desserts. NEw recipes get stuffed in the front pocket if I’m in a rush and get filed once a month or so.

      • I just started my binder process! It really helps out a lot!

  • I make something very similar and often use ground chicken or turkey instead of the beef. I usually use a yellow onion (sliced), shredded carrots, zucchini and chopped sweet red bell peppers as the vegetables. I leave out the brown sugar my recipe originally called for, as the the Thai sweet chili garlic sauce and carrots makes it sweet enough for us. I serve it over Asian “sticky” rice or in lettuce wraps. Yummy! The recipe I modified is available at: http://www.mennonitegirlscancook.ca/2012/11/family-style-asian-beef.html

  • Looks like a good, quick meal for busy times with simple ingredients. As for questions about WalMart, I can’t get over the fact that all the issues associated with that store apply to Target and others, but only WalMart is singled out. Seems WalMart has an image problem that Target doesn’t have. Certainly WalMart is richer than most but that itself doesn’t mean they should be singled out for doing exactly what Target is doing. Funny how we cheer those who live the American dream, then typically American, turn on them when they make it.

  • Jillee, I know some in your family have issues with gluten. Do you use a special kind of soy sauce with this recipe or is that something you don’t need to worry about? I’ve tried to steer clear of it, but am wondering what kind you use. I’m sure this recipe wouldn’t be the same without it.

  • Love the idea, love the sound of the recipe!

    If this is going to be a regular feature, would it be too much work to provide a printable format for just the recipe?

    BTW – binders! I’ve been using binder with page protectors for years and they are so much fun! In fact I have one that I started bout 25 years ago for “holiday ideas” that I’ve added to over the years like a scrapbook, and now it’s our family Christmas Traditions manual! All our favorite, and ideas of new things to try in one spot!

    • Hi Andrea! I think we are going to make this a regular feature and I love the idea of having a printable recipe. We’re actually working on a redesign for the site and I think we’re planning to include a tool that will make printing recipes a lot easier. But in the mean time I’ll talk to Jillee about making up a quick printable for recipe posts :)

      • I hate to ask for anything that causes more work…but man, that recipe looks GOOD…LOL Would be so handy for a printable version, sort like what Pioneer Woman does, and we all know how successful her blog is!

  • I love your website and receive daily emails which I look forward to. I absorb nearly every article, pin them, share them and try the recipes and advice at home.

    I’m always amazed however, when you mention buying items from Walmart. I admit I have an ingrained dislike of Walmart, but every reasoning thought makes me find alternatives the the conglomerate that ultimately causes so much harm. I’d rather pay 20 cents more for my items than add more to Walmart’s oversized pockets.

    Just my humble opinion. Meanwhile…love the recipe : )

    • Hi Brooke! I can totally understand your opinion on Walmart. I try to support local businesses as often as I can but when it comes down to it, for most people Walmart is the cheapest option. If you only save $.20 or a couple of bucks on each item it can really add up in the long run.

      • Walmart is notorious for paying low wages, so low in fact that the majority of their full time employees also qualify for SNAP (and Walmart supplies the SNAP application in their Employee Welcome Pack). True they give a lot of money to the community, but IMHO, the community would not need the handout if the wages were better. To me, Walmart has become a twisted Robin Hood–they steal from the poor to give to the poor. They keep the poor people poor, so that the only store the poor can afford is the store causing the damage. Kind a like a modern “company town”–remember the cowboy song Sixteen Tons by Tennessee Ernie Ford?
        Also–like Deborah says below–Target is not any better. The reason why Walmart gets the bad rap is because towns remember when Walmart opened up and how the town’s smaller businesses were driven out. Target does not usually build until Walmart has already driven out the little guy. So Target lets Walmart do the dirty work & then they move in. Target also gives money “back” to the community; my opinion is the same.
        I only went off on this tangent because Laurie asked.
        My advice: if your budget only allows for Walmart shopping–then buy their loss leaders only–do not pick up anything else that another store sells for the same price. Walmart depends on people doing the “one stop” shopping and impulse buying.

      • Thanks CTY. I could not have said it better myself. And I had never thought about the angle with Target’s role.

        Sorry to be so preachy. I didn’t mean to make a big political statement here, but Walmart built it’s business by bringing American manufacturers to their knees and when they didn’t buckle, they went overseas and our jobs and economy are history. Oh, sadly, that rhymes : )

        Meanwhile, I’m going to make up this wonderful recipe!

      • Not to be totally political myself (nor to be a Walmart cheerleader), but compared to fast food places (where the starting jobs are all at minimum wage), even the lowest paying job at Walmart (the cart picker uppers) receive more than minimum wage. I am not too fond of their “drive out the local business” business practices, but there are also ancillary businesses that it keeps in business (NCR who maintains their checkouts and electrical equipment in the offices). And, on the small business front, when I was on yearbook staff in high school, a lot of the small businesses that Walmart cut off at the knees were those same businesses that were so rude to me when I went around asking for ad purchases. Just because you are a small business owner does not make you a saint.

  • I found this recipe on Pinterest a while back and it’s become a family favorite. I started making it with ground turkey and no one knew the difference until I told them! It’s delicious, easy and I always have the ingredients on hand.

  • The “clean print” is right below the chart.

    To cut the calories, eliminate the rice which is what I would have to do with all my disgusting dietary limits, or use riced cauliflower if you like it.

    Good idea to try molasses instead of brown sugar.

    Thanks for “frugal Friday”!

  • This is going on my short list! I may try turkey or chicken with it. Asian food in general can be very healthy. Am I missing the printer friendly link for this recipe?

    • Great idea Paula! I can’t wait to check out the link. Two summer Olympics ago the women in my family got together for the opening ceremonies on a Friday evening and we each brought a dish from a different country. It was so much fun! I made filled crepes, France.

      • I love this idea! When the summer Olympics come back, my son will have just turned 6, so that will be a perfect time to teach him about different cultures and having different dishes from different countries!

  • Love the recipe Kaitlyn, thank you! I look forward to more frugal Fridays! Since the ground beef is on sale this week at Sprouts I definitely will be adding this to my meal plan for next week!!!

    • Don’t you just love Sprouts?? They always seem to have the best sale prices! I just checked Deals to Meals and they’ve also got peppers on sale for $.48!

  • There are 798 calories in 1 pound of Ground Beef (90% Lean / 10% Fat).
    A half-cup of packed brown sugar — either light or dark — contains 418 calories.
    There are 1364 calories in a 2 cup, dry, yields of Brown Rice.
    All together 2580 cal. divide by 4 = 645 cal.

    Just counting…I’m trying to get in shape.

    • Thanks for the breakdown Jenna! In the chart at that the bottom of the post I included some ingredient substitutions that would help cut down on the calories as well. If you don’t have a big appetite you could also cut down on the serving size.

    • Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) would make a great substitute for the brown rice. 172 calories in a 1/4 cup serving. 2.8 grams of fat, 1 mg of sodium, 31 g carbohydrates, 3 grams of sugar. http://www.quinoa.net for more info. :) Ground turkey is also a good sub for the ground beef. My hubby can’t tell the difference. lol

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  • This sounds so good, Jillee! And it’s just the ticket for subbing what I have in the freezer right now…boneless, skinless chicken thighs, frozen peppers and onion mix and frozen broccoli. I love it when you give us ideas that are practical jumping off points! Thanks

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