The Best Meatball Recipe (For the Broke and Time-Starved)

My most recent obsession for affordable, leftover-friendly, calorie-conscious meals has brought me to new appreciation for a wonderful food: meatballs. I’ve been working on perfecting my meatball recipe, and, by George, I think I’ve got it. Plus this recipe came in at around $12 for 7-9 servings. That’s less than $2 per serving! Read on for recipe.

Since I started my  “$100 Paycheck Challenge” (only spending $100 during two weeks between paychecks), I’ve had to pinch them pennies with as much force and fortitude as possible. I wanted a dinner I could pack into Tupperware containers and use for a week’s worth of lunches. These Turkey-Beef meatballs utilized items I already had in my pantry (like the breadcrumbs and spices) and are also a leaner option than traditional all-beef meatballs (and SOOO freakin’ flavorful)! It should cost you around $10-$15 depending on the quality of ingredients you buy and what you already have in your fridge/pantry.

Here’s my recipe, adapted primarily by trial-and-error.

Turkey-Beef Meatballs

Serving size: 2-3 meatballs
Yields 7-9 servings

Total time, prep included: 1 hour 10 minutes


1lb Ground Turkey
1lb Lean Ground Beef
2 Eggs
1/2 Cup Plain or Italian-style Breadcrumbs
1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
1/4 Cup Milk
2 tbsp Italian Seasoning
1.5 tbsp Salt
1 tbsp Garlic Salt
1 tbsp Pepper
1 tsp Onion Powder (optional)
3 24oz Jars of Tomato Sauce (your choice!), Plain or Original flavor

1. Put all of your ingredients into a large mixing bowl. You might want to let the meat sit out for a couple minutes before you mix it up because you’ll be using your hands and it gets real cold!

Make sure you take off your rings before you mix the meat, or you’ll end up with meaty rings. Yum?

2. Mix that meat up. This is the most fun part. Wash your hands, dig in, and mix til all the ingredients are evenly combined. Consistency should be moist, but meatballs should retain their shape when rolled into a ball. If the mixture is too dry, add a little water until it reaches desired consistency. If too moist, add a few more breadcrumbs.

Meatballs Before Baking!

3. Mold the mixture into medium-sized balls and place them on a cookie sheet or large baking dish. This is the second most fun part. You are the artist. The meat is your clay. As Michelengelo said, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” Only it’s with meat.

4. Pre-heat your oven to 350°. Bake those tasty lil balls for 25 minutes.

Your meatballs should be delightfully browned when you pop them out of the oven.

5. During the last few minutes of baking the meatballs, pour your three jars of sauce into a large pot. Heat, uncovered, on a med-low setting. I got a great deal on sauce at my local grocery store – there was good stuff on sale for 99 cents per jar. Look for sauce without high-fructose corn syrup or added sugar.

6. Once meatballs are done baking, pop them into the sauce. Simmer on low-med setting, uncovered, for about 30 minutes. Go do your nails or play Diablo or read a book or something.

7. They’re done! Go eat your phenomenal meatballs! The sauce should have thickened and been flavored by the meat. I like to enjoy mine two at a time with a hefty sprinkling of parmesan cheese. Or sometimes I just eat the sauce by the spoonful. No shame.


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