Beef,  Dinner,  Recipes

Meatballs In Onion Gravy

I often wonder what people consider to be a frugal recipe. Watching the new series of “Save With Jamie” last night where he talked about his recipes costing about STG£1.75 per portion being frugal I realised it’s easy to forget that frugal to him is excessive to me!  If you’re interested in what I think of his book to accompany the series you can read my review from September here.

Before I get to my own recipe ,which costs far less than what you’d think, I just wanted to mention my own book. The price has dropped significantly on Amazon and if you’re interested in picking it up for a bargain then do head over there, check out the reviews and see if you’re interested.  Meanwhile, as I’m on RTÉ’s “The Consumer Show” tonight at 8.30pm I’m off to find a cushion to hide behind and a pot of tea to keep me steady!

This meatballs in onion gravy recipe uses just a few key ingredients but it is full of flavour. It’s also budget friendly, coming in at just €0.90 per portion for a family of 5.

I always have at least one bag of frozen sweetcorn on the go. When the sweetcorn is flash frozen it preserves far more nutrients than tinned sweetcorn and it’s cheaper per gram to buy than the fresh or tinned alternatives. Another product I keep in the stores the whole year around is spuds. Irish spuds are cheaper this year than the last so bear that in mind when you’re out shopping.

By keeping some key store cupboard ingredients stocked up, I always have options when it comes to planning my meals for the week. Why not give this family meal a try?


  • 2 Large Onions
  • 20 ml sunflower oil
  • 20g plain white flour
  • 1 Low Salt Beef Stock Cube plus 300ml of hot water (optional)/300ml of hot beef stock
  • 400g Minced Beef
  • 2kg White Potatoes
  • 300g Frozen Sweetcorn
  • 300g Carrots


Peel and finely slice the onions. Put a large saucepan on a medium heat, once hot pour in the sunflower oil. Fry the onions in the sunflower oil until they begin to turn golden brown (this will take about 10-15 minutes, while you are waiting you can get on with making the meatballs – see below). Once golden brown in colour, sprinkle the flour on top of the onions and stir well until it coats the onions and begins to toast. Pour over 1/3 of the hot stock and stir until well mixed. Repeat two more times until all the hot stock is gone. Lower the heat on the saucepan.

Divide the minced beef into ping-pong ball sized pieces. Shape into equal sized balls and fry on a dry, hot frying pan until brown. Once the meatballs are brown all over, tip them into the onion gravy to finish cooking on low. Keep any residual fat in the frying pan to one side and leave it to cool before scraping it into the bin.

Peel and chop the potatoes and carrots. Chop the potatoes into large, equal sized chunks, the carrots into chunks half the size, and cook until tender. Drain and mash the potatoes and carrots together. Heat the sweetcorn in a covered dish in the microwave for 3 minutes on medium, stir then heat for a further 3 minutes on high.

This is a perfect batch cook meal, so to make life easier on yourself later on in the week, make double quantities of the mash, meatballs and gravy then freeze, making sure the mash is in a separate container.

This recipe originally appeared on the Irish Independent Online Edition on 2nd May 2014.

I'm an Irish mother to 2 boys, born & bred in Dublin, Ireland. I like to cook simple & fresh food for the family, with the family on a budget.


  • dizzydoll

    Love this recipe, so simple and sounds yummy!
    I had only sat down last night to decide to start being strict with a food budget again because not only are we wasting money we are wasting so much food too through lack of planning!
    We managed before for 2 adults for 45 so I’m horrified that with the addition of a toddler who eats like a mouse we are at 100+ every week putting other things under pressure!
    Spotted you on the consumer show tonight and was delighted to have an Irish blog to follow for tips!
    Your book is on my wish list now and will be my reward if I stay within budget this week! 🙂

    • Wholesome Ireland

      Hi Claire, it really depends on how small you make them. There’s more than enough meat in the amount of minced beef required to feed a family. You can make them small and have a good few on each plate, or go ahead and split them into 5 only and have a plate of giant meatballs.

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