Farm moms like us realize that time and budgets are important commodities – just like our crops and livestock! This recipe is perfect for an affordable and easy meal that kids love. What we like best is that you can freeze the cups and pop into the microwave for a fast meal for toddlers and kids. We know that many people are concerned about rising food costs- and specifically meat costs. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) forecasts beef and veal prices to increase by 8-9 percent by the end of 2014, compared with 2013. Pork prices could rise by between 7.5 and 8.5 percent. So, what’s behind the increase? There are several contributing factors, including:
- Effects of drought on cattle herds in the plains and western United States. When drought hit many major cattle-producing states in 2011, the grazing space for cattle greatly decreased. This forced many farmers to sell their animals to be processed. The high cost of feed for cattle further contributed to smaller herds. This decreased the supply of beef available, while demand has remained high. Herd sizes have been slow to rebound and are currently at historic lows, similar to those in the 1950s. That’s because it can take 18 months for a calf to reach market weight.
- Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDv). This pig virus is responsible for millions of piglet deaths in the past year. Hog farms in more than 40 states were affected by the illness that is most fatal to newborn pigs. Farmers tried to compensate by raising their animals to heavier weights, but only partially compensated for the losses. Hog supplies are now back on the rise, but pork prices will continue to be higher until supplies get closer to meeting demand. PEDv poses no risk to other animals, humans or food safety.
- Rising demand for protein from U.S. consumers. The protein power movement is gaining traction here in the U.S. which means greater demand. This can be seen in reports from companies like BB&T Capital Markets and NPD Group and in the menus at Taco Bell, McDonald’s, KFC and Panera.
- Rising middle classes in Asia, Africa and South America. A growing number of people around the world are eating more meat today than in years past. As the global population and individual incomes rise, so, too, does meat demand.
Kid-Friendly Beefy Spaghetti Cups
Ingredients 1 lb ground beef ½ onion, chopped (or substitute 2 tbsp of minced onion) ½ box elbow macaroni 1 cup cottage cheese ½ cup Parmesan cheese 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese 1 cup spaghetti sauce 1 tsp garlic powder 2 tsp Italian seasoning
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Fill a medium saucepan halfway with water. Bring to a boil and cook pasta to al dente (about 8 minutes).
- While the pasta is cooking, brown the hamburger and onion in a small skillet.
- Drain pasta and put in a large mixing bowl.
- Add in cottage cheese, Parmesan cheese, 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese, garlic powder and Italian seasoning to pasta and stir well.
- Slowly add in ground beef and spaghetti sauce. Mix well.
- Spray muffin tin with cooking spray. Fill cups to the top of each with the pasta mixture. Gently press down on each cup.
- Add around one spoonful of mozzarella cheese on top of each muffin cup.
- Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and starting to brown.
- Let the cups sit for 5 minutes before serving, or freeze for easy reheating and a fast meal. Kid-approved!