Budget Chili Mac

We had tacos last night, and we ended up with about a half pound of leftover seasoned ground beef, already cooked. I could let this sit in the fridge and hope someone eats it…or I could make dinner with it!

Chili mac is already a bit of a budget meal, but it’s even cheaper when you use your leftover taco meat as your base. It becomes a completely new meal that doesn’t feel “leftover.” The key is to use what you have on hand and substitute as necessary.

Chili Mac 1 Jan 13


  • 1/4 to 1/2 lb. leftover cooked beef or chicken (cooked)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 c. uncooked elbow noodles
  • 1-2 cans veggies (or equivalent frozen veggies) — I like corn or frozen mixed veggies
  • 1 can beans (optional)
  • about 1/2 T. chili powder (or more to taste)
  • about 1/2 T. cumin
  • 1/2 T. dried minced onion
  • toppings — shredded cheese, sour cream, olives, shredded lettuce (optional)


Add all ingredients except noodles to a large pot. Add 1-2 cups of water to make a very soupy texture. Remember, you’ll have noodles to soak up much of the liquid. Heat to boiling. Take a taste to check your seasoning level.

Chili Mac 2 Jan 13

If you used unseasoned meat, you may need to add more seasoning to the pot. Just add whatever spices you want until it tastes good to you. Then, add the macaroni. Simmer for about 10 minutes or until the macaroni is tender. If it gets too dry, add a bit more water.

Then, dish it up  and top it however you like. Yum! For our family, this makes enough for leftovers for lunch the next day, too.

Chili Mac 3 Jan 13


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