Wondering what to cook when you only have some ground meat, a head of cabbage, and some curry spice blend? Make my Garbage Stir-Fry with Curried Cabbage! You can magically transform all the odds and ends in your fridge and pantry into a simple and delicious one-pan supper!

An overhead shot of a bowl filled with ground beef and curried cabbage, a Whole30, keto, and paleo garbage stir-fry from Nom Nom Paleo

I rarely have time to make a big production out of weeknight meals. Between work and parenting, my cup runneth over and I’m not about to make a special weeknight trip to the market to hunt down some exotic ingredients for a complicated new recipe.

An overhead shot of an Indian-inspired beef and cabbage stir-fry with a lime wedge on the side.

Instead, when pressed for time (which is just about always), I rummage through my pantry and fridge and MacGyver something together. With a fridge and pantry stocked with paleo staples, you can make a clean-out-your fridge dinner (a.k.a. garbage stir-fry) in a jiffy.

Keep a defrost bowl in the fridge

Over the years, I’ve gotten lots of questions about my Defrost Bowl, but there’s really nothing all that magical about it. It’s just a big bowl in my fridge that I use to thaw a bunch of frozen meat. (Note: It’s a bowl – not a colander. I certainly don’t want to clean up the bloody goo that inevitably oozes out of my packages of meat.) Ever since I was a nightshift hospital pharmacist, I would routinely transfer some frozen protein from my freezer to my trusty Defrost Bowl; then, when it was time to get cooking, I’d grab whatever protein’s no longer icy, and then decide on a cooking method.

A metal bowl filled with packages of frozen meat that are thawing. This is Nom Nom Paleo's defrost bowl.

My Defrost Bowl serves another purpose, too: It forces me to cook my meat before it spoils, and keeps me from stuffing my face with take-out. Win-win!

Curry Powder + Ground Meat + Cabbage = Magic!

This fragrant and zesty Garbage Stir-Fry—made with ground meat, curry powder, and cabbage—is one of my go-to one-pan recipes when I’m craving Indian food. Don’t worry about the name, by the way; I call it Garbage Stir-Fry, but once you taste it, you won’t want to throw any of it away!

A closeup shot of a brown bowl filled with keto and paleo garbage stir-fry, a delicious ground beef and curried cabbage supper/

I always keep ground meat in my freezer. It’s budget-friendly, versatile, and perfect for stir-frying. Combine it in a hot, greased skillet with alliums, spices from the pantry, and whatever vegetables you have lingering in your refrigerator, and you’ll soon have a big batch of food that you can shovel into your mouth whenever necessary.

Other Garbage Stir-Fry Variations

The whole point of a garbage stir-fry or clean-your-fridge-out meals are to use what you have on hand. Any ground meat (e.g. beef, pork, chicken, turkey, bison, etc.) will work and you can substitute any green leafy vegetable (fresh or frozen) for the cabbage. Although I prefer Madras Curry Powder for the seasoning, it also tastes fantastic seasoned with Magic Mushroom Powder or my All-Purpose Stir-Fry Sauce. If you’re using a spice blend, don’t forget to add a splash of acid at the end, either with citrus or vinegar, to add some extra zing.

What side dishes can you serve with it?

This one-pan dish is already filled with meat and veggies, so you can eat it as is! If you insist on making another dish, you can serve it with these vegetable side dishes:

Ingredients

  • Ground beef, pork, lamb, bison, or turkey
  • Green cabbage
  • Onion
  • Indian curry powder (salt-free)
  • Fresh lime juice
  • Cilantro
  • Green onions / scallions
  • Ghee, avocado oil, or cooking fat of choice
  • Diamond Crystal kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

How to make Garbage Stir Fry

Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Swirl in the ghee when the pan is hot.

Someone adding a spoonful of ghee to a large cast iron skillet.

Add the onions and a sprinkle of salt. Cook the onions, stirring frequently until they’re soft and translucent.

A orange silicone spatula is stirring diced onions in a cast iron skillet

Plop in the ground meat and break it up with a spatula or wooden spoon.

Adding a pound of ground beef to a cast iron skillet filled with sautéed diced onions.

Cook the ground meat, stirring frequently, until it is no longer pink.

A cast iron skillet filled with cooked ground beef and diced onions.

Sprinkle the curry powder on the beef and onions…

Pouring a small glass bowl filled with Indian curry powder on a cast iron skillet filled with ground beef and onions.

…and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir well to incorporate the seasoning.

Someone cracking freshly ground black pepper in a pan filled with ground beef, diced onions, and Madras curry powder.

Toss in the cabbage, and cover and cook for 2 to 5 minutes or until the cabbage softens to your desired consistency.

A covered pan filled with garbage stir-fry, a paleo, keto, and Whole30 ground beef and curried cabbage one-pan supper.

Add a spritz of lime juice, and taste and adjust the seasonings as desired.

Squeezing fresh lime juice on a pan of Nom Nom Paleo's garbage stir-fry, filled with ground beef and curried cabbage.

Top with the minced cilantro and scallions.

Sprinkling fresh herbs on a pan filled with Nom Nom Paleo garbage stir-fry.

How to save leftovers

Leftovers can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for up to four days or up to four months in the freezer!

Two bowls of garbage stir fry, and easy and healthy ground beef and curried cabbage dinner.

Looking for more recipe ideas? Head on over to my Recipe Index. You’ll also find exclusive recipes in my cookbooks, Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2013), Ready or Not! (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2017), and Nom Nom Paleo: Let’s Go! (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2022).


Garbage Stir-Fry With Curried Cabbage

4.96 from 23 votes
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time25 minutes
Servings 4 servings
One of my favorite weeknight, budget-friendly, and versatile dishes is a fragrant and zesty Garbage Stir-Fry with ground meat, curry, and cabbage! 

Ingredients 
 

  • 1 tablespoon  ghee or fat of choice
  • 1 small onion diced
  • Diamond Crystal kosher salt 
  • 1 pound ground beef pork, lamb, bison, turkey, or whatever meat suits your fancy
  • 1 tablespoon Madras curry powder
  • ¼ teaspoon Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound green cabbage thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • ¼ cup minced cilantro
  • 2 scallions thinly sliced

Instructions 

  • Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Swirl in the ghee when the pan is hot.
  • Add the onions and a sprinkle of salt. Cook the onions, stirring frequently until they’re soft and translucent.
  • Plop in the ground meat and break it up with a spatula or wooden spoon.
  • Cook the ground meat, stirring frequently, until it is no longer pink.
  • Sprinkle the curry powder on the beef and onions and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir well to incorporate the seasoning.
  • Toss in the cabbage, and cover and cook for 2 to 5 minutes or until the cabbage softens to your desired consistency.
  • Add a spritz of lime juice, and taste and adjust the seasonings as desired. Top with the minced cilantro and scallions.

Video

Notes

  • Remember: this is just one example of how you can throw together a Garbage Stir-Fry. You could easily substitute your favorite seasoning blend for the curry, or a couple of cups of fresh or frozen vegetables for the cabbage. Don’t be afraid to improvise. Just sample the food as you cook, and stop seasoning when it tastes right.
  • Leftovers can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for up to four days or up to four months in the freezer!

Nutrition

Calories: 358kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 27g | Fiber: 3g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Like this? Leave a comment below!

About Michelle Tam

Hello! My name is Michelle Tam, and I love to eat. I think about food all the time. It borders on obsession. I’ve always loved the sights and smells of the kitchen. My mother was (and is) an excellent cook, and as a kid, I was her little shadow as she prepared supper each night. From her, I gained a deep, abiding love for magically transforming pantry items into mouth-watering family meals.

Other Recipes You May Like

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




8 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Just made this with cabbage and lamb. Tasty! Eating it with seedy crackers as I can’t be bothered to do zoodles or anything else ….;-)

  2. I do a defrost bowl as well! I thought I was unique, oh well good company! thanks for all your inspiration, LOVE the new cookbook! I need to get another one for my grandson he loves to help cook with his Mom, he’s 5.

  3. 5 stars
    This is a top-notch fast, simple, delicious recipe. It has a short list of ingredients that go together in a great blend of flavors-rich in texture and taste. I’ve made it with both beef and pork to good effect. My people especially like it over jasmine rice. Thanks for this splendid recipe!

  4. 5 stars
    I like that the yummy, simple and fast recipe – garbage stir-fry with curried cabbage. My husband and daughter love it so much. Thumbs up! 🙂

  5. 5 stars
    You are right – this is so decpetively simple yet delicious. We had some leftover mushrooms we threw in with it, and that was great. Personally, I thought it needed a bit more seasoning, but that is something best left to taste anyway. We happened to have some Trader Joe’s Zhoug sauce we put on top for an extra fiery experience!