Low Fat, Veggie-Packed Meatloaf/Meatballs

For years when I thought of meatloaf, I had a flashback to the mystery meat served in the school cafeteria. It wasn’t until recently that I realized meatloaf wasn’t actually supposed to be a pale, brick-hard, loaf of meat. Now it’s become one of my favorite dishes. 

Today I’m showing you the trick to making a moist, flavorful meatloaf that’s low in fat and packed with veggies. This recipe can also be used to make meatballs, as seen in the picture above. 

Tip #1: Use veggies to make up for a low-fat cut of meat. 

The higher fat meat you use, the moister your dish will be. If you choose to use a low fat cut of beef or turkey, add soft vegetables to your meat mixture to provide texture and moisture. For my recipe, I chose a 92% lean turkey (turkey was cheaper, but beef works just as well) and added sautéed onions, mushrooms, celery, and carrots.

Tip #2: Add Moisture. 

Soak the bread crumbs in milk before adding to the meat. Ketchup or barbecue sauce not only add flavor, but they keep the meatloaf from being dry. 

Tip #3: Lightly Touch. 

Don’t overmix or try to make the meat into a solid block/ball. Use your hands to combine the ingredients gently. 


Tip #4: Take A Break. 

Let the meatloaf/meatballs rest for 5-10 minutes after they are finished cooking. This helps retain moisture. 

Isabella’s Low Fat, Veggie-Packed Meatballs/Meatloaf: 

Supplies: Oven, Saute Pan, Bowl, Knife, Cookie Sheet or Loaf Pan, Thermometer

Servings: 8

Cost Per Serving: $1.24


  • 1/3 white onion
  • 2 whole carrots
  • 2 celery ribs (sticks) 
  • 1 1/2 cup mushroom, whole (5-6 mushrooms)  
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil 
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk 
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 1/2 lb ground beef or turkey (I used 92% lean)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup BBQ sauce 


  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. 
  2. Finely dice onion, carrots, celery, and mushrooms. 
  3. Heat olive oil in sauté pan over medium-high heat.
  4. Add diced onions, carrots, and celery to the pan. Cook until tender. Then add diced mushroom to the mixture and cook until soft. 
  5. Add the egg to a separate large bowl. Whisk egg. 
  6. Soak 1 cup breadcrumbs in 1 cup milk. 
  7. Add ground beef, milk, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper to the bowl with the egg. Use hands to combine ingredients gently. 
  8. Fold vegetable mixture into the meat mixture. 

If making meatballs: 

Gently form meat mixture into balls and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet. If the meat is not easily forming into a ball, add more breadcrumbs. Once meatballs are on the cookie sheet, pour barbecue sauce on top. Cook for 20-25 minutes or until done. Test for doneness by inserting a thermometer into the meatball. Meatballs are cooked when the internal temperature is 155ºF. Cooking time will vary based on ovens. 

Note: I used an air fryer to make these, and I loved it! If using an air fryer, cook at 400ºF for 15 minutes. 

If making meatloaf: 

Lightly place meat mixture into a loaf pan. If you do not have a loaf pan, form mixture into a loaf shape on a cookie sheet. If it is not holding its shape, add more breadcrumbs. Pour barbecue sauce on the top of the loaf. Cook for 1 hour or until done. Test for doneness by inserting a thermometer. Meat is cooked when the internal temperature is 155ºF. 

Serve with mashed potatoes!

Grocery List

All items were purchased at Walmart Grocery Store in St. Robert, MO. Prices listed were reported on 9/27/19.

Grocery Store Bill

  • 18 oz Barbecue Sauce = $0.98
  • 15 oz Bread Crumbs = $0.92
  • 0.5 Gallon Milk = $1.89
  • 6 eggs = $0.56
  • 8.5 oz Olive Oil = $2.28
  • 8 oz Mushrooms = $1.88
  • 1.6 oz Celery = $1.18
  • 1 lb Bag Carrots = $0.82
  • 1 Onion = $0.70
  • 2 lb 92% Ground Turkey = $9.04

Total Bill = $20.25

Price of the ingredients used in this recipe:

  • 0.5 c. Barbecue Sauce = $0.24
  • 1 c. Breadcrumbs = $0.48
  • 1 c. Milk = $0.23
  • 1 Egg = $0.09
  • 1 Tbs Olive Oil = $0.13
  • 6 Mushrooms = $0.94
  • 2 Celery Stalks = $0.59
  • 2 Carrot Sticks = $0.27
  • 1/3 Onion = $0.23
  • 1.5 lb 92% Ground Turkey = $6.78

Cost For Full Recipe = $9.98

Cost Per Serving = $1.24

Let me know if you made this recipe!

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