German Cabbage Rolls: #26 of 1000 Sustainable Food Experiments

If you’re looking for comfort food in Germany or Russia, you might come across this dish of cabbage, beef, rice, onions, and tomato. I know it from the Mennonite tradition in Canada, as the first dish Tim’s grandmother made for me. It is also fantastic as leftovers, so I make a big tray and it lasts for at least 3 dinners.

This is part of our 1,000 Food Experiments to create sustainable meals for our family and hopefully yours.

Ingredients ($15 total)

1 large savoy cabbage – $3.69
1 onion, chopped – $0.50
2 tbsp olive oil – $0.20
1 cup rice – $0.50
2 cups water – free
1 lb organic ground beef or chicken – $5.99
3 eggs – $0.87
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce – $0.20
2 tsp salt – $0.10
Pepper to taste
1 carton creamy tomato soup (946 mL) – $2.69


1. Dig out the core of the savoy cabbage carefully with a sharp knife, then pull off the leaves. Bring a large pot of water with some salt to a boil and boil the cabbage leaves for 5 minutes to soften, then cool off in a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking. 

In a pan, cook the chopped onion in the olive oil for about 8 minutes, stirring frequently, until it starts to brown. In a separate pot, cook the rice with the water by bringing it to a boil and then turning off the heat to let it sit and soak up the water.

2. In a medium bowl, mix the ground beef, salt and pepper, Worcestershire sauce, eggs, onions, and rice until well combined.

Take a leaf of softened cabbage and put a scoop (about 1/3 to 1/2 cup depending on the size of the cabbage leaf) of meat filling at the base of the leaf. Tuck in the sides and roll it up and away from you to form a neat little bundle.

3. Repeat until you run out of meat filling, arrange the cabbage rolls tightly in a casserole dish, then pour the tomato soup over the whole thing. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 325F for 2 hours. Serve warm or freeze for future enjoyment!

Sustainability Score (explained here)

  • Time to make: 2 = 1-3 hours
  • Servings:  3 = >6 servings
  • Cost per person (prices based on Trader Joe’s/Costco): 3 = <$5
  • Deliciousness: 3 = when are we having this again?
  • Environmental impact: 2 = moderate impact
  • Nutritional value: 3 = optimal nutrition
  • TOTAL: 16/18

If you tried it, please let me know how it came out for you. Wishing you and your family a healthy, happy day!

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