Meal planning is a wonderful skill that comes easy to people. I imagine it might work well for a younger family, but it just doesn’t work for me and Hubby. Sometimes we just don’t feel like eating what’s on the menu, or don’t feel much like cooking. We do like to eat though, so in order to avoid a trip through a drive-thru, I try to keep a few main ingredients prepped in the freezer.
I found a good deal on a #10 roll of ground beef this week and I wanted to make up several meal-prep packets that would make it easy to throw a good dinner together and on the table quickly. I was able to get 9 meals for 2 adults with plenty of leftovers for at least 5 more meals.
The seasonings, diced peppers and onions used are just a suggested amount. Use what ever seasonings and amounts you like to suit your taste.
Start with dicing the bell peppers and onions in 1/4 – 1/2″ pieces. This was the equivalent to 2 each of med/large size peppers and onions. It’s getting to the end of our growing season, so our peppers and onions are on the small side.
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We really like meatloaf, but invariably I forget to make it up in time to bake as a standard size loaf for dinner. For a quick and easy meal, I just made up 4 “meatloaf” patties, 2 for dinner one night with 2 for a leftover dinner a couple of days later. I decided we would have the meatloaf for dinner tonight, but the uncooked patties can also be frozen for another time.
Mix a 1/2 cup each of diced peppers and onions, plus a good shake each of salt, pepper, garlic powder, one egg and about a half sleeve of saltines (crushed) into #1 ½ ground beef and form into patties.
When ready to fix dinner, these cook in about 15-20 minutes in my NuWave Oven (or in a regular oven at 350° for 30-35 minutes) turning them over halfway through the cooking. Then, I like to add a dollop of spaghetti sauce to the top and bake an additional 5 to 10 minutes. (Or a spoonful of ketchup on each in a pinch.)
Recipe-Ready Browned Ground Beef
Next, I put about #3 of ground beef in a pan to brown. When it was browned about halfway through, I added about 1 cup each of the diced peppers and onions, and a little salt and pepper. Continue browning until the ground beef is cooked through. The peppers and onions will still be a little firm, but will cook more when cooked in a meal. When done, set aside to cool.
For the meatballs, I mixed in the remaining onions and peppers (there was about a 1/2 cup each left) into #2 of ground beef and seasoned with a little salt and pepper. To make the meatballs easily, I pat the ground beef mixture on a cutting board to 1 ” thick, then cut both directions with a knife so they are about 1″ squares. I gently rolled each one before adding to the skillet. Brown on all sides, until the meatballs are cooked through, about 20-30 minutes. (These can also be baked in a 350° oven for 30 minutes, if desired) Drain the meatballs on a paper towel lined baking sheet.
Packaging for the Freezer
We used our Food Saver to package the meat, as we feel it does a better job at protecting against freezer burn.
We divided the Recipe-Ready Browned Ground Beef into 3 packages. These can be added to spaghetti sauce or chili, used on French Bread Pizza, tacos, etc.
The Meatballs were divided into 2 bags, equivalent to 2 bags of frozen meatballs. (For reference, a store-bought 14 oz bag of frozen meatballs has 26 meatballs for 4 servings) These can be be used in several different sauces. One of our favorite dishes is Quick and Easy Swedish Meatballs served over egg noodles with a side salad.
The remaining #3 ½ of fresh uncooked meat was divided into 3 packages to use when one of us had plenty of time and wanted to be more creative in cooking.
For dinner tonight, I made mashed potatoes, and cut up salads while the Meatloaf Patties were cooking in the NuWave Oven.