Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Freezer Cooking - Ground Beef

I bought two 5 lb. packs of ground beef this week and today was the day that I had to do something with it. What I like to do is cook ahead and freeze some meals. Not only does this save time, it's also a very frugal way to cook. I thought I would post about what all I did step-by-step so you can see how easily it all comes together. (By the way...for more great recipes and tips, head over to Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at Blessed With Grace.)

First, I decided that since I was planning to be in the kitchen most of the morning, I would bake some bread too. I threw all the ingredients for my honey wheat bread to mix and knead in the KitchenAid so it could be rising while I went on to the next thing.

I took out two large pots. In one, I put one 5 lb. pack of ground beef, covered it with water and turned the heat to high. In the other pot, I filled it with water, added salt and put over high heat to come to a boil.

I got out my food processor and chopped three onions. Two of them I used in the recipes and the other one I put in a small freezer bag and froze to use later.

When the water started warming in the ground beef pot, I began stirring to break up the meat. As the water in the other pot came to a boil, I stirred in 2 lb. of ziti and set the timer.

After the pasta and beef were cooked and drained, I used 1 lb. of the ground beef and assembled four pans of Baked Ziti, covered with aluminum foil, wrote on the top with a Sharpie and popped them in the freezer (we love Sister Shubert rolls and I keep the pans to use for this).

Then I put 2 lbs. of cooked meat in containers and put them in the freezer.

With the other 2 lb. of cooked beef, I made a pot of Sloppy Joes. When that cooled, I divided it into three containers and froze them.

By this time, the bread was ready for the oven, so I put them in to cook.

I opened the other pack of ground beef and set up my kitchen table with:

2 large bowls
a cookie sheet (with sides)
two cooking racks (inside the cookie sheet)
an oblong baking dish
Tupperware hamburger press and 4 containers
disposable gloves

In one bowl, I dumped all the ingredients for meatballs (using 2 lb. beef). In the other, I put the ingredients for meatloaf (using 2 lb. of beef). With the last pound of ground beef, I formed 4 hamburger patties and froze them.

Wearing the gloves, I mixed the meatloaf and formed two loaves, arranging them sideways in the baking dish. Then I mixed the meatballs, formed them into balls (about 3 dozen) and arranged them on the racks inside the cookie sheet.

As the bread finished baking, I put the meatballs and meatloaves in the oven for 25 minutes (this will half-cook the meatloaves and I'll finish cooking them when I take them out to defrost). After they cooled, the meatballs went into 3 freezer bags and the loaves were wrapped individually in aluminum foil to freeze.

So after a busy morning, I ended up with at least 15 meals in my freezer:

2 lb. cooked ground beef (to use for tacos or casseroles)
4 pans of Baked Ziti
3 bags of cooked meatballs (to use with spaghetti, BBQ sauce or brown gravy)
4 hamburger patties
3 containers of Sloppy Joes
2 meatloaves

Here are my recipes:

MEATBALLS
2 lb. ground beef
½ c. bread crumbs (or oatmeal)
¼ c. milk
¾ t. salt
¼ t. pepper
½ t. Worcestershire
1 onion, chopped
1 egg

Mix all ingredients; shape into 1 ½-Inch meatballs. Bake on racks on cookie sheet at 425 degrees for 25 minutes. Freeze in freezer bags.

MEATLOAF
2 lb. ground beef
¼ c. chopped onion
1 small can tomato sauce
¼ c. ketchup + extra for top
2 slices bread, crumbled
1 egg, beaten
salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste
brown sugar for topping

Mix all ingredients and form into loaves. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Take from the oven and drain grease. Wrap individually with foil. When ready to cook, defrost and spread additional ketchup on top & sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

BAKED ZITI
2 lb. dry ziti pasta
1 onion, chopped
1 lb. ground beef, cooked
2 jars/cans spaghetti sauce
Provolone, sliced (6 oz.)
Mozzarella Cheese, shredded (8 oz.)
2 T. grated Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta & drain. Saute' onion and then mix with pasta and spaghetti sauce. Divide into 4 aluminum baking pans. Arrange slices of provolone cheese on top and sprinkle with Mozzarella and Parmesan. Cover with foil. After defrosting, bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees, or until cheeses are melted.

SLOPPY JOES
2 lb ground beef, cooked
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 1/3 c. ketchup
1 ½ c. Coke (or other soft drink)
3 T. vinegar
2 T. Worstershire Sauce
2 t. honey
2 t. dry mustard (or 4 t. prepared)
2 t. garlic
Salt/Pepper to taste
1 T. cornstarch

Sauté onions and peppers in a little olive oil. Add all ingredients except cornstarch. Mix well. Simmer 15-20 minutes. Stir in cornstarch and cook another 5 minutes. Freeze in individual containers.

7 comments:

Lisa@BlessedwithGrace said...

Wow. I am in awe of you!! That is really easy. Once you think about it and see it written out. I mean, it is hard work, but look what you did. You made your life easier, for the future. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. I am sure that many women can get inspiration from your post.
I am glad you are participating in Tempt My Tummy Tuesday. Please, keep coming back, with all your great tips and ideas.

lana said...

WOW way to go! I am impressed and those are great recipes. Thanks so much for sharing today.

Live.Love.Eat said...

Hi there. Came by from TMTT. This is a great idea. I wished I did more of this or any of this. ha :)

Anonymous said...

Oh, this brings back memories. I had it all together once upon a time...believe it or not. Back when I had a husband, two young boys and boys sports to deal with, I would spend Saturday mornings cooking all my meals for the entire week. I found that I could deal with several meals cooking just as well as one. Made life a lot easier. The meals that were for the end of the upcoming week were frozen. Some, that did not freeze well, were eaten quickly. Must have been good as I never had leftovers. :) The crazy one

Lisa said...

Thanks for leaving a comment on my site. I am impressed you did much better than me, you got 15 meals out of only 10 pounds! I guess I need a little more practice!!

~Deidra~ said...

Thanks! I'm only feeding three, so if you have more in your family then my recipes wouldn't make 15 meals. The baked ziti helps because I only use a little meat in it.

Anonymous said...

I know this is an old post, but I just wanted to say that I used your sloppy joe recipe and it is freaking fantastic! So delicious! I did not have any Worchestershire sauce or green peppers, so I skipped them, but it is amazing! Going in my freezer right now, thank you!