Ground Beef (or turkey, chicken, pork)
One of the most versatile meats in my books, I can prepare ground beef so many different ways, we could eat it every single night for a week and each meal would be different. Depending on the time of year, (yes, the season makes a difference to me – I live up in Northern Ontario where it snows for a few months of the year which means I can’t BBQ) I’ll pre-make hamburgers and freeze them in a single layer on cookies sheets. Once they are frozen, I’ll take them off the cookie sheet and store them in a ziplock freezer bag until I’m ready to use them. I’ll use the same patties for hot hamburgers or if I’m in a pinch and need some ground beef, they are in perfect portions and have a delicious flavour. (Click here for the recipe I use for the ultimate hamburgers).
I’ll use the same recipe to make meatballs. The packages of ground beef come in 5-7 lbs at a time. I’ll use the entire package of beef to make a full cookie sheet of meatballs. I’ll freeze the meatballs in a single layer on the cookie sheet and once frozen, transfer them to a freezer bag. Since they are all frozen individually, I can take out the number of meatballs I need for a meal. My favorite cheat for my meatballs? Before heading out for work in the morning, I’ll place a bunch of frozen meatballs in my slow cooker with a can/jar of spegetti sauce. Make sure there is enough sauce so it covers all of the meatballs in the slow cooker. When I get home I have meatballs for meatball subs. I reserve the sauce and any extra meatballs for a quick and easy spegetti dinner the following day. The best part of this is the meatballs stay round and the flavour from the meatballs also infuses the spegetti sauce so it tastes like home made sauce. Your family doesn’t need to know how simple it was to impress them.
Around the holidays, I always keep meatballs readily available in case I have last minute dinner guests come. I’ll use my meatballs to make my sweet’n sour meatballs – a recipe that has been in the family for generations. (see recipe section)
The simplest way to deal with large quantities of ground beef is to just separate it into individual servings – I use the smaller sandwich size ziplock bags again to do this. If you have extra time on your hands, try cooking the meat then separating and freezing into individual serving sizes. This comes in handy when you’re making slopping joes, chilli, tacos, hamburger helper, stuffed peppers, or any other meal that needs cooked ground beef. You just pull from the freezer, defrost in the fridge over night and you’re one step closer to dinner.
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