Beyond Chili, Burgers and Spaghetti Sauce: How to use up the Ground Beef in your Freezer
You know you’ve done it. You wander by the meat section and ground beef is on sale- so you snap up a bunch. You congratulate yourself on your budget-savvy shopping score, go home, portion the meat and tuck it away in the freezer.
As the weeks go on, you may be daunted with the amount still in your freezer. If the thought of making another spaghetti sauce is not pleasing, here are some out-of-the box ideas to use up that beef in a way that your family will look forward to!
Kids love the bite-sized, hand-held prospects of meatballs. They are very easy to make as well, using milk, breadcrumbs, onions and seasoning. They freeze well too; if you line cookie sheets with parchment paper, place them on the sheets, wrap and freeze.
You’re not limited to the typical sauces either. A little beef broth or consommé with mushrooms, onions and sour cream gives you a nice Stroganoff sauce. A tub of herb and garlic cream cheese, poured into the pan while the meatballs are almost cooked makes a lovely, flavourful, creamy sauce that coats. Another one of my favourite is to throw frozen meatballs into the crockpot with a bottle of BBQ sauce.
Meatloaf (wrongly in my opinion) has gotten an unflattering reputation. As comfort foods go, though, this one is a sure winner.
The key is in the ingredients. Take your ground beef (usually a pound or so) and mash in a bowl with about a cup or two of fresh bread crumbs ( I usually just tear up day old bread), an egg and about a half cup of milk. What is really yummy is to add about a cup or so of salsa, chopped onions, cilantro and cheese. Combine these, make into a loaf and then pour some more salsa and cheese on top of the loaf. Bake for about 45 mins-60 mins. Mash some potatoes and you are practically opening a diner.
No- we are not talking about the junk food variety served at fast-food counters and local road houses everywhere.
Cut tortillas into small pieces and brush with olive oil. Bake until they are crispy. Take the chips and add browned ground beef, cheese, black beans and as many vegetables as you think you can sneak by your kids. Bake until cheese is melted. Serve with salsa and sour cream on the side.
There is nothing more welcoming on a cold night (which is closer than we’d care to think) like a pot of hamburger soup, a staple in my house. Also, leftovers freeze well and make for a much-anticipated lunch in the middle of the workday.
Although there are many recipes and variations, the one I use involves four cans of soup (split between consommé and tomato soup), a big can of low-sodium diced tomatoes, chopped onions, carrots and celery (altogether about 2-3 cups), 2 or 3 cloves of garlic, chopped, 1-2 pounds of browned ground beef and a couple of cups of water (or more or less, depending on thickness).
Brown the meat and vegetables. Combine everything in a pot, and simmer for a few hours to let the flavours mix. Serve with crusty bread. Delicious!
Kids love macaroni. Kids love cheeseburgers. It stands to reason that kids would love them combined into one dish.
You can even make this with boxed macaroni and cheese, to save time. Cook the macaroni to package instructions, drain and place in baking dish. To make the sauce, put equal parts milk and shredded cheese (about a cup of each makes a nice sauce, but you can experiment with consistency) in a saucepan over low-medium heat. Mix until blended and add chopped cooked veggies. Layer browned ground beef and sauce over the macaroni and bake until browned (probably about 30 mins).