4.25.2011

Freezer Cooking: Meatball Madness

My family loves homemade meatballs, but I despise making them, seriously, I can't handle touching raw meat.  When I actually give in and make them, I make tons and fill my freezer.  Over the weekend when I ran to the grocery store to pick up the makings of our Easter dinner, lean ground beef was buy one get one free.  Ground turkey and organic spinach was also on sale... my three main ingredients, score!

I try to sneak some extra veggies into pretty much everything, in the past I've used frozen chopped spinach but since spinach will hopefully grow in our garden this year, I wanted to try making it with fresh.  Don't they look yummy?
Want to stock your freezer up?  Here's my recipe:
  • 3 lbs of 93% lean ground beef (I prefer organic, grass-fed)
  • 1 package ground turkey (I find it in 20 oz packages by me)
  • 11 oz organic baby spinach, chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 1-2 cups oatmeal
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 3 Tablespoons chopped garlic
  • salt, pepper, basil and oregano to taste
Mash it all together in a huge bowl.  Turns out JuneBug didn't mind doing this at all and happily formed most of the meatballs for me!  I make them about 1/8th of a cup and bake for 15 minutes in a 450 oven.  Since I like to cook once and eat multiple times, I kept about 20 of them warm in some pasta sauce while our noodles cooked.  The other 140 that we made were cooled and then consumed all my Tupperware containers in groups of 20 (an amount that I have determined feeds all 5 of us with a box of whole wheat penne, leaving one serving left for IronFish for his lunch the next day).

Mondays in our house are typically pasta night, alternating between cheese raviolis and penne with meatballs.  On meatball days I toss the frozen meatballs into my crock pot with marinara sauce (or whatever pasta sauce you like) and leave it on low all day.  If the sauce seems to get too dry add a bit of water occasionally.  The house smells awesome and all I have to do is boil water for the whole wheat penne!

Remember how I said the meat was buy one get one free?  I actually doubled this recipe but when I ran out of containers for my meatballs, I still had enough to make 3 meatloafs!  I freeze my meatloaf uncooked, so I didn't take a picture of it.  I'll share that recipe too:
  • Whatever is left of meatball mix (I probably had 2.5lbs of it)
  • 2-4 diced tomatoes or 1-2 cans of chopped tomatoes (I'm trying to use up my inventory of canned tomatoes and move to using fresh or jarred... whole other story)
  • 1/2 cup of parmigiana cheese (or more if you like)
I try not to use disposable plastic bags or containers or anything that will end up in a landfill.  I like to put my meatloaf in glass bread pans but they don't have lids and I only have two, so when I have to break down and use something disposable, I try to still go as environmentally as possible.  I've found a layer of biodegradable parchment and then a layer of recycled aluminum foil work:
The best part about meatloaf in my freezer is easily tossing it into my crock pot in the morning and letting it go until it's dinner time!  When frozen in a pan, just put the pan straight into the crock pot and put a bit of water around the pan in the crock pot.  Works like a charm!  In the past whenever I made meatloaf, even if it wasn't frozen, it always seemed to take 10 times longer than I thought it would to cook all the way through.  Ever since I learned the crock pot trick, our meatloaf is always ready when we are for dinner (takes about 6-8 hours on low, but I have also done it in 4 hours on high).

I spent $28 on the meat, turkey, spinach and onion ($13 in savings).  I probably used $5 worth of supplies I had in my pantry already.  Eleven meals for five people for $3 each is pretty good in my opinion.  Whole wheat pasta is about $1 a box here and I usually add a veggie as a side to meatloaf, maybe potatoes or rice also bringing each dinner to $5 or less and there is almost always enough left overs for a lunch for my husband.  I'm happy!

I'll be linking up to these Monday parties!
Peace be with you,

3 comments:

Kelly said...

I love freezer cooking on the cheap! Thanks for the great ideas and recipe.

Jill said...

Meatballs are my daughter's favourite - and she loves getting in there with her hands to roll and squeeze them!! :)

Thanks for linking to a Round Tuit!
Hope you have a great week!
Jill @ Creating my way to Success
http://www.jembellish.blogspot.com/

Chocolate Drool and Kisses said...

Looks and sounds very yummy, I am so going to try these my little guy loves meat balls and would gobble these up! Thanks for linking up!
Crystal

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