I’ve been thinking about doing some bulk cooking for a long time. Years, as a matter of fact. Maybe even a decade.
I have a “once a month” cookbook. I read about it on blogs. But I always feel so overwhelmed at the idea of spending an entire day in the kitchen, that I give up before I begin.
But last week, when I was making my meal plan for the month, I stumbled upon an idea to cook 12 pounds of ground beef all at once and freeze it to make a dozen meals. Finally, this made sense to me AND it seemed doable.
I decided to start with 5 pounds of ground beef. I bought this bad boy:
This is really the most economical way to buy hamburger meat in the store where I normally shop. But I hate buying this big package because, quite frankly, I can’t stand dealing with raw meat.
I don’t like the smell. I don’t like handling it. So, when I buy this big package, I usually ask my husband to cut it into 1 lb. portions and freeze it for me.
But cooking it all at once made it seem more manageable.
This is how I made it into eight meals in one hour.
1. I divided the roll of hamburger into five 1-lb. sections. I put two pounds in a bowl, one pound in a small pan to cook and two pounds in a large pan to brown the ground beef.
2. I added the ingredients in this recipe to make mini meatloaves and hamburgers. I just doubled the recipe. I figured that meatloaf is basically the same thing as hamburgers. It’s just cooked a different way.
3. One recipe was supposed to make eight servings. By doubling it, I determined I would have 16 servings. I made five mini meatloaves, which would make one meal for our family. I formed the rest into 10 hamburger patties, which would make two more meals for our family of five.
4. I put the mini meatloaves and hamburger patties on plates and put them in the freezer while I did everything else. This made it easier for me to put them in storage bags later because they would hard and didn’t mush together.
5. I also used my large scoop and this hamburger shaper to make the hamburgers. This is my secret tip to avoid touching the raw meat as much as possible.
Meanwhile, all of that other hamburger was done browning.
6. I drained all of the grease and put it back in the pans. I added taco seasoning to the smaller pan. I froze this in two .5 pound portions. I realize this isn’t much meat and might not work for many larger families. But we never eat an entire pound of taco meat at a meal. Two of our children don’t like taco meat and I’m lucky to get them to eat a spoonful of meat. Instead, they load up on cheese and sour cream. So, we can stretch one pound of taco meat to make two meals.
7. I divided the other two pounds from the larger pan into three portions. Most recipes call for 1 lb. of ground beef. But you can really stretch your meat by using less than that.
8. I put two of those portions in ziplock bags and labeled them for the freezer. I plan to use one for either hamburger soup or chili. The other one I will use as a topping for homemade pizza. (That’s two more dinners.)
9. I used the final portion to pre-make chili cornbread squares. I made the recipe in a small square disposable pan. I covered it with cling wrap, then a layer of aluminum foil and finally put the whole pan in a 1-gallon freezer bag. I hate freezer burn, so this is my 3-layer protection plan, which always works for me.
It took me just over one hour to do all of this. I was able to clean all of the dishes at once and clean up all of that raw-meat mess, which I don’t like.
I also was happy that I was able to stretch the ground beef to make more recipes than I usually would if I opened 1 lb. packages. And I could freeze the mini meatloaves and hamburger patties in portions that were just right for our family. We won’t waste nearly as much food this way.
I realize that many families would eat much more meat than this at each meal, and that’s fine! It’s easy to double or triple the amount of meat used and still get a lot of bulk cooking done in a short period of time.