Batch Cooking – The Ground Beef Edition

by Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom on January 4, 2011

Whenever I buy large quantities of ground beef, one of two things happens. One, I stashed the individual packages that I won’t be using that week into the freezer. Two, I brown it all at once and turn it into spaghetti sauce and/or taco meat…then once prepared, I use and/or freeze in meal size portions.  Three, I brown some, form some into meatballs or mini meatloaves.

I know I said two, but I guess it’s really three! ;)

This week, as I prepare to head out of town, I made 3 batches of spaghetti sauce and 2 meals worth of taco meat for my guys to enjoy over the next 2 weeks.

The last of my $.19 tomato paste ($1/2 coupon available on Coupons.com). And 2 Tbsp of my homemade taco seasoning!

And for spaghetti sauce, I like to make my own sauce with Italian seasonings, some garlic and onions with crushed tomatoes. And I never forget a pinchful of sugar when making my own sauce!

What do you do with ground beef when you buy a bunch on sale?! What’s your favorite way to use it up?!

{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Deb January 4, 2011 at 3:03 pm

I do all the stuff you are suggesting, but I also make meatloaves to stash in my freezer. I have a recipe for the Best Meatloaf EVER (and it only has about 3 ingredients), on my blog – http://notinadequate.com/recipes-2/. Check it out, it is really delicious.

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Nina January 4, 2011 at 7:45 pm

Hi Deb,
I just made stuffed peppers with a similar filling and they were moist and delicious! I added: garlic/onion powder, Worcestershire sauce and a small amount of tomato sauce. But, it was the stuffing that really made them…the first time I have used stuffing. I usually use rice. Thanks for your recipes!
Nina

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Tricia January 4, 2011 at 3:32 pm

Love, love batch cooking! And I am going to have to try your homemade taco seasoning. Thanks.

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Stephanie January 4, 2011 at 4:46 pm

I am just getting into batch cooking. We purchase our beef by the side, so I currently have 40 lbs of ground beef in my freezer, along with 5 pkgs of hamburgers, and the rest of the beef was butchered into steaks, roasts, and the like. Since that has taken over about 3/4 of my large freezer, I am limited with what I can cook for the freezer. When I do a big cooking day though, I tend to make casserole fillings that are ready to go & packaged in one or two zip bags for a quick dinner.

My 2 favorites are to pre-make the filling for stuffed peppers (ground beef, rice, tomatoes, and spices) and shepherd’s pie (browned grown beef, peas & carrots in 1 bag, mashed potatoes in another). Quick & simple, and the bags don’t take up a ton of room.

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pamela January 4, 2011 at 8:05 pm

Hi Stephanie,
I would love to know where you purchase your side of beef from. I’m in Colorado and wold love a source for my bottomless growing boys! Thanks for sharing.

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Linda B January 4, 2011 at 4:52 pm

I need to invest a deep freezer !

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Saidah @ AProverbsWife.com January 4, 2011 at 6:11 pm

I love bulk cooking. It makes my life easier. I use every eye on the stove and up to (4) 9×13 pans when cooking something in the oven. I have a pictorial here: http://aproverbswife.com/2009/03/freezer-mealsground-turkey.html

Keep up the good work. I love your recipes and the pictures.

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Jan January 4, 2011 at 6:23 pm

2 questions- how much ground beef do you cook at once and what kind of pan do you use?
also how do you get the ground beef to come out crumbly- mine always comes out chunky?

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kristin January 5, 2011 at 12:38 am

hi jan,

use a potato masher to break up the ground beef

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Sherry January 5, 2011 at 9:50 am

I pulse mine in the food processor. It comes out great.

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Bunny February 20, 2013 at 5:54 pm

if you stir the meat constantly while cooking, it gets very crumbly.

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Samantha January 4, 2011 at 6:41 pm

Wow what a great idea! I normally just throw it in the freezer until an idea strikes me, although the meatballs I made last time, were delicious and just as easy as making cookies!

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Sonshine January 4, 2011 at 7:30 pm

With having a family of 7, I am always buying ground beef in bulk! I usually will buy 15-20 lbs at once and then set out to get in the freezer for some quick meals.

Here is how I divide the meat up into meal portions for the freezer:
1. Make burgers with the raw meat place wax or parchment paper between the burgers and stick in a freezer bag and freeze them. Each freezer bag has the number I need for one meal.
2. Make meatloaf with the raw meat and flash freeze the mini loaves before sticking in a freezer bag in the freezer.
3. Make meatballs, cook them and then flash freeze on a cookie sheet and then transfer to a freezer bag.
4. Just brown the ground beef and put in 1-2 lb portions in freezer bags so it is just a quick pull from the freezer and thaw for whichever meal of spaghetti, chili, goulash, tacos and sloppy joes that I have planned on the menu.

I tried making up all the ground beef into actual meals before sticking it in the freezer and I found that I wasn’t using up the meat or wasn’t in the mood for that particular dish when the time came in the menu so just doing up the ground beef plain and sticking in the freezer gives me some flexibility I wouldn’t have otherwise. :)

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Rachel Wallace January 4, 2011 at 7:45 pm

I have been cooking and freezing my ground beef for years because it saves on cooking time when preparing meals. I don’t put seasoning in it and will have to try that now. But I always drain it and rinse it to get the extra fat off. I have several recipes that call for browned ground beef and it is always ready to go!

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Cyn January 5, 2011 at 10:59 am

I do this too- I usually get one or more of the 5lb chubs, then brown it with a little onion finely minced, and a dash of steak seasoning. Then I drain and cool, and put into 1cup portions in zipper bags. That is the perfect amount for tacos, burritos, hamburger helper, spaghetti, shepherd’s pie, stuffed peppers, etc, or 2 bags for a big pot of chili.

I like doing it this way because it’s quicker and easier than making a bunch of meals at once, and I haven’t committed myself to a specific meal. I can make dinner in 20 minutes or less on a weekday with those bags.

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Deidra January 4, 2011 at 8:11 pm

I blogged about ground beef batch cooking with recipes here:http://deidrasheart.blogspot.com/2008/10/freezer-cooking-ground-beef.html

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Meghan January 4, 2011 at 8:51 pm

Erin,

SO GLAD I found your site! I buy ground beef in warehouse packs, too, and usually break them down into 1lb. (ish) portions and freeze them in Ziplocs. It’s rare that I take the time to pre-cook taco meat, tomato sauce or meatballs, but I am thinking it might be worth a try. We are only a family of 3 (with #4 on the way), but once my due date creeps closer, this might be just the option I need to keep my sanity while juggling a newborn and a toddler!

PS – Homemade taco seasoning ROCKS. SO much healthier than store-bought, and virtually no indigestion! (Something about that store-bought stuff just doesn’t sit well with me.)

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Doris January 4, 2011 at 9:31 pm

I buy 5 to 10 lbs at a time and put it all in a big pot and cover it with water. Bring it to a boil and cook, stirring to break up the chunks, until it’s no longer pink. Drain it into a big colander (catch the yuky water and dispose of it somewhere besides your sink). Spread your cooked ground beef on cookie sheets to cool. Place about one and 3/4 cup in a sandwich zip lock bag and spread flat. Stack your bags in a large zip lock bag and put in the freezer. Now you have a pound of browned ground beef (with all the fat removed) in each bag to use however you wish. And it doesn’t take up much room in your freezer.

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Wendy January 4, 2011 at 9:39 pm

We love pasties at my house it’s a great way to use up a couple pounds.

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jan January 4, 2011 at 11:18 pm

when I precook ground beef to freeze, I cook it plain to doctor up later and put it in freezer bags I can flatten. This way the “hard part’s” done and can be jazzed up. (Spag sauce, tacos, sloppy joes, chili, soup, shep pie…)
For patties, I use those lids from 8oz marg tubs. Perfect size for portions and keeps them from freezing together in the bags. When frozen, they just pop off the plastic lids. The lids are ‘top-rack dishwasher safe’ and can be reused for a long time.

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Christie January 4, 2011 at 11:55 pm

Just today I picked up 40 lbs of ground beef I found on markdown! So timely!

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ATL Cook January 5, 2011 at 1:02 am

i buy ground sirloin 7% fat at Sam’s Club. Always look for a package of patties marked down.
I brown some with diced onion and minced garlic and freeze. Make meatloaf and bake in my silicone muffin pan. Freeze and each one is a serving. Make meatloaf and bake in 4 mini silicone pans and freeze. Meatloaf can be crumbled into tortillas, a slice on a Thomas thin bun makes a low carb sandwich. I leave some as patties. They thaw quick and can be used for other things.

Freeze whole ready to use bell peppers and bag filling separately.

I have about 4 sets of Tupperware patty makers. Most came from the Good Will. Keep ready made patties or make my own. Cooking for one requires special strategies. Allergic to tomatoes so my recipes are different than most.

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sherrie January 5, 2011 at 6:11 am

I always shape into patties,throw into freezer. When I need them all I do is run cold water over the foil,place in skillet w/ lid on low until they thaw(5 min.) Once they thaw,cook as you normally would. I also do the meatballs,freeze on cookie sheet ,put in freezer bag that way you take out only what you will need.

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Julie January 5, 2011 at 11:22 am

I brown it all & make chili, vegetable soup & lasagna filling. All three make double batches & I freeze it all. 6 meals, DONE! :)

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Jennifer January 5, 2011 at 3:38 pm

I usually make sloppy joes with it and have recently started making a Taco Spaghetti that is really good. Pretty much is just spaghetti, but with the taco seasoning in it so it adds a little different flavor.

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sandy January 7, 2011 at 12:46 pm

hello I notice a trend in freezing, the use of Ziploc bags (which I have used also) but I have been using the Food Saver bags, does anyone use them? Ziploc does have one that you can use an item that goes into a hole in the bag that draws the air out also has anyone tried that for their freezer.
Wow I wished I had been where that 40 lbs of hamburger was bought, boy what you can do with that & the price has gone like everything has. You did good girl.

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de January 10, 2011 at 5:51 am

check out the archives of frozenassets yahoo group for some easier ways

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Beth January 12, 2011 at 6:32 am

I do batch freezing too. I sometimes use my crock pot to brown up the beef and a potato masher. Drain and divide into individual meals. I use onion in all my ground beef. I do this with sausage too, however, I like sausage cooked very well so I use the stove top method. In the summer, I buy 2-3 family packs of boneless chicken when it’s on sale and divide all of that into different marinades and grill. Slice it and put in freezer bags.
Thanks for all the extra ways to batch freeze.

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