Confession: I don’t eat red meat but I do love ground beef. With a diehard carnivore in residence, ground beef is absolutely essential to our frugal lifestyle. I stalk prices, lie in wait and when ground beef hits a certain low, I pounce. I try to buy at least ten pounds of ground beef, 80 percent lean, and then I go to town. I make Scarlett’s Meatballs, Me-too Meatloaf, shape and freezer burgers just to start with. Yes, ground beef is my savior in my frugal kitchen even if I don’t eat it myself.
Scarlett’s Meatballs. The story behind this recipe is one of my most treasured cooking memories. My six-year-old grand daughter, Scarlett Rose, loves cooking in the kitchen with me, it is her most cherished and requested Nana-Granddaughter activity. About a year ago, we were dithering in the kitchen and decided to make meatballs. I started with ground beef but Scarlett wanted to add in a bit of ground pork and the recipe took off from there. Once done, she presented my partner with an amuse bouche, a one bite treat. She sprinkled the top of the meatball with finely grated parm cheese and minced parsley, quite the flourish for a six year old. My partner dutifully took a bite, paused and in a shocked voice, asked for another, and then yet another, they were just that good. To this day, whenever Scarlett Rose comes to visit, my partner asks in a hopeful voice if we are going to make meatballs. Aw. So sweet. You can find the recipe for Scarlett’s Meatballs here.
Meanwhile, lets talk meatloaf. The quintessential, American comfort food. I always seem to make and freeze mine and it works great for that meal when you have no time and less imagination. It is my go-to, I have no CLUE what I am making for dinner Bob, what do YOU want?
Meatloaf in my house is nearly always made in advance, when I am stocking up on ground beef. That’s when I make mine and it is saved for one of those ‘days’ when I either have no idea what I want to make for dinner for Bob asks for meatloaf. I always keep one in the freezer, just in case. Meatloaf is one of the top ten meals I keep in my repertoire and it never fails me.
2 pounds ground beef, at least 80/20
Several slices old/stale bread
1/3 cup milk or beef broth
1 large egg
Fistful of diced onion, any kind will do
Couple of tablespoons of minced garlic cloves
Garlic salt, pepper
Soak the bread in the milk or broth until very mushy, stir in the egg. Mix in the ground beef and onions. Season with the garlic and spices. Shape into a loaf and wrap well, freeze.
Alternate: You can mold half of the ground beef mix in a loaf shape and then layer slices of bacon over top and seal with the rest of the beef. I’ve also used leftover ham, prosciutto, even slices of deli meat. You can also layer in cheese with or without the meat and then seal with the rest of the ground beef. If you like spicy, you can even layer in sliced jalapenos as well. The option here gives the diner a surprise inside when you slice into the meatloaf. Also a great way to use up extra meat and cheese.
Sneaky healthy alternate: Shred up a half of cup of carrots and mix into the meatloaf. No one will never know the difference. You can also smother the top with leftover mashed potatoes once the meatloaf is thawed and cooked.
To bake: Frozen solid, place the meatloaf in an oven that has been preheated to 350-F deg for 90 minutes. Thawed, you can cut the bake time in half, just 45 minutes.