One of my favorite meal time short cuts involves ground beef. At the beginning of every month I buy all of my meat for the month (we have a large upright freezer). When I get home I take my ground beef and determine how much of it will be used in which ways. I immediately start to brown some of it, allow it to cool and package into freezer bags at one pound per bag and freeze flat. The ground beef that doesn't get browned either goes into freezer bags one pound per bag (frozen flat) or it gets made into meatballs and a meatloaf. I fry the meatballs after I brown the ground beef (in the same pan) and finish cooking them in the oven. After they have cooled I put them on a cookie sheet in the freezer (single layer, not touching) overnight and into a gallon sized freezer bag the following day. The meatloaf is placed in a pan and wrapped well to decrease freezer burn and then placed in the freezer. I put the meatloaf in the refrigerator the night before I will cook it so it will defrost before it goes into the oven.
I find that it works well to do this all at once as you use many of the same items multiple times. It definitely takes a time investment upfront but I find that it's not a big deal as I'm usually working in the kitchen already, I will use the ground beef in that night's dinner, and the future time payout is huge! Now, when I'm short on time spaghetti and meatballs, tacos, pasta bake, hamburger helper, sloppy joes and many other dinners are quick to get on the table and I'm less likely to throw in a frozen pizza, serve PB&J on a tortilla (because I didn't have time to make bread either), or order take out!
What do you do for a meal time short cut at your house?
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