For many years as my children were growing up I was a single working mom, so I not only couldn't afford to go out to eat or fast food, I didn't want my children to grow up eating that way. I wanted us to have family time around the table and for our meals to be nourishing, tasteful and healthy. Dinner time was mandetory at our house and a lot of their friends always showed up too, so it was a time for all of us to enjoy each other and for other children to enjoy some family time.
Hamburger was a mainstay in our diet, and so I figured out a lot of different ways to use it. We usually had something made with hamburger at least 2 to 3 times a week. I found several ways to make quick and easy meals so I didn't feel so much pressure when I got home from work and meals could be on the table in 30 minutes or less, plus I still had time to help with homework.
My favorite tip is to buy hamburger in bulk. I buy it in huge packages and usually at least 5 lbs or more. When I get it home, I brown all 5 lbs. when I start to cook the first meal. I then take out 4 lbs., place in a bowl and when it is cool put in the freezer in 1lb. freezer bags. This is the basis for 4 more meals in a hurry.
The secret to having the meat taste freshly cooked is to only brown it just past the pink stage. Do not cook it all the way before freezing.
#1. Meal - Hamburger Casserole
I showed you this one a while back and it is a real crowd pleaser and serves a ton of people for a really small price.
1 lb. ground chuck crumbled and browned.
1 med. onion diced and cooked with the meat the last few minutes to infuse the flavor and soften the onion.
Sprinkle both generously with garlic salt while cooking.
1 pkg. elbow macaroni cooked and drained
2 sm. cans tomato sauce
1/2 can water
3/4 pkg shredded cheese. I always use the 3 cheese variety.
Cook the macaroni in boiling water while you brown the meat and onion in a skillet. Drain the macaroni well, then add the meat mixture. Stir in the tomato sauce and water. Mix it all together well. Place into large casserole dish and cover with the cheese. Cover with foil (be sure to spray your foil with Pam or some kind of non stick spray so it won't stick to the cheese when baking.)
Place in a 350 oven and bake for approximately 30 to 40 minutes. When you can see the bottom all bubbly and you are sure it has been heated all the way through and the cheese is melted and all gooy, then you are done. Makes 8 generous servings. I usually fix some garlic bread and a tossed salad to go with it.
#2 Meal- Tacos
Warm up one package of your cooked ground meat, add your favorite Taco seasoning, and serve with shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, shredded cheese, chopped onions and refried beans. Some spanish rice is also a great side that's easy to make while you are getting everything else ready.
#3 Meal - Spaghetti
Warm up one pkg of ground meat, add 1 can tomato sauce, chopped onions, garlic salt, 1 pkg. spaghetti seasoning and any left over chopped tomatoes and onions from the taco dinner. If none leftover, then add a few freshly chopped. Serve with salad and garlic bread
Meal # 4 - Stuffed Green Peppers
Add 1/2 can cream of mushroom soup (do not delute), chopped onion and some garlic salt to 1 pkg of browned meat. Fill cleaned Green Peppers with the mixture, place in a casserole dish. Add 1/3c. water to the 1/2can remaining soup, mix well, then pour over the peppers. Bake in oven until meat and peppers are completely done. 350 degrees for approx. 30 minutes. Serve with a baked potato (they can cook in the oven with the peppers, then finish them off in the micro.) or rice pilaf and salad.
Meal #5 - Enchiladas
I love to make enchiladas, I call them the garbage meal since you can use any kind of meat you want, chicken, beef, shrimp or pork. The other fillings can be as varied as you like. Today I am making some really plain ones using ground beef, chopped green chilis, onions and cheese.
Add a small can of chopped green chilis to one of your browned beef packages and cook until done.
Add some chopped onions, shredded cheese and anything else you like. I usually add chopped black olives, but I was out this time.
Then cover tightly with foil that has been sprayed so it doesn't stick to the cheese. Bake in 350 oven for approx 35 to 45 minutes or until you can see the sauce bubbling in the bottom of the pan. Serve with Spanish rice, refried beans or salad. You can have condiments of sour cream and guacamole on the side for an extra special dish.
Now obviously we had a lot of different meals mixed in with these, however these were just a few of the really fast and easy, yet nourishing meals that we enjoyed with our browned meat. I know you have a dozen or more meals of your own, but how about Chili as another fast and easy meal using your browned meat.
Add a can of Cream of Mushroom soup to the browned meat and serve over egg noodles for another fabulous meal.
I think the most important thing is to have a good meal on the table in a short amount of time that doesn't have you feeling all flustered. Something that you can have in the oven or simmering on the stove while you change clothes and get ready for a nice evening at home and allow all the stress of the day to go away. Time to sit down with the family, visit, catch up on the days events, and eating a nourishing meal all at the same time is the best reward to the end of the day. I didn't even mind cleaning up the kitchen because that was the time that I finished helping the children with their homework and it also gave us time for some one on one. Best time of day. I also kept that crockpot going constantly too, but then that's another story.
So, how do you juggle all the stress of work and keeping up with your family plus stay on budget?
I am joining Michael @ Designs by Gollum for Foodie Friday