Thursday, March 1, 2012

5lbs. Ground Round - 5 Fast Easy Meals

With gas prices rising again and the economy in general, I keep seeing how so many friends are really trying to save every way that they can.  Eating at home is one way to definitely save.

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.

 Ladle a generous amount of enchilada sause, (I am using red or you could use green) on a flour tortilla and spoon on some of the meat mixture.

Add some chopped onions, shredded cheese and anything else you like.  I usually add chopped black olives, but I was out this time.

 Roll up and place in baking dish and continue until all of the meat mixture is finished, usually around 8 enchiladas.  Cover all of the enchiladas with the remaining enchilada sauce.

 Cover with a generous amount of shredded cheese.

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


  1. This is a really great idea, Marty, and one I practice often! Thanks for the recipe ideas!

  2. These are all delicious, quick and easy family favorites! You made it look so simple because you're organized and made sure you had the ingredients on hand. This is a great post especially for young working mothers.
    You were such a good mother and homemaker, your attitude is wonderful. Regular family-time around the table is so what we need so badly in this crazy world today!

  3. Those dishes are all mainstays at our house! Must be because I grew up with a Single Mom too! We had to stretch our dollar Faaaaaarrrr! Dinner time was time to catch up on the day and was my favorite (but not the dishes). Thanks Marty for the refresher!
    XO Cindy

  4. I did the same thing for many years when my children were growing up. The only thing I did differently was to brown some onion and celery into the mix. It gave it a good flavor and could be used in all the same ways you mentioned. Being single moms and raising a family isn't easy and you do look for anyway you can to save and still provide a good healthy meal for them. We rarely ever ate out. I think busy moms will appreciate your recipes.

  5. Great ideas! I stretched my food budget till it cried most of the time when raising a family, but then we probably ate healthier back then also. Yes - I kept a crock pot going a lot also. Ground beef is not inexpensive anymore.:(

  6. Neat post. Great ideas.

    - The Tablescaper

  7. I buy the real expensive ground round 96% fat free.


  8. These all look really tasty and hearty! My mom used to make the one with cream of mushroom soup over noodles.

  9. You have to do what you have to do ! I was raised on a farm and taught to make meals from scratch and how to make them stretch from one meal to the next and we didnt have fast food and always ate at the kitchen table as a family and disgust the days goings on ! When the kids were young we always had meals at the kitchen table and rarely went out or had fast food. Papa and I now as there is the two of us do eat out or fast food once in a blue moon and I try to have our suppers at least 3 times a week at the kitchen table other times its the good old TV trays lol but when the kids come down to visit its always family meals at the table ! Good post . Have a good day !

  10. I come from a large family and my mom was always making meals with hamburg. We loved it. Of course I still use a lot of it today..These will go in my recipe box..Yummy!!!

  11. Thanks for so many great ideas for recipes using ground beef. I get into a rut with what to make each night and we are always rushing around.

  12. The enchiladas sound great Marty, I love the little cans of chiles:@)

  13. Yum~I love this!

    Glory to God in the highest my friend! God has answered a portion of our prayers.

    Alyssa and I will be seeing all of our dear friends tomorrow.
    I remember it was Claim Jumpers. But can't recall the time.

    See you soon. XO

  14. Hi Marti. Just wanted to say thanks for this post. Not only do your enchiladas look delish and something I am going to have to try, but your post brought back memories of my childhood. I grew up in a single parent household where hamburger was a staple meat for meals in our house too. Although we were poor mom always knew how to make the most out of what we had. Those were good times though. Today my family uses ground turkey as a staple. It has less fat and is supposed to be better for you. We have gotten used to the difference in flavor but occasionally we go all out and have "real" burger. LOL.

  15. Those recipes look really good. That first recipe looks the best. I'm a sucker for anything with cheese and macaroni in it.

  16. I am copying over all these recipes, Marty. They are just like I like- quick and easy, rib-warming and good! Thanks- xo Diana

  17. Looks good! What time should we be there?

  18. Great ideas! the best part, how easy they are! I'm gonna try them for sure!

  19. I would never have thought to cook the ground beef then freeze it....very handy to have...I thought about something I always used to make with ground beef that was delicious and they don't make it anymore....Rice a Roni Stroganoff...we loved that served with some fresh green beans...I don't know what they stopped making it....and much like you I can make a million different things with a can of tuna....Thanks for allyour good ideas...Sue.

  20. I never thought to freeze ground beef after I cooked it! Thanks!!!!! These are all great recipes and some I haven't tried yet. Have a GREAT weekend. XO, Pinky

  21. I'm going to have to try a couple of your recipes - they sound delicious.

    Please stop by, I'm running a Give-Away - take a look! :)


  22. Wow, every one of these meals looks mouthwatering. Thanks for all of the recipes. Those enchiladas are calling my name.

  23. Loved this post!! Thank you!

  24. Marty, thank you so much for sharing these easy recipes. I also cook every day and we rarely eat out.
    That is the way I grew up, so that is the way we have raised our kids. It is so much healthier to make your meals at home and dinner time, when finally everybody gets home from work and school, is my favorite time of the day. Thank you again, Marty!

  25. Marty muchas gracias por el aporte de comidas rápidas, de verdad que cuando una trabaja y llega en la noche aveces no sabe ni que hacer para la cena, yo a veces salgo del trabajo y de camino ya voy pensando en qué hacer de cena. Saludos

  26. What a great post for busy Mom's (and everyone else, too!), Marty!! You provided great tips & great meals. Thanks for sharing.

  27. YUMMY, I just made tacos like that last night. Now the hamburger casserole looks delish!

  28. Thank you for the ideas! I've been wondering how to make enchiladas since my ds15 told me how much he liked them. Piece of cake!

  29. OK! Browning all the meat before freezing! HOW STINKIN' smart is that!? It never occurred to me! Thank you for the tip! I love your recipes. I kind of make the same hamburger casserole... but I add a can of mushrooms and some frozen peas. Sounds good right now as a matter of fact! :)

    See you in a few! :)

  30. All sound yummy! I'm trying the enchiladas for sure.

  31. Hi Marty,
    I haven't visited in awhile, but am so glad I did! Enjoyed your post. We sit down together almost every nite w/a homecooked meal and I make several of the same things you mentioned/showed. Great ideas!


  32. Hi there Marty, I made the enchaladas and both my husband and myself LOVED them! Thanks for the great post! Stephanie

  33. Weeknight cooking is the bane of my existence! These are terrific ideas, thanks so much for sharing!

  34. Great ideas Marty. I would like to try the hamburger casserole. That would be several meals for just the two of us. I make my enchiladas like you do, but use chili. Will try the enchilada sauce. Thanks for the tip on spraying the foil so it will not stick to the cheese.

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