I only buy hamburger in family packs. It is not worth my time to cook one pound at a time. I don't enjoy washing dishes and that would mean that I have to clean 5 skillets. That is not for me. So, when family packs are on sale, I stock up!
I used to buy 5 pounds and make 5 different recipes to freeze. But, now I buy 5 pounds and make the same recipe in bulk. We eat one that day and then I freeze the others for the future.
I only freeze in freezer-quality "ziplock" bags. I have also used the machine that sucks the air out for you, but truthfully, I think its easier to lay it flat and then squeeze the extra air out. Freezing it flat takes up minimal space in my freezer.
Today's Fab Five - Spaghetti...probably the all-time favorite meal in our home.
Here is how I make spaghetti sauce for 5 pounds of meat:
3 cans tomato sauce
3 cans diced tomatoes, do not drain
1 small can tomato paste
1 large onion
5 garlic cloves
1 T oregano
1 T basil
1/2 T marjoram
1 T sugar
Just add all the meat, onions, and garlic into the pan and brown. I have found through the years that a pasta spoon is very helpful for stirring large amounts of meat. It kinda "grabs" the meat and helps move it around. You will need to stir fairly frequently since it is a lot of meat.
After the meat is browned, drain the fat off. You can even rinse the meat in hot water to get rid of more fat. Now, add sauce. You can used bottled or make your own. To make your own, just add the remaining ingredients and then let it simmer. The longer it simmers, the better it will be. It's even perfect in a crock pot all day on low.
When you are ready for dinner, just pull out about one fifth of the sauce. Believe me, no one will ever say, "This is not one pound of meat." So, don't try to be all exact. Then cook your pasta, throw together a salad and voila - Dinner!
After the remaining sauce has cooled, you will want to pack the rest into 4 freezer quality "ziplock" type bags. Be sure and write on the bag, before filling and use a Sharpie. I have an old milk carton that I cut the top off to help hold the bag while I fill it. I use a ladle and about 4 full ladles worth feeds my family of four one meal.
Lay the bag flat and squeeze the extra air out. Do your best to leave no space. I close all but the very corner and gently push the air out and the sauce to the edge.
If you leave it flat to freeze it will take up minimal space in the freezer.
- You can serve sauce over pasta OR if you are looking for a lower carb option, serve it over sautéed zucchini or spaghetti squash.
- If you only defrost one bag full and then suddenly find that you will be feeding more people, you can always add more sauce. Lots of sauces don't have a lot of meat and that is an easy way to make it stretch.
- Running low on time? Put the ziplock in your sink full of water. It will defrost faster. You can use your microwave, but be careful. Bags do melt. I do it for 1 minute and then see if I can break it out of the bag and into another dish for warming.