Few things help me out more on a daily basis than freezer cooking. While the prep is always a big, messy job the reward is a freezer full of ready-to-go meals.
Today is meatball day!
I started out with 6 pounds of ground beef and a great recipe from Pioneer Woman. If you haven’t discovered PW, you are missing out. This is my go-to place for ranch recipes. She rocks!
Pioneer Woman’s BBQ Comfort Meatballs recipe.
Here is the kicker. I make the basic recipe but I bake the meatballs instead of frying.
I figure baking meatballs is healthier but most of all cuts down on the messy step of breading and frying. It also makes the meatballs gluten-free.
A regular recipe of these meatballs is 1 1/2 pounds of ground beef. I use 6 pounds of ground beef for freezer cooking.
Add in some oats, milk, finely chopped onions, salt and pepper.
I mixed it up with one hand and use the other to keep two little sets of helping hands out of the bowl.
Here is where I diverge from the recipe. Skip the breading in flour and frying all together.
Instead, use a small cookie scoop to form meatballs and place on a baking tray.
Of course, you can form meatballs by hand but using a scoop is so much faster and not as messy. They all stay the same size too. Instead of getting bigger and bigger as I get tired of shaping meatballs.
Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Keep in mind that I am at high-altitude and everything needs a little extra time to cook. 10-12 minutes may be plenty at low-altitude.
Bake until they start to brown and are just cooked all the way through. This is very important when your 2 year-old is eating meatballs off the tray as soon as they cool.
My trick to prepping food for the freezer is to flash freeze. Transfer the cooked meatballs onto another baking tray in a single layer and freeze.
An hour or two in the freezer usually does the trick. I learned the hard way that leaving them in the freezer uncovered overnights dries them out.
As soon as the meatballs are frozen, I grab my handy food-saver and bag them up.
You can also put them in a regular zip-loc freezer bag but be sure to get as much air out as possible.
My freezer is full of meatballs. Meatballs for subs and sliders. Meatballs for spaghetti. Meatballs with gravy. Meatballs to throw in a dish and add whatever sauce I have on hand.
Let’s face it, my kiddos eat them plain. How easy is that?
Today I put them in a baking dish and added the tangy, rich BBQ sauce from PW’s recipe.
Comfort food for a cool fall day on the ranch.