I’m not a big fan of once a month cooking sessions but I do like to keep my freezer full in other ways. One of the best ways is buying meat in bulk, portioning out into family-sized portions and freezing. All the better if you can precook anything to make meal planning and dinnertime easier!
One of my laziest method for freezer cooking requires almost no work! What you’ll need:
- A club-sized package of ground beef (generally around 6-7 pounds)
- Kitchen scale or measuring cups
- A burger press (or your hands!)
- Burger patty container or a cookie sheet, waxed paper, and a large freezer bag
- Crock pot
- Mix ‘n chop masher (I LOVE this kitchen utensil!), large spoon or pastry blender
- Medium-sized freezer bags and a permanent marker
The first step is to divide the package of ground beef into 1 pound sizes.
Use a scale or a measuring cup to portion out the ground beef (1 cup = 1/2 pound). After you have it portioned out it’s time to get your hands a bit messy. Use two pounds to make hamburger patties. I like to divide one pound into 4 equal pieces – that makes a good-sized burger. Use a burger press or your hands to make 8 patties from 2 pounds of ground beef.
Put the burgers into hamburger patty containers if you have them or line a cookie sheet with waxed paper and put the patties on the waxed paper. Put the pan in the freezer and flash freeze. Once the burgers are frozen, cut the waxed paper between each frozen patty. Stack the burgers in a freezer bag, keeping a square of waxed paper between each (these steps make it much easier to just grab the number of burgers you need instead of having one frozen mass of ground beef). Label the bag and put it in the freezer.
Now the messy part is out of the way! Next you’ll want to grab your slow cooker, put the remaining 4-5 pounds in, give the meat a good smash with the potato masher or a large spoon (or a pastry blender!), cover, and let cook on high for about 3 hours (maybe more depending on the heat of your crock pot). Every hour or so give the ground beef another quick mix with the masher, breaking up the larger pieces.
Once the ground beef is cooked drain, rinse with cool water, and let cool completely. Portion out into 1 and 2 cup portions, label the bags, press out the excess air, and freeze. You now have 8 burger patties and 4-5 pounds of ground beef all cooked and ready for a meal!
There are so many ways to use cooked ground beef for quick dinners. If you’re at a loss for ideas here are a few easy hamburger recipe ideas:
- tacos, taco salad, or tamale pie
- shepherd’s pie
- quick spaghetti meat sauce
- Sloppy Joes
- topping for pizza or filling for calzones
- grilled cheeseburger wraps
- skillet pasta meals (like Skillet Chili Mac)
Once you have a stash of cooked ground beef in your freezer you’re on your way to quick weeknight meals!
If you’re looking for more recipes and ideas for freezer cooking with bulk packages from Costco or other warehouse clubs, my favorite resource is Fix, Freeze, Feast. It’s chock-full of recipes that use those club-sized packages of meat. It really does make a club membership worth the extra money! Check back soon – I’ll be sharing some recipes to use up that cooked ground beef in your freezer!