Adjusting to working out of the home has been a real struggle. I think I use up all my will-power and decision-making abilities at work. When I get home I’m too tired to make any decisions about dinner and too tired to make something that will require anything more than heating something up that is already prepared. This month’s menu was made with that in mind, and meal prep will be the name of the game.
Purchase 6 pounds ground beef (85/15 or 90/10) to prep the following meals at one time.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make Stovetop Meatloaf by mixing the following ingredients in a gallon-size Ziploc bag: 2 lbs. ground beef, 1 package low-sodium Stovetop stuffing (pulsed in blender to make crumbs), 1 cup water, and 2 eggs. Press mixture into a Pam-sprayed loaf pan. Spread about 1/2 cup BBQ sauce or ketchup on top, and cover loaf pan with foil. Bake for about 1 hour. Remove foil and bake another 15 minutes so sauce creates a glaze. Remove from oven and let cool for about 10 minutes before removing from pan and slicing. Serve with mashed potatoes and green beans. This is what you’ll eat for dinner tonight. The remaining meals will go in the freezer for future meals.
While meatloaf is baking, make Master Meat Mix as follows: brown 4 pounds ground beef and 1 onion, minced, in a large skillet. Drain fat. Add 1 can (6 oz) tomato paste, 1 can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes, 1 tsp. granulated garlic, and 1 tsp. salt to drained ground beef. Stir to combine. Remove from heat. Place 2 cups of Master Meat Mix in 5 gallon-size Ziploc bags, and add the listed ingredients for each recipe.
- Crockpot Manicotti: 1 can (16 oz.) crushed tomatoes, 1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce, 1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste, 1 envelope spaghetti seasoning mix, 1/2 tsp. oregano, 1/2 tsp. basil, 1/4 tsp. pepper, and 1/2 cup water. Seal bag, mix together, label bag, and freeze. Thaw in refrigerator. When ready to make, follow the recipe on the manicotti box for the filling, except DO NOT cook the pasta. You don’t have to boil it first, and that’s the beauty of it! Dump half the contents of the bag in crockpot and layer filled manicotti pasta on top Layer with remaining sauce and grated mozzarella cheese. Cook on HIGH for 2 hours or LOW for 4 hours.
- Spaghetti: follow the same sauce recipe as the manicotti. When ready to make, dump entire contents of the bag in the crockpot and cook on LOW for 4 hours. Serve over cooked spaghetti noodles.
- Taco Tater Tot Casserole: 1 can drained and rinsed black beans, 1 can (4 oz.) diced green chilies, 12 oz. frozen petite corn, 1 envelope taco seasoning. Seal, mix contents together, label bag, and freeze. Thaw in refrigerator. When ready to make, dump contents of bag in Pam-sprayed 9×13 pan. Add 3 cups of Mexican blend cheese, and mix together. Arrange one layer of tater tots on top of beef mixture, and pour a 10 oz. can of red enchilada sauce over tater tots. Bake at 375, uncovered, for 30-40 minutes until tots are crispy and golden brown. Serve with your choice of toppings, such as cilantro, olives, sour cream, guacamole, tomatoes, shredded lettuce, etc.
- Tamale Casserole: 1 T. chili powder, 2 cans (10 oz. each) Rotel. Seal bag, mix contents together, label bag, and freeze. Thaw in refrigerator. When ready to make, dump contents of bag in Pam-sprayed crockpot, layer as many tamales as you can fit in crockpot (remove corn husks first), about 5-7. Sprinkle 1/2 of a chopped onion on top of tamales, 2 cups crushed corn chips, and 1 cup Mexican blend cheese. Cover and cook on LOW for about 3 1/2 hours. Serve with refried beans and toppings of your choice, including additional cheese, cilantro, olives, sour cream, salsa, tomatoes, guacamole, shredded lettuce, etc.
- Sloppy Joes: 1 1/2 T. Worcestershire sauce, 1 can (8 oz. tomato sauce), 1/2 cup ketchup, 1 T. vinegar, 1 T. chili powder (or less to taste), and 1 tsp. salt. Seal bag, mix ingredients together, label bag, and freeze. Thaw in refrigerator. When ready to make, simply heat contents of bag either in the microwave, in a non-stick skillet on the stove, or in a crockpot on LOW for 2 hours. Serve with hamburger buns.
And that’s it! In less than an hour you’ll have 6 meals nearly ready for your family to eat. Keep frozen or fresh veggies and fruit on hand to serve with each meal.