I bought 40 pounds of 93/7 hamburger and processed it all into meal sized portions for the freezer last weekend. Whew!
I have been buying my boneless/skinless chicken breasts through Zaycon foods for about a year now and just love it! The breasts (also sold in 40 pound packages) are huge with hardly any fat on them! You can see what I did with all those chicken breasts HERE.
Then I tried their bacon. Mmmmm…. bacon! The Zaycon bacon comes in twelve 3 pound packages. What I like to do is bake an entire package of bacon all at once (yes, I bake mine in the oven – so much easier!) and store them six strips wide on layers of paper towels in the freezer. I don’t bake them until they are crispy, just lightly browned and almost done. Then, when we want bacon for breakfast, or baked in squash, or to crumble on a salad, all I have to do is place some strips in a cast iron pan over medium high heat for just a few minutes to “refresh and crisp”! It’s a great time-saver.
I was so happy with the chicken breasts and bacon, that I decided to try their 93/7 ground beef. It’s unbelievable how much cheaper the Zaycon ground beef is than the grocery stores around town, and the meat is also a lot fresher! Since I got four 10 pound packages of ground beef, I decided to use each package in a different way. Every time someone uses the link on the right to purchase Zaycon foods, I am compensated a dollar – so, thanks to those of you who have supported this blog with your purchase! :0 If you would like to see if Zaycon delivers in your area, the link has a map of all the delivery sites in the United States.
The first package of ground beef was made into hamburger patties. I got this hamburger making press many, many moons ago and have loved it ever since. It makes perfectly sized hamburgers that are all just about the same weight. That way, when cooking up the burgers, they are all done at the same time. Using this press it took very little time to get a bunch of hamburgers formed! I mean, a bunch! The only thing I added to the burgers before forming them was a little bit of sea salt and some black pepper. That way, in the future, if I have run out of the frozen cooked ground beef, I can always use the burgers instead! Once the hamburgers were formed, I layered them between parchment paper and placed them in the freezer. When they were frozen solid, they were packaged two by two with my sucky machine (aka Food Saver).
Then, it was time to make meatloaf. Or should I say meatloafs. Maybe meatloaves?
I don’t usually follow a recipe when I make meatloaf, just some of this and a little bit of that. I always add eggs, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, catsup and onions. Then, I tend to throw in whatever else sounds good and may be at hand, such as garlic, jalapenos or chiles, rice, carrots, parsley, cauliflower, etc.. Most of the time the combinations are really good. Sometimes, not so much. Ask me how I know a combo of chiles, jalapenos, garlic and onions may be a bit too spicy in a meatloaf! I usually combine all the ingredients in my mixer with the dough hook attachment, and then finish off with my hands. When ready for making into the actual meat “loaf”, I have found that the small aluminum loaf pans or the plastic tubs that sandwich meats come in work perfectly. We don’t buy sliced sandwich meat anymore, but these tubs seem to last forever, and have come in handy in so many ways! Then, off to the freezer.
Ray and I just love meatloaf and baked potatoes… mmmmmm, comfort food.
But I think Ray actually prefers to eat the left-overs the next day in a meatloaf sandwich.
The next day was meatball day. I searched for recipes on the internet and found one that Ree Drummond (Pioneer Lady) uses. It was fairly simple and plain, so I could serve the meatballs in any number of different sauces: teriyaki, beef gravy, spaghetti., etc.. Ray and I spent a couple of hours mixing together the ingredients, making the meat mixture into balls and then frying them on fairly high heat to get a good brown crust on them, but not cooking them completely through. The meatballs were then placed on parchment lined cookie sheets and popped into the freezer. Once frozen, I placed 25 meatballs into gallon sized freezer bags. I got 4-1/2 bags, or 115 meatballs! Now, whenever we want to have a meatball sandwich, or meatballs in gravy over mashed potatoes, I just pluck some meatballs out of the bag, let them thaw for a few minutes, then add them to whatever sauce I’m using – easy peasy!
On top of spaghetti, All covered with cheese,
I lost my poor meatball,
When somebody sneezed.
It rolled off the table,
And on to the floor,
And then my poor meatball,
Rolled out of the door.
It rolled in the garden,
And under a bush,
And then my poor meatball,
Was nothing but mush.
So if you eat spaghetti,
All covered with cheese,
Hold on to your meatball,
Whenever you sneeze. Remember that blast from the past?
Finally, I had one more 10 pound package of ground beef. Whew – almost done! I decided to just brown the ground beef, wash it, then package it in 2 cup increments. This is the perfect amount to make tacos, chili, stroganoff, etc..
“Wash it?” you ask. Why, yes, I wash my ground beef by placing the hot ground beef under hot water running from my kitchen faucet. Tilt the pan just a bit. The fat floats up and over the top of the pan and runs down the drain, rendering your ground beef nearly fat free! Or, you can put the ground beef in a colander and run it under hot tap water. Either way works. Yes, a lot of the flavoring does go down the drain with that fat, but if you are adding stuff back like taco seasonings or peppers and onions, you won’t miss the fat flavoring at all! And it’s much better for you! Caution: if you aren’t using a fairly lean ground beef, you may have a lot (and I mean a lot) of fat, which could be a potential problem for your plumbing. Try draining the ground beef in a colander that you center over a large pot and run the hot water over it that way. If you do this, chill the fat/water combo and all the fat will rise to the top, solidify, and now you have tallow! What can you do with tallow? Make soap! Tallow soap is wonderful! Click on my Soapmaking link at the top of this page for more ideas.
So, there you have it! For a few hours of labor (it was actually fun making meatballs with my dearest) you can prepare lots of freezer ready food. In the morning when I know I am going to have a busy day, I will place a meat loaf in the refrigerator (on the door where it is the warmest) and then around 4ish in the afternoon pop it and a couple of Idaho’s in the oven for a delicious, easy meal. But then, the easiest thing for me is to tell Ray it’s his night to cook and have him grill up some burgers! 😉
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