When I was a young wife, I wish that someone had taught me how to maximize my cooking time by making extra meals for the freezer. For that reason, I’m going to show you how to turn six pounds of ground beef into four dinners–one for today and three for the freezer.   In this post I shared some other strategies for getting a head start on dinner, but today I’m going to show you how to do it.

Recently I bought six pounds of ground beef at Sam’s Club.  The ground beef was marked down since it was nearing its “sell by” date, but that doesn’t bother me.  I knew I wanted to make meatloaves, and I was happy to find 90/10 (just 10% fat) ground beef for a reasonable price.  I like the lower fat ground beef for meatloaf.

Meatloaf is a favorite of ours, and I use a recipe that I found on a Quaker Oatmeal box in 1980.   Here it is:

1.5 pounds ground beef                                     

1/4 c. onion, chopped

1 egg

1 cup tomato juice (I use tomato sauce)

3/4 cup quick oats

1 TB salt

1/4 tsp pepper

Bake for one hour at 350 degrees.  Let stand for 15 minutes before cutting.

Since I had six pounds of ground beef, I simply mulitiplied all of the ingredients by four. (I love it when it works out like that.  Math skills are not my strong suit!) I used a clean dish pan to mix this very large meatloaf.

The worst part about making meatloaf is mixing it with your hands.  That’s exactly why I prefer to make more than one meatloaf at a time.  Why go through all of this just for one meal when you can make four meals at once?

When it’s thoroughly mixed, I use a spatula to flatten it out in the dishpan so that I can divide it into four equal portions.

Once you have the meatloaf divided, you can wrap the four meatloaves in plastic wrap or put them into plastic storage bags.

I like to divide each of the four meatloaves in half since smaller meatloaves cook faster.  When I was making this batch, I wrapped up three meals for the freezer, and put two of the small meatloaves in a pan to cook for our meal that day.

You can see that my meatloaves are not exactly the same size.  That’s okay.  I’m not a perfectionist, so I can deal with this. 😉

After bagging the meatloaves in the plastic storage bags and securing with twist ties, I put them in Ziploc Freezer bags before putting them in the freezer.

If freezer space is an issue for you, you can flatten the meatloaves out and freeze them flat.  You can reshape them into loaf form when you thaw them.

The meatloaves that you see here will give us eight meals since I’m feeding just two people.   I love the pay off that comes from this kind of preparation.   It took me about the same amount of time to prepare eight meals as it would have to prepare one meal.  Granted, the bagging up takes a little time, but not nearly as much time as the food prep.

When we want to have meatloaf again in a few weeks, I will thaw the frozen meatloaf in the fridge and then bake according to the directions on the recipe. Meal prep doesn’t get much simpler than that!

What are your favorite make ahead meals?