The Beginner’s Guide to Freezer Cooking: Marvelous Meatballs Edition
Welcome to your very first adventure into the world of Once-A-Month Cooking (OAMC)! If the thought of preparing a month’s worth of meals in one go seems daunting, let’s start with something simple, versatile, and absolutely delicious: homemade meatballs.
Not only is this a fantastic way to dip your toes into freezer cooking, but it’s also a great way to take advantage of ground beef sales.
Imagine having a stash of ready-to-go meatballs that can jazz up your spaghetti nights, turn into hearty subs, top your pizza, or even become the star of a cozy mashed potato and gravy dinner!
Ingredients and Preparation
Before we dive in, here’s what you’ll need for your meatball magic:
- Tomato Sauce: 12oz can or jar, plain or flavored to your liking
- Fine Bread Crumbs: 1 1/2 cups
- Eggs: 4 large
- Onion: 1/2 cup, finely chopped
- Green Pepper: 1/4 cup, finely chopped
- Zucchini: 1/4 cup, finely chopped (for a hidden veggie boost!)
- Thyme & Marjoram: 1/8 tsp each for that herby goodness
- Ground Beef: 4 lbs, lean or extra lean for a healthier option
- Mixing Time: In your largest mixing bowl, start by lightly beating the eggs. Mix in the tomato sauce, bread crumbs, chopped veggies, thyme, marjoram, and finally, the ground beef. Don’t be shy—your hands are the best tools for this job!
- Shaping Up: Preheat your oven to 350°F. Roll the mixture into 1″ meatballs, adjusting the size based on your preference. A little tip: disposable gloves can save you from the ground beef getting under your nails.
- Baking Bonanza: Line your baking sheet with foil for easy cleanup, arrange the meatballs with a bit of space between each, and bake for about 30 minutes, or until they’re cooked through.
- Cooling & Freezing: Let the meatballs cool to room temperature. Then, freeze them right on the baking sheet to avoid clumping. Once frozen solid, transfer them to a freezer bag or container for easy storage.
Now, whenever the meatball mood strikes, you can grab as many as you need from the freezer. Here are some quick meal ideas to get you started:
- Spaghetti & Meatballs: A classic that never disappoints. Simply reheat your meatballs in a simmering sauce and serve over al dente pasta.
- Meatball Subs: Warm up the meatballs, tuck them into a hoagie roll, top with marinara and melted cheese, and voilà—a satisfying meal in minutes.
- Pizza Topping: Slice the meatballs and scatter them over your pizza before baking for an extra protein punch.
- Gravy & Mash: For a comforting winter dish, serve the meatballs with rich gravy over creamy mashed potatoes.
Conclusion: Welcome to Freezer Cooking!
Congratulations! You’ve just taken your first step into the world of OAMC with a batch of delicious meatballs ready to enhance any meal. Freezer cooking is not only a time-saver but also a budget-friendly way to enjoy home-cooked meals without the daily hassle.
So, embrace this newfound freedom and creativity in your kitchen, and stay tuned for more freezer-friendly recipes to expand your repertoire!
Easy Meatballs for the Freezer for OAMC
- 1 12 oz can/jar tomato sauce plain or one of the flavored varieties
- 1 1/2 cups fine bread crumbs
- 4 large eggs
- 1/2 cup onion chopped well
- 1/4 cup green pepper chopped well
- 1/4 cup zucchini chopped well
- 1/8 tsp thyme
- 1/8 tsp marjoram
- 4 lbs ground beef use lean or extra lean for healthier version
- In a large bowl (the largest one you've got!) lightly beat the eggs, then add all remaining ingredients except the ground beef. Stir well.
- Add ground beef and mix very well (you may need to use your hands).
- Preheat oven to 350F. Next, roll into meatballs about 1" in size, although you can make them larger or smaller, if you'd like. (I use disposable gloves to keep the ground beef off my hands, I hate the feel and it always gets stuck under my nails).
- Line rimmed baking sheet with tin foil and place meatballs in rows, leaving a small amount of space between each one. Bake for 30 minutes or until one you cut in half is no longer pink in the middle.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool until no longer hot to the touch.
- Once cooled, place entire baking sheet for an hour or two, or until meatballs are completely frozen.
- Then place meatballs into a freezer bag or container. By freezing them on the sheet first, they won't be frozen together in the bag (as they would be if you put them in the bag before they are frozen), so you can take as few or as many meatballs out at a time.