Cooking at home can be made easy with a little preparation. Using a few main ingredients that are universal to a number of dishes is one of the quickest ways to get the most out of your time as well as your dollar. All five recipes in this article are based around five pounds of ground beef and 2 28-ounce jars of spaghetti sauce. Save money by purchasing your ground beef in bulk at a discount super store like Sam’s or Costco. You can save time by cooking it all at once and freezing it in one-pound amounts.
Start by browning all of your beef. Drain off the grease and add in your 2 jars of spaghetti sauce. Now you are ready to make your five dishes. I like to chop up 2 large onions and cook them with the ground beef, but that is optional. Diced bell peppers also make a nice addition.
1. Spaghetti is a well known favorite and very easy to make. Just heat up your ground beef and sauce. Cook you noodles and serve. You don’t really need a recipe for that.
For a twist on traditional spaghetti try making a spaghetti casserole – stir together your one-pound of ground beef mixture with one 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes and 8 ounces of cooked spaghetti noodles. Pour half of this mixture into a greased casserole dish. Top with ½ cup of shredded cheddar cheese. Top off with the rest of the noodle and meat mixture. Sprinkle the top with ½ cup of shredded cheddar cheese and bake at 350 degrees until heated through and bubbly. Allow your spaghetti casserole to cool for about 15 minutes if you want to cut it out in nice squares. If you don’t, just start scooping. I like to break my noodles up right before cooking them when I make this.
2. Sloppy Joes – To turn your spaghetti sauce and ground beef into killer sloppy Joes just add some chili powder. I like to add at least 2 tablespoons per one pound of meat. You can also add in some diced tomatoes. Let this reheat and simmer on the stove. Serve on toasted hamburger buns. Your family will love it.
3. Shepherds Pie – Traditionally shepherds pie does not have tomato sauce in it, but I like this version because it adds flavor to a dish that can be somewhat bland. Thaw out your beef mixture. Spread it onto the bottom of a greased casserole dish. Next, layer on frozen peas. You could also use a frozen pea and carrot mixture if you would like. Now, spread on a nice thick layer of mashed potatoes. Stick your casserole dish in a 350-degree oven for about thirty minutes. You can also turn the broiler on to brown the tops of your potatoes and make them crunchy.
4. Beefy Mac n Cheese – This is one of my favorites. Thaw out some of your beef mixture. Add in a 28 ounce can of diced or stewed tomatoes. I like to use the Red Gold brand with olive oil and garlic added. In a separate pot bring some water to a boil. Cook at least 8 ounces of macaroni noodles. Drain them once they are cooked. Stir the noodles into the Beef mixture and heat through thoroughly. Serve with a salad and bread.
5. Pizza – I love this dish because it is a little unexpected, but very tasty. You can use either a premade pizza crust or a tube pizza crust from the refrigerator section. Thaw out your meat. You can use ½ lb. of this mixture per pizza. Spread the meat onto your crust. Next, sprinkle with cheese and bake following the directions on the pizza crust package. Now that is easy! Serve with a salad and you have a meal that family members of all ages can appreciate.
For a twist on this you could use canned pizza dough and your meat mixture to make a calzone. Fill your dough with meat and cheese. Fold the dough over and press the edges sealed with a fork. Bake until golden brown. Serve with some extra marinara sauce on the side. Don’t overfill your dough or it may leak when you bake it.