Divas on a Dime: Turning frozen hamburger into great homemade dishes

Can a bag of frozen hamburger make you happy, healthy and rich?

I might be on to something. Knowing that you have your dinner planned (even when you kinda don’t) will reduce stress and make you happier. Bypassing the drive-thru and enjoying a nutritious homemade meal that’s faster than fast food will make you healthier. And think of the money you’ll save buying and cooking in quantity when hamburger is on sale. It’s like an insurance policy in your freezer!

It’s so easy: pre-cook seasoned ground beef and freeze it in a serving size appropriate to your family’s dinner needs. That’s all. You add a few simple ingredients to make quick and tasty meals. Seriously, spending an hour doing this will reduce stress, save you money and keep you fitting into your jeans.

I find five pounds of ground beef, thoroughly cooked and divided, yields four generous meals for my family of four. Your needs may vary. For each pound of ground beef, add one (12 oz.) bag of frozen three pepper and onion blend for lots of veggies. While you’re cooking, season with garlic, salt and pepper to taste. Don’t get fancy; keep this mixture neutral so it stays very versatile. Cool the mixture and divide, placing the good stuff into zip-top freezer bags and freeze flat so they defrost quickly.

Here are some ideas to makedelicious, nutritious meals your family will love. You’ll see I’m not listing amounts because all the recipes are very forgiving, and you can “eyeball” it to your preferences.

Sloppy Joes Sliders (Pictured)– Preheat oven to 325°F. In a skillet, mix defrosted hamburger with canned sloppy joe sauce or a mix of tomato soup, brown sugar and mustard. Split small buns in half. Place the bottom halves in a baking dish and spoon some hamburger mixture on top then generously sprinkle with sharp cheddar cheese. Replace the top half of the bun and brush with melted butter. Bake for 20 minutes or until everything is melted and gooey.

Tex-Mex Mac and Cheese – Cook elbow macaroni according to package directions. In a large skillet, reheat ground beef with chili powder and cumin. Mix in salsa, canned green chili peppers and canned cheddar cheese soup. Blend with cooked macaroni and top with shredded Mexican-blend cheese.

Poor Man’s Casserole – Make mashed potatoes, fresh is best, but an instant mix works. Mix hamburger with frozen mixed veggies, tomato sauce and your favorite seasoning. Place beef in the bottom of a casserole dish, layer the potatoes over the beef, top with shredded cheese. Bake at 375°F for 25 minutes.

Mock Stroganoff – Cook wide egg noodles according to package directions. Meanwhile, mix the beef with French onion dip. This is found in the dairy section with the sour cream. Add frozen peas and bring to a simmer. Blend with cooked pasta and serve.

Speedy Spaghetti – Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a skillet, combine hamburger with spaghetti sauce. Add Italian seasoning and garlic to taste. Combine cooked pasta with beef mixture.

Chili – Heat hamburger with lots of chili powder and cumin; add cans of tomatoes with chilies, tomato sauce, kidney beans and corn. This can also be served wrapped in tortillas with cheese and sour cream.

I let the liquid from the peppers evaporate because that’s flavor ad you don’t want to toss flavor and nutrients down the drain.

Contributed by Patti Diamond from Divas On A Dime – Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous! – www.divasonadime.com Join us on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom.