Sunday, April 28, 2013

Browning Hamburger In The Crockpot – A Real Timesaver!

crockpot hamburger

Forgive me for the overused phrase I’m about to use…but if I had a nickel for every time I forgot to take a pound of frozen hamburger out of the freezer that I was planning to use for dinner….I’d be rich! :-) I forget WAY more than I remember!

Then I end up putting it in the microwave to defrost it and it usually ends up getting cooked on the corners and is still frozen in the middle! So I scrape the thawed part off and get it all over my hands (yuck!) and put it back in the microwave 3 or 4 more times until it’s FINALLY thawed all the way through. THEN I still have to COOK it!

I have done this for so long that it never occurred to me that there’s GOT to be a better way until I stumbled across a blog post by Myra at My Blessed Life about browning frozen hamburger in her crockpot! Brilliant….but…it would still require me to have the forethought to start this process in the morning and, well, let’s just say I don’t have a very good track record. :-)

So I took this idea one step further and decided to buy a 5 pound package of ground beef, cook it all up at once in the crockpot (a basic no-brainer), and then freeze it AFTER it’s cooked! NOW when I need a pound of hamburger for dinner, it is already COOKED! ****Cue the choir of angels***

I realize this probably won’t be a revelation to a lot of you…but to me it has been a game-changer! Now when I realize at 6 o’clock on a Tuesday night that it’s “Taco Tuesday”…I am set! I grab a bag out of the freezer, break it up a bit and throw it in the pan. It quickly thaws in the pan and I add whatever seasonings, etc. I need. Saves me SO much time (not to mention irritation!) and I never have to touch raw ground beef! yay!

 

How To Brown Hamburger In A Crockpot

(as if you needed me to explain this!)

 

crockpot hamburger

Place ground beef in crock pot and break it up a little with a fork (or if you’re NOT ME…with your hands!)

 

crockpot hamburger

Put the lid on and cook on High for 3 to 4 hours (depending on your crockpot).

 

crockpot hamburger

At the halfway point, I got my pastry cutter (couldn’t think of a better option at the time) and broke up the meat some more and stirred it, then put the cover back on.

 

crockpot hamburger

When it was sufficiently cooked, I stirred it again to break it up a bit more…..

 

crockpot hamburger

…..and then poured it all into a colander to drain and rinsed it with cold water. This serves two purposes. 1) It cools the meat down fast so you can put it in bags to freeze.  2) It cuts WAY down on the fat in the meat!

 

crockpot hamburger

Then just put it in equal portions in resealable plastic bags and put them in the freezer.

 

crockpot hamburger

See how nicely they stack in there? Right on top of some of my Dump Chicken.

Now if I just had a nickel for every time this idea has HELPED me….. :-)

 

What are your go-to recipes for ground beef?

 

crockpot hamburger

 

 

 


Never miss a good thing!
Receive a daily dose of Jillee + bonus newsletters.

109 thoughts on “Browning Hamburger In The Crockpot – A Real Timesaver!

  1. Cathy in MN

    I do this often. Works so well. I also do it in the oven if I want it a little browner. Spread the hamburger out on a cake type pan. No greasy stove top mess.

    Reply
  2. Birdie Bigby

    Browned ground beef seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic powder,when browned add a pkg of frozen mixed veg, a can of tomatoe sauce and a can of water. If you like tomatoes add a can of diced tomatoes, bring to boil, cover turn heat down and cook just until vegs are done, serve over rice or mashed potatoes. A really go to fast supper that my kids and husband liked.

    Reply
  3. Jessica

    Shepards pie is my go to recipe..i use the meatand cooked pasta shells, medium size. Mixed veggies frozen…or canned…or even fresh veggies fixed. Mix meat, shells and veggies together with shredded cheese and seasonings. I then put a thick later of cheesey mashed potatoes on top. Top with shredded cheese. I use Colby and monterey. Bake until cheese is browned and melted. I like it this way and my family also does. Thanks jillee for the crock pot tip! What a time saver!!

    Reply
  4. Karyn Craw

    Another tool to save you from touching raw meat is a potato masher. It gives you a nice handle to get leverage, and you can use it to stir the meat with out getting another tool or spoon dirty. :)

    Reply
      1. Debi

        I love BOTH utensil ideas! I’ve been using my smallest food processor to get smaller pieces, but this will be soooo much easier! THANKS to you both!!

        Reply
        1. Mary

          Pampered Chef makes a WIONDERFUL tool called the Mix and Chop (I am NOT a Pampered Chef consultant nor was I paid to say this!).

          I received one as a gift and don’t know what I ever did without it! I’m sure Pampered Chef is not the only brand; if you Google Mix and Chop it will give you an idea of what it looks like, then maybe you could check the local B3 or something…

          Also, as much time as pre-cooked ground beef saves, it is also just as easy to freeze the 1 lb. packages (press the meat out flat in a qt. sized ziplock) and then defrost in a sink of cold water. I do this regularly, with most of our meats and it only takes 10-15 minutes in the water to defrost most items. I am a full-time, work outside the home, wife and mother of 2. When I get home, I fill the sink 1/2 way with water, plop the frozen meat in, then go change out of my work clothes. By the time I’m ready to start dinner, everything is thawed and waiting.

          Reply
          1. Carol

            I also have the Pampered Chef hand chopper. It is about as long as a flipping utensil. I get “upset” if I can’t find this. LOL. It is the best tool I EVER owned for stirring and/or chopping. The shape lets you scrape edges of bowls, pans, anything with a small or large depth. I especially like it because it made to use with stovetop/oven cooking. Thanks Mary for getting me a rant about my food chopper and how much I love it ;-) — I have no affiliation with Pampered Chef either.

            Reply
  5. Sharon

    I just found you and I had never thought of this! At one time, when I worked outside the home full time I thought I was smart to buy a 5 lb bag of hamburger and divide it before freezing. Now that I am disabled, I really like this idea. My ability to stand in the kitchen and cook 45-60 minutes is no longer an option. If I can do partial cooking ahead of time, so much the better. I like the stacking in the freezer idea, too. Takes up less space. With warmer weather upon us, anything to cut time in the kitchen is great! Thaw, season and good to go for tacos, taco salad, spaghetti, chili, etc. Keep it simple is how I roll……. Thank you for sharing!

    Reply
  6. mary

    What about the food safety aspect of slow-cooking large quantities of ground beef? I have some reserves, although in scanning the web, I see that slow cooking is used even for frozen ground meats (most say cook on high for 2 hours, then to low for remaining 4 hours). I wonder about the low temperature from a food safety standpoint.

    Reply
    1. Becky

      You know, that’s a good point. I’m curious abou that now. My concern with pre cooking and then freezing the meat is I read or heard somewhere that some of the nutrients get lost when you do that instead of just freezin it raw? But I’m not sure of that either :-/

      Reply
  7. Laura L.

    Oh! What a lifesaver…I just wouldn’t run water over my amazingly yummy MT beef after it’s cooked. Can’t wait to try this tomorrow …going to try it with Italian sausage and ground beef together. Yummm. Thanks for the great tip! It is really one good thing!

    Reply
  8. Kate

    This is a great idea for plain ground meat, but regarding “Taco Tuesday,” why not take this idea to the next step and make it into taco meat before freezing? I have a family of six and always quadruple my recipe (using 5 lbs. of ground beef or turkey and stretching even further by adding 2 lbs. of black beans (doubling whatever seasoning I use for 5 lbs. of meat)) and then freezing in single portions. I realize you wouldn’t want to rinse after cooking, but when 6:00 on Tuesday rolls around, your one step further!

    Reply
  9. Karole

    I have never heard of running cooked meat under water. I find that a bit odd. I think that’s a step I would skip. If you use meat that is lower in fat and let it drain you probably don’t need to let it run under water. Seems like you would lose some flavor in the process, or make the meat watery when it defrosts. It it works for you great just never heard of it.

    Reply
    1. Mindy

      Karole, when you rinse your meat, you will lose some seasoning if you season first, but if all you are doing is browning/cooking with no seasoning, then you lose nothing but fat when you rinse. I rinse all of my ground meat, whether ground beef, Italian sausage, etc. Even after draining, some fat/grease clings to the meat. When I rinse it, more fat/grease runs off. I rinse it until the water runs clear. Then I let it sit/drain some more until no more liquid runs through the bottom of the colander. BTW, I buy very lean ground meat, and while it doesn’t look like there’s a lot of fat/grease in the pan, I was surprised by how much fat/grease rinsed off of it.

      Reply
    2. Jean

      I rinse mine in HOT water – to get all the fat I can out of it! I used to ask everyone if they could taste the difference and nobody could! I think you are thinking of a hamburger. I don’t rinse a fried hamburger. Only when I fry it up ground. Its the same either way but less fat! :-)

      Reply
    3. Marie

      I have run cold water over cooked ground beef for probably 40 years or so. Never thought it tasted any different and gets rid of unwanted fat. A lot of people cannot afford to buy the leanest hamburger as a rule for casseroles etc.

      Reply
  10. Becky

    My mom always had me cook meat straight from the freezer. For hamburger meat we just added a bit of water, and covered with a lid. After waiting a while we would basically scrape off the “cooked/thawed” parts and keep going until it was all thawed/cooked. Essentially skipping the microwave part of the process. Personally, I find that the microwave changes the texture of the meat a little. Though it could be my imagination :-)

    Reply
    1. Cassie

      This is what I’ve always done too; I used to assume everyone did. I was honestly confused the first time I heard someone complain that they couldn’t make the dinner they’d planned because they’d forgotten to thaw the meat in time, since frozen hamburger takes only a few minutes longer to cook than fresh.

      Reply
  11. judith

    Great ideas. I have been cooking the hamburger ahead for years. I have to try the rinsing in water. I put mine is Tupperware containers in the freezer. My problem was getting to much in one container and not enough in the next. Now I set the containers on my WW scale and end up with 1½ pounds
    in each container.

    Reply
  12. Barbara Tyler

    I will do this when I bring home groceries just to keep my tiny kitchen cooler this summer. I was already storing ground beef in flat packages just to make it thaw faster and store easier. Thanks so much.

    Reply
  13. Margaret

    I am not a consultant however Pampered Chef has a unique tool for browning hamburger. It is marvelous and once you have used it you will not want to go back to the fork again. I have no idea the cost as I received it as a gift but it has moved up to one of the most used tools in my kitchen!.

    Reply
      1. PoorCollegeKid

        I was given one of the pampered chef ground meat tools as a graduation/moving out for the first time present, and it’s fantastic.

        I always buy ground beef in large quantities (For a single person, at least. Last night I cooked up six pounds.), and cook it all up at once and divide into meal sized portions and freeze. Works so much better, and makes it super easy for me to make dinner when I get home from my classes at 10 pm.

        However, one thing I do that helps me a lot is to boil my ground beef. I find it cooks faster and breaks into much smaller pieces than pan frying. I don’t always use enough water to cover the meat, but at least enough to have an inch or two in the pan I’m using. Then when the meat is all browned, I drain and let the liquids drain into a bowl underneath. I let the liquid cool in the fridge, and once cool scrape off the fat and freeze for use in cooking (free cooking oil, yes please). The water turns into a broth of sorts, though not as flavorful as a bone broth. Though the last few times I did this, the broth jelled! Who knew there was so much gelatin in ground beef?

        Just a few thoughts. =]

        Reply
    1. Mindy

      I am a Pampered Chef consultant and the Mix N Chop is one of my best selling tools! It is ONLY $11 before tax/shipping too! It works with all ground meat and is wonderful! It will also work if you chop your onions and then freeze them. When you put them in the pan, use the Mix N Chop to break it up quickly and easily.

      Reply
      1. Renae

        I also have the ‘Mix and Chop ‘. It is perfect for mixing ground meats while cooking. You can control the uniformity of the chunks! Very inexpensive, and worth the money!

        Reply
    2. Patti Krause

      I’ve been doing this for years…I sometimes start mine from frozen. If you buy your beef by the “side” then you end up with packages of 1# (or however you have them package it) of ground beef. I put the frozen beef (after unwrapping it) into the 6 qt crockpot (I can usually get 5 or 6 one # packages in if I stand them on end around the outside and lay them down in the middle to expose as much surface to the hot bottom and sides of the crockpot). I never turn on the crockpot until the beef is all in it and the crock has had a chance to chill from the frozen beef…just to make sure it doesn’t crack the crock…and it never has. Normally, I season the ground beef when I put it in. I start it on High for 2 to 3 hours (until most of the beef is thawed and I can mash it up) then turn it down to low for an additional 4 hours or so. Every couple of hours I use my Pampered Chef Mix ‘N’ Chop tool (it’s also amazing for breaking up pork sausage in a skillet…I like my biscuits & sausage gravy to have small bits of sausage instead of big clumps and the sausage is very hard to get broken up properly in the skillet) and mash up the ground beef (I like it thoroughly broken up as well) and add any additional seasoning (salt, pepper, garlic & onion powder and Bragg’s Sea Kelp Delight…a wonderful healthy, organic seasoning) as needed. I let it cool down in the crock and package it for the freezer. I often put 2 or 3 pounds of lean ground turkey in with the beef and no one hardly even notices that it’s not all beef, and it cuts the fat content.

      Reply
    3. Sue

      Kitchen Collection stores have a similar tool. It basically is a thick “X” shape with a handle, all made of plastic so it works just like the PC version. I love them so much that I have 2 in my kitchen and another in my motor home!

      Reply
  14. Jan

    I do this already but on the stovetop – never thought to try my crockpot. I add carrots ( run them thru the processor til finely diced) to our meat. Sneaky way to get a veggie in & it’s adds a sweetness to the meat. Sloppy joes taste awesome with this combo.
    I also cook a chicken in the crockpot once a week. Cut Er up & flat freeze the meat. Instant choices for many meals. Then cook the skin & bones with water for stock for the freezer.
    Now you need to create a list of things we can create with our packaged hamburger :-)
    Thanks

    Reply
    1. Sallie

      What a great idea. Carrots in the ground meat. We don’t use hamburger, only ground chicken and ground turkey, but I’d bet it would still work great. Thanks for the idea. I have one vegetarian child and one who won’t touch a veggie with a ten foot pole. Now I can hide it in his chicken burgers! ;)

      Reply
  15. Connie

    My mother, bless her heart, was cooking ground beef ahead of time and freezing it 60 years ago. Of course she taught her girls to do the same! She always rinsed the meat in cold water to cool it and mainly to get rid of the excess fat. She was very health conscious because she had RA. I continued this process because as a working mom, time was of the essence. Now I am teaching my retired husband, who has taken on most of the grocery shopping and cooking duties, to do the same.

    Reply
  16. Neta Ridinger

    I have always kept hamburger browned and frozen for easy quick meals! I use the little plastic containers but like your idea of zip lock bags! I also make a huge batch of meatloaf and freeze it in meatloaf sizes for my family in foil. VOILA! Quick meatloafs to either put in the crock pot or in the oven for a great dinner! Love your ideas! Keep em coming!

    Reply
  17. Teri

    Thanks for the crock pot idea! I’ve been rinsing my hamburger for several months now, then storing in freezer bags in the freezer too! I love it. I can buy the cheaper hamburger and rinse most of the fat out. I let it sit in the colander for a few minutes to drain better, then use a paper towel to push on it to squeeze more out before storing. I also spice it up while cooking it. Rinsing and draining doesn’t change the flavor.

    Reply
  18. Joyce Yoder

    I love pre browned hamburger and ground sausgae-have done it for many years! I like to do 5-10 lbs at a time, I do it in the microwave, takes about 5 minutes for 1-2 pounds, rinse, drain and package it in 2 cups portions in ziplocks. I do turkey breast in the crockpot, then shred and package that in 2 cup amounts-great as a sub for chicken in dishes! So much easier to do the mess all at one time and love to reach in and grab a frozen pkg, zap in micro 1-2 minutes and ready to use in recipe! I also like to bake bacon in the oven, then freeze flat on cookie sheet, then put in ziplocks! Keep up the great work, Jill!

    Reply
  19. Sandy

    I am going to have to give this a try! I wouldn’t be able to rinse the hamburger, however, because we live out in the country and have a septic system, so I never put grease or oils down my drain. Instead, I get a big glass bowl and line the bottom with aluminum foil – then I place my colander on top and put in my browned hamburger. I let the bowl with the foil in it sit out overnight and the next day the fat has hardened in the foil and I just crumple it up and throw it away.

    Reply
    1. mdoe37

      I also have septic, but have never clogged a drain rinsing. I spoon out as much fat as I can first. When you put your meat in the colander, you could run a bit of hot water over it. After it solids up, dump it in a zip bag.

      Reply
    2. Lori

      When growing up, my dad was in the Air Force and my mom always drained the hamburger in a colander with a small metal mixing bowl underneath and then froze it. Whenever she made it again, she’d used the same bowl until it was relatively full. I’ve had septic systems for the last twenty years and do the same thing but but a paper towel bunched up in the bottom to avoid splashing and when it’s full I sit it in hot water for a few seconds and it dumps right in the garbage. (Usually do this the night before garbage day.)

      I’m definitely going to do this today with the crock pot. My son will be freaked out when he goes to thaw hamburger and it’s already done!

      Reply
  20. mdoe37

    I used to precook/freezer burger when I worked outside the home. I realized after the 100th time of scraping a rock of hard meat that I was trying to re-invent the wheel every time. I added onion, celery and sometimes a bit of green pepper as well.

    Regarding food temp. I don’t know. I also make meatloaf and freeze, throwing the “brick” into the crockpot before I left for work on low. Never had any issue with it. I’ve thrown in frozen chuck roasts, chicken parts, and pork steaks. If you put a perfectly thawed piece of meat in the crockpot before you leave for work, it will be quite done when you eat. Setting a timer means its not even starting to cook until later.

    I wonder how many people truly got sick from low temp cooking, cross-contaminating equipment, or (a new one for me) touching the meat before all those smart people had to tell us different. They seem to have a different story line every year…. probably reporting their “new” findings just in the nick of time to request new study funding…..so they can continue working and “testing”. Your best judgement will probably be better than a government guideline most days.

    Reply
  21. Joyce Pierce

    Sometimes I buy 20# of ground beef at a time. I cook it, put it in mason jars, and can it. This would be a great way to cook at least some of it to speed up the process. Nice thing about canning the meat is that you can pull it right off the shelf and don’t have to use up freezer space. Living in hurricane country, I try not to depend on my freezer in case of power outages.

    Reply
  22. Lisa

    What a great idea! I’m starting a new job tomorrow and won’t have the time I used to for meal preparation. My husband has volunteered to take over the cooking duties, bless his heart! With this method, he won’t have to worry about dealing with “rock meat” or resorting to eating out when it’s his night to cook. I still plan to cook, so this will be a huge help, plus dinner will be ready when I get home in the evening. Thanks for the great tip!

    Reply
  23. Patty

    First oh all….duh! Why have I NEVER thought of this???? I feel silly after all the complaining I do regarding the defrosting and browning of hamburger all the time, as my teenage son lives on Hamburger Helper yet screws it up all the time, so it’s left to me, the person with no time! I’m raiding the freezer as we speak to put all of it in the crockpot!
    As far as the slow temp cooking? I’m not going to bounce around the web, but it’s been done for SO many years that it would never cross my mind for a second that crock pot cooking is unsafe. I agree with MDOE37. Too many “studies” that come up with something new every week to scare us and most are silly.
    Rinsing the meat? YES! But not at first! Drain, then rinse. It wont hurt your septic system at all.(ANY pipes would get clogged that way!) You’re just getting the excess grease off. You can substitute fattier (hence cheaper) meat then also and won’t know the difference in casseroles.
    Nutrients being lost? What nutrients? Hamburger is not known for being a healthy product. And you can’t rinse protein away.
    So VERY happy I found this site!
    Thanks Jillie
    One more hint I found; when draining grease, put your colander over a bowl lined with foil and drain into that. Let cool, wrap up foil, and dispose of. Might be well known, but is by far my most favorite hint I received this year!

    Reply
  24. lisa

    This is fantastic! Am definitely doing this. What a timesaver. I ALWAYS rinse my meat under water. My Aunt showed me this 35 years ago, Have never had a problem. Who needs the calories? Thanks for all your info Jillee! :) Great blog!

    Reply
  25. Anne H

    This is such a good idea! I am over the need to cook for 6 or 8 people but still like to make up meals in advance so I will use this. One thing I ‘d like to add…I use very low fat ground beef and at just about the end of cooking I add a heaping teaspoon of beef granules to the meat in the pot. It gives it much more beefy flavor that is lost in low fat meats but without any added fat.

    Reply
  26. Connie in FL

    Great idea to buy and cook a 5# load so hamburger in your crockpot. Will have to do this to get more organized. I would take the storage part a step further and use a foodsaver to bag it, then freeze it and thaw in water right in the bag…or place in pot of boiling water and thaw and cook that way. I have found that if you look carefully you can fin foodsaver machines at thrift stores and sales on the bags come pretty frequently online. Also can store in mason jars which you also seal and freeze!

    Reply
  27. Barbara

    Tell me why I haven’t made your site my default browser home page? I end up here every day as it is, so I think I should just start my day here and let you plan it for me, because that’s what happens so often anyway! I just took ground beef out of the freezer, and now I’m going to go get some more, and put it in my slow cooker. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

    I AM using your recipe for laundry detergent. It works.

    I AM using your recipe for Oxyclean. It works.

    I AM using your recipe for dishwasher detergent, but making the tablets was a failure. They broke up. I use it by measuring tablespoons full anyway. It works.

    Reply
  28. Michelle Cusick

    This is exactly what we do but we take it a step further. We usually do about 30lbs in the roaster……then after a good rinse we’ll dehydrate it. 30lbs fits nicely into our Excalibur type dehydrator. We have a Cabela’s brand. (which we use all the time and it is wonderful). You won’t have to take up room in your freezer. Store in old jars, vacuum sealed or not…it doesn’t matter. To rehydrate it just add hot water and you’re in business! Coming home from work and making supper won’t get much easier than a pot of water to boil spaghetti, rehydrated ground beef and a jar of sauce. Hurry….it is already on the table!! :)

    Reply
    1. CTY

      WOW! How long will the dehydrated meat last? What are the pitfalls to watch out for? What size canning jar for 1 lb meat after dehydration? Sounds like the perfect camping food. What is the meat to water ration? 1:1?
      Guess who’s going to Cabela’s.

      Reply
  29. Debbie

    I brown hamburger, rinse, and store in the freezer all the time. Never thought of the crockpot. So excited to try this. One comment — I have seen people comment that they are taking hamburger out of the freezer to take advantage of this idea. I don’t think it is recommended that you refreeze meat. This should only be used for hamburger that you have purchased fresh.

    Reply
    1. Patti Krause

      Debbie, meat that’s been frozen may be re-frozen after it’s been thoroughly cooked. The cooking kills any bacteria in the meat, so the re-freezing is okay. I would suggest not handling the cooked meat other than to spoon it into the bags or containers, or leaving it out for very long after cooking. I usually leave mine in the crockpot with the lid on just until it’s cooled down enough to put in the plastic bags. It can be put into a large chest type freezer even if it’s still a bit warm so long as you distribute it around the freezer, not jut all in one spot.

      Reply
  30. Audrey

    I do this and it works great with hamburger, but mostly I do it with ground turkey. Another thing I do is cook about 2 to 3 pounds of dried beans and freeze them in ziplock bags using about 2 cups per bag then freeze them flat. So good for recipes that call for a can of beans and so much cheaper.

    Reply
  31. Tammy

    Hi Jillee,

    I really enjoy your blog, and as a frugalist myself, have found even more ways to save money than I already was! Also love the DIY’s and ideas and recipes you always share. I have to say though, regarding the browning the hamburger in the crockpot, that I’m not sure that this is the most frugal or even the easiest and quickest way to do it. Considering the power used for at least two hours worth of having the crockpot plugged in, and simply the waiting of 2 hours, it’s much quicker and just as easy to throw all the ground beef in a pan or stockpot and brown it on the stove. I’m not sure I understand what the value would be of using the crockpot for this?

    Reply
  32. Norma-Jean

    I have pre-cooked my ground beef for years. I buy a large package or two of ground beef at Sam’s Club. When I get home, I stand and brown it in my electric frying pan. I have also rinsed it in a colander for many years – we don’t need the extra fat calories. There is still some fat on the meat after rinsing. We can’t tell any difference in the taste. I weigh out the cooked ground beef on my kitchen scale, and put one pound into a zip top freezer bag. I always label the bag and write the date on it. Into the freezer it goes, flat – easy to store.

    I can make any number of recipes with my pre-cooked ground beef. It just takes a few minutes to unthaw -either in the microwave or frying pan. Easy for weeknights when everyone is busy and tired!

    Reply
  33. CTY

    Nice Post. Anything that helps me organize or plan ahead in any area of my life is a huge blessing. Anything that is this versatile is a miracle! I am a big planner–I do it because when things go awry (which seems to happen more & more) I always have an “ace up my sleeve”.
    My big ground meat time saver is this. I mix up the ground meat with bread crumbs,egg & seasonings I split the meat–Most of that gets made into small meatballs that I pre-cook, divide meal size amounts into canning jars & freeze. The rest gets a few added ingredients and is shaped into a couple of meat loafs & frozen. Naturally, the day I do all of this we have meatballs for dinner.
    Meatball Dinners include: spaghetti & MB, MB sandwiches, Swedish MB, MB w/biscuits & brown gravy, MB & mushroom fettucini, Thai sticky MB, sweet & sour MB, MB mac & cheese, well–pretty much anything you do with ground meat. I have even filled par boiled peppers with the MB, adding cooked rice to fill the gaps, topped with sauce & baked.
    Meatballs are great for the unexpected guest because people always say “oooh meatballs” and never say “oooh ground meat”.
    Sometimes I slice the meatballs to layer lasagna or put on pizza.
    Meatballs can also take potatoes, pasta or rice as a side–make a salad & ring the dinner bell.

    Reply
  34. STACEY

    First, crockpot vs stove. On the stove, it has to be watched not so in the crockpot. As for draining the meat, I use paper towels in a bowl to catch excess oil so as not to clog pipes. After about 10-15minutes, I used a paper towel to push/squeeze excess out then I dispose of said paper towels and rinse my meat (in strainer) under HOT water for a minute or so. Doesn’t clog my pipes now and when we were on septic, it wasn’t an issue either……that’s my beef….
    Stacey

    Reply
  35. gail

    You’ll forgive me if I don’t run right out and take care of the frozen hamburger. I don’t even buy a pound of hamburger…never mind 5 lbs! And crock pot? Had one years ago, and seldom used it…DI!! That’s what happens when you are old and live alone.

    Reply
  36. Lee Ann

    That is brilliant, I never remember to take anything out of the freezer for dinner @5 am when I’m leaving for work. I will definately give this a try!

    Reply
  37. deb in texas

    about re-freezing hamburger: i’ve always understood that if you change the “condition” of the hamburger it is fine to refreeze. like, cook the hamburger and refreeze it. it IS bad to refreeze it if you haven’t cooked it.

    Reply
  38. Nikki Webb

    I love this idea! Great to do on the weekends to prep for the week. I have done this on the cook top but take in one step further…I season it with the taco seasoning and then freeze it. Even quicker when you need it.

    Reply
  39. Becky (yes, another one)

    I believe the rinsing of the meat started with Weight Watchers. I heard it there 30+ years ago..Great ideas! Thanks Jillee and everyone!

    Reply
  40. kay

    Hi Jill
    I love, love, love your blog. I have found so many wonderful tips, recipes, and great ideas. Thank you for all of them and this wonderful blog. I love the thought of cooking hamburger in the crock pot. I am going to try it the next time I need ground beef. I just wanted to also leave a tip for your readers, I was getting ready for church and I put cube steaks in the crock pot, and I knew I needed to also have mashed potatoes fixed for lunch too, so I peeled my potatoes and put them in my other crock pot, and when I got home from church everything was cooked. All I had to do was mash the potatoes and fix a vegetable. So easy!!! I never thought about cooking potatoes in the crock pot. They turned out wonderful!!! Has anyone else done this??? Have a wonderful day and many blessings!!!

    Reply
    1. Krystal

      Love the idea of crock pot cube steaks! Would you pass on the particulars of your recipe, please? The potatoes, too! Suggestions are great, but I need the directions -lol!

      Reply
  41. Karen

    Getting this e-mail today was great. We just bought 80 pounds of hamburger from Sams Club yesterday and I have been struggling to get it all browned and put away. Mondays are bad for me because my girls have dance, but I can do this while we are gone. I love all your other ideas also!!

    Reply
  42. Lauren

    Here’s another vote for the PC Mix n Chop. It is the *only* thing I’ve found that will break up pork breakfast sausage without ruining a spatula. Seriously worth the investment!

    Another tip for defrosting is to put enough water in your sink to mostly cover the frozen item and leave the faucet on a *very* slow, light drip – just enough to move the water a bit. Water is a better conductor than air, and the movement in the water will help the food thaw super fast. If I can remember to start this by 4, I’m usually ok to start cooking by 5 with defrosted meat – just depends on how thick the frozen vittles are. :)

    Reply

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *