Meatloaf is the American family staple. It has stood the test of time and has seen many facelifts over the years. One of my favorite ways to enjoy some leftover meatloaf is to dip a slice of meatloaf in a batter, deep fry it and smother it in gravy….oh it is lip smacking good! But that’s for another post 🙂
In and of itself, meatloaf is pretty basic. You have your choice of beef, some eggs, seasonings, ketchup and breadcrumbs. Form into a loaf shape(or bake in a loaf pan as my Mom used to do) and dress it up however you like. Mom grew up eating meatloaf with a ketchup glaze, I have some not so fond memories of scraping baked ketchup off the top of the meatloaf as a kid and now we just place a frozen meatloaf in the crockpot and let it slow cook all day! Amazing how things evolve…and no ketchup!
Yesterday Mom and I attacked a 10 pound tube of ground beef, purchased from Sam’s Club. It has been a while since we purchased one of those mamma jammas, mostly because of the price but after doing some calculation we found that per loaf, which can feed a family of five, is one frugal meal. This particular tube of meat cost us about $28US. For many folks that price alone is cause enough to not purchase it. But let’s take a look at how much three meatloaves cost.
For the sake of my sanity, we’ll say one meatloaf can feed five people(depending on how you cut it it could feed four to six). For our family recipe, which you’ll need to base the price according to your recipe, we used about 1 1/2 pounds of ground beef per loaf. For a grand total of 4 1/2 pounds of ground beef.
2.88 times 4.5= 12.96
That’s $12.96 for 4 1/2 pounds of ground beef. Now, divide that $12.96 by 3 meatloaves.
12.96 divided by 3= 4.32
That’s just the cost of the meat. Now divide 4.32 by 5.
4.32 divided by 5= 0.86
In the end that translates to $0.86 per person and bit more once you include ingredients. This is why meatloaf is such a frugal recipe! Sounds insane, my mind was blown away at just the savings we were putting into our freezer.
Even if you decided to make 10 one pound meatloaves you’re going to save more in the long run using a 10 pound tube of beef than buying your meat a pound or two at a time each week. But don’t let the possibilities stop at just a meatloaf…
Remember Chubby? Good ol’ Chubby lends so many possibilities. As I mentioned before we made seven meals off this joker yesterday. Seven meals that we could not have otherwise made if we had purchased seven pounds of ground beef anywhere else. Buying in bulk is not wasteful, it just takes some planning, some saving, and being willing to set aside some time to deal with the bulk food accordingly. In the past we have cooked up the entire tube and made ten packages of ground beef to be used in casseroles and skillet meals. There is a sense of security that comes with knowing you have enough meat to get you through especially if there comes a time when the money is a little tighter from one week to the next.
Now, I don’t have permission to share the exact meatloaf recipe with you all (Head Chef frowned upon it) but I can share the pictures so you can see just how easy it is to not only do one meatloaf, but to make three!
Mom’s Mom made her meatloaf with oats as the binder. That makes for a hard meatloaf, perfect for for covering brown gravy but if you’re wanting a more tender meatloaf then consider using soft bread crumbs. Put a couple of slices in the food processor and grind it up. We do this first before anything else. Next we love sneaking in vegetables into our food, plus we’re not big fans of chunky crunchy vegetables in our food. After processing the bread add in some onion and carrots. We have since learned that it is also best to add your eggs in with the vegetables at this point. It helps to break up the egg whites making it easier to incorporate it into the meat.
I am not certain about the size bowl we used, it could be a 12 gallon bowl I can double check that later. But it is necessary to have a large enough bowl for 4 1/2 pounds of meat, especially when it comes time to mixing everything together. After whizzing up the veggies you can see that we didn’t take it down to a pulp, we did it just enough to take everything down to diced/minced pieces.
We love garlic, and here my Mom is holding little prep dish of a thawed out cube of garlic. That would be roughly four to six garlic cloves minced. I like to pack minced garlic into ice cube trays, freeze them and keep a quart size bag of garlic cubes in the freezer. They are really handy about most of the time I’m cutting one in half or into fourths depending on what I’m making. Again, buying peeled garlic in bulk about once every two-three months is not a bad idea.
Me and my blue Nitrile gloves 😀 Love using those! Now the key to a tender meatloaf, other than using light breadcrumbs, is not over working the meat. Especially once it comes time to adding in those breadcrumbs. You can see in the first picture I’m just mixing up all the wet ingredients into the beef. The second picture we added the breadcrumbs after all the wet stuff was mixed in. Then gently folded the breadcrumbs into the meat mix taking care to not squish or squeeze the bread into the beef. You have to be gentle, as if you were folding in some whipped up egg whites into a batter. Be gentle.
We are lovers of Release Foil, especially when it’s going to be up against meat like this. Dole out the meat as evenly as you can, nothing has to be perfect just eye ball it.
Pat them out into a loaf shape and wrap up the foil around each loaf. This other picture kind of looks like our three loaves are wrapped together but trust me they aren’t 🙂
Mr. Spotty is our official food inspector, so he thinks! Personally, I just think he’s too curious about the wonderful smells that is meat. Precious baby 😀
Take each foil wrap loaf, wrap it in plastic wrap and finally wrap it in freezer paper, sealing it with freezer tape. Be sure to label what it is and include the date. Lay them flat in the freezer and presto! Three meals, one per month at roughly $2.00 or so per person!
You can bake a thawed meatloaf in a 350-375 degree oven, just line your baking pan with foil, cover the meatloaf with more foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes to get some nice coloring. Now when I was growing up we would eat boiled potatoes with this. It was a carry over from what my Mom grew up with and it’s as good as having baked potatoes. You could serve up some oven baked pocket potatoes and veggies for easy clean up, and steam up a favorite veggie or have a salad. Possibilities are endless!
At the end of the day, we were very pleased with the out come, knowing we were able to save the family a boocoo amount of money and we have meals for September, October, and November. It’s not only a great way to save money but it’s practical too! I can’t think of anyone that I’ve shared this method with in the past that to this day thinks is a waste of time or ingredients. Even when we first embarked on making multiples of meals to freeze I was skeptical in how this was going to save us money and time in the kitchen. After a year I became a believer and was able to see the savings and benefit from just taking a meal out from the freezer to thaw and bake up later in the day. Didn’t have to groan over what to make or worry about what to put on the weekly menu. It has become a time saver, a money saver and that makes this Momma happy happy happy!!
Have a blessed day 🙂