Just what do you do with large quantities of ground beef when you find it on sale or buy it in bulk? A few years ago, I found a local market, Weaver’s Country Market, run by a wonderful Mennonite family who raise their own beef, pork and lamb, all grass-fed. I sampled the meat and now I purchase my meat from them in bulk, usually half a cow or pig at a time. If you’ve ever done this, you know that you can get an awful lot of ground beef from half of a cow.
Fortunately, I own a large freezer but I was still tasked with figuring out what to do with 50 lbs of ground beef.
Being a busy work-at-home mom, saving time is always a priority as well as serving decent food to my family. I took a serious look at what we use ground beef for and found a number of repeat items.
Because the ground beef I buy from this market is lean (90-95%), there is virtually no shrinkage so a pound is a pound. For our family of 4, a pound is adequate for most any meal. Here’s how I broke down and prepared 50 lbs of ground beef
Hamburger Patties – 10 lbs – A great way involve younger kids is let them get their hands in the in it. Have them mix your usual seasonings into the meat and form the patties. Then wrap and stack or store in freezer-safe plastic container. At ¼ lb each, this gives me 40 patties.
Meatloaf – 5 lbs – Another opportunity for the kids to get involved is to let them mix in your usual ingredients and make 1 lb loaves. I usually bake these and allow them to cool before slipping them into freezer bags. When you are ready to use them either drop them back into the loaf pan and heat in the oven or warm them in the microwave.
Browned Ground Beef – 20 lbs – Depending on your family’s preferences, there is a lot you can do with ground beef. It can be cooked and added to spaghetti, chili, stuffed green peppers and pasta dishes like Hamburger Helper. It can also be spiced up to be used as taco filling or nacho topping. I usually cook 5 lb batches in the crock pot. Simply drop the ground beef in, add a little water because this is so lean and the appropriate spices. Then I ladle the finished meat into quart-size freezer bags. Whenever I need to fix something quick, I pull out a bag and thaw it in the microwave, heat it through and the main part of the cooking is done. Of course you can do this on the stove top too if you prefer but cooking multiple batches of 5 lbs each can be daunting.
This leaves me with about 15 lbs which I leave in their 1 lb packages and store in the freezer for miscellaneous uses. Of course your menu is likely different and you may prefer to use more or less for any of these categories or come up with a few of your own.
I spend about 2 hours on this process not including slow cooking time during which I can do other things. If I were to just put all 50 1-lb packages in the freezer and cook them as I go, it would take up considerably more time.
Start the crock pot first as it takes the longest, usually 4 to 5 hours. If you own more than one, fire them all up putting a different blend in each crock pot.
Make the meatloaves next so they can bake while you are processing the rest of the meat.
Use a small food scale to get 1 lb measurements when you are ladling the meat into storage containers otherwise you may up with too much or too little for your finished recipes.
Label the freezer container bags clearly. Defrosting meat seasoned for tacos when you’re planning to make stuffed green peppers could be an unpleasant surprise.
Store any meat not being directly processed in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it. As soon as the ground beef is cooled, package it and put it in the freezer.
For tips on purchasing ground beef that’s right for your needs, read Amy Brantley’s “Shopping for Ground Beef”.
Source: Personal Experience