This dual purpose meat mixture is the perfect recipe to add to your freezer cooking repertoire! Whether you make meatballs or meatloaf, your budget can benefit from bulk pricing and you can take a load off, knowing dinner is done.
As you probably already know, stashing a few meals away in the freezer can be a godsend for future busy nights. By prepping ahead you become your future self’s very best friend.
One of the tricks of freezer cooking is to choose recipes that build around similar ingredients. For instance, when you see chicken on sale, cook it up and make chicken pot pie, chicken soup, and shredded chicken to use in chicken salad.
Likewise, when you see a great deal on ground beef or turkey, mix up a big bowl of this versatile meat mixture to use in meatballs and meatloaves.
Versatile Meat Mixture
For as long as I’ve been freezer cooking, I’ve been regularly making up a big batch of meat mixture. I’ll buy the big flats of ground beef from Costco, dig my biggest bowl out of the cupboards, and mix up the meat with egg, seasonings, and either bread crumbs or minced mushrooms.
The resulting mixture is super flavorful and can be divided into both meatballs and meatloaves.
How do you make meat mix for meatloaf or meatballs?
The basic ingredients for meat mix include:
- ground meat, such as beef, pork, or turkey
- chopped onions
- beaten eggs
- herbs and spices
- breadcrumbs, rolled oats, or minced mushrooms
The process for making the meat mix is simple:
- In a large bowl, beat the eggs. Add the meat, onions, herbs, spices, and breadcrumbs (or oats or mushrooms).
- Mix just enough to distribute the ingredients throughout. Over mixing can make the mixture tough.
- Divide the mix into meatballs or meatloaves according to your preferences.
What can I use as a binder for meatloaf?
Beaten egg helps hold the meat together as do bread crumbs, oats, or minced mushrooms. I prefer to use mushrooms as they add a delicious umami touch.
How much meat mixture does this make?
This recipe makes 4 meatloaves, about 40 meatballs, or some combination of the two.
It’s a great recipe to use when you find ground meats on sale and want to fill your freezer with some ready to go meals.
How to make this good and cheap:
Here are some of the strategies you can use to make this recipe more economical:
- Stock up on ingredients when they are on sale. When I find regular kitchen staples on sale, I buy a lot. I’m currently using a price book to track prices and that’s saving me money.
- Cook in bulk. When you cook in bulk, you are maximizing your time investment as well as the energy you use to heat the oven. It doesn’t take that much longer to make a bulk batch of something, and you reap the time savings in weeks to come.
How I make this recipe easy:
This recipe really couldn’t be easier than it is, but having the right kitchen tools can really make your time in the kitchen more enjoyable. Over time, I’ve honed my collection so that they are perfect for my needs.
Here are the tools that I use for this recipe:
- plastic cutting boards – I have blue boards for veggies and white boards for meat.
- Ergo Chef chef’s knife – I’ve had my set for several years and they work well.
- Pyrex snapware – I love these glass dishes with easy, snap-on lids.
- freezer ziptop bags – These are a mainstay in my kitchen for freezer cooking!
Versatile Meatball / Meatloaf Mixture
- 4 lb ground beef
- 3 cup fresh bread crumbs
- 6 egg beaten
- 1 onion chopped
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoon dry parsley flakes
- 1 tablespoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Don’t mix too much, just enough to distribute ingredients throughout mixture.
- Form into meatballs or divide into four parts and form four meatloaves. These are not very salty meatballs, since you will serve them with sauce or gravy.
- For meatballs, bake in 350° oven for 15 minutes or until cooked through for meatballs. Cool, label, and freeze.
- For meatloaves, wrap, label and freeze. When ready to serve, thaw and bake 45-60 minutes or until cooked through.
I keep coming back to this post. If only I had a working printer, I could keep this recipe handier ? Just wanted to say, this is a brilliant idea to make this mixture and use it one or both ways. I now always have this in my freezer plus the ingredients are easy to keep on hand as well. Thank you!!
Yay! So glad it’s working for you.
Does anyone know of an app we can use to store all these fine recipes? It would be so nice if I could copy and paste in my own cookbook.
I use Evernote
I use Paprika Recipe Manager. I use a Mac computer, iPhone & iPads. They have apps for all of them. It’s really nice to add recipes on the computer & it automatically updates on all the platforms. I have been using it for years & have 24,454 recipes in my database. They update it often & it’s a great program. It also has a recipe planner, pantry & shopping list built in. Great for shopping. It also has a browser built in that lets you download recipes from websites (that’s how I got so many recipes).
I LOVE these meatballs!! I made then a year ago, frozen them, and they were perfect to throw in marinara or whatever! I even made mini-balls for my toddler who was starting on finger foods! She loved them! I would heat them up in the microwave with a splash of apple juice to keep them moist. Even really good by themselves! I lost my link to this post and finally just found it again!! Cannot wait to make these again and have ready in my freezer!!!
So glad you liked them!
You mentioned these on your whole30 plan. What did you use instead of breadcrumbs?
I just omit the breadcrumbs. It doesn’t have quite the same texture, but it works.
How do you wrap your meat loafs? I see issues with all the ideas coming to my mind…. wondering what experience lends. They are NOT in a pan I am guessing?
No, I wrap them in foil and unwrap to back in a 9×13 or 8-inch square.
I like to buy ground meat in bulk and make meat loaves and meat balls and freeze. Also brown several pounds of the meat and freeze for chili, tacos or whatever you use it in. makes it easier to make a quick meal
Do you think you could use fresh parsley instead of dried? Would the amounts be the same? Freeze okay?
Yes, that will be totally fine. That’s actually how I adapted it in my freezer cookbook.
I remember learning about less mixing = more tender
In order to save time and mental energy, can I pop all the un-meat ingredients into a food processor together, pulse a few times, and then hand mix the result into the meat?
I’ve never tried that, so I can’t say for sure. You could try it and report back? 🙂
Just made a half a batch of these as meatballs for the freezer to try them out. Next time I’ll b making a full batch 🙂 My husband and I fight over meatloaf recipes so to find something we both like was great! Thanks so much.
Had these the other night with spaghetti squash, red sauce, and broccoli. So good. Was thankful for the ONE leftover the next day. LOL Glad you like them!
Can you freeze these meatballs uncooked? How about substituting oats for the bread crumbs?
I have never done either of those. But, you could certainly try. If you do, let us know how it works out for you!
I made them with 3 c. of regular rolled oats instead of the bread crumbs, and they were great! Nothing crunchy in there at all.
Mary Jo @ Covenant Homemaking
I was wondering–have you found a way to make egg-free meatballs/meatloaf since your youngest was diagnosed with an egg allergy?
My husband is off of eggs as we’re doing an elimination diet to see if we can help his asthma, and he really enjoys meatloaf. I’ve been trying to find a recipe since there are so many foods he likes that he can’t have!
I do something different everytime, sometimes it’s add more liquid, like milk, or sometimes just omit it. I imagine flax seed meal + water would work in this instance as well. I haven’t made them in a long time, so I can’t remember. Sorry! I know how hard it is.
I have two children with egg allergies and one with wheat allergies. I make meatballs and meatloaves with ground oatmeal and no eggs. Works out great for us! I don’t add any liquids, etc to compensate.
I put shredded zucchini in my meatballs to avoid the egg. Just be sure you add extra breadcrumbs and get the consistency right enough so they will bind together and not fall apart.
my husband has allergies also. He took lots of meds daily w/o relief. We went lo carb and he had no symptoms at all. A few weeks later he needed tests and between 2, the tech told him to go get a quick burger and come right back to finish testing…immediately the allergies were back, within 10 min it was just the same as before low carb.
We finally learned he was allergic to the bleach in flour. Who would have thought????? We now use Einkorn wheat berries for all our baking bready things.
When I have cooked ground beef (seasoned or not), frozen it, then thawed for a recipe, it seems to have a stale or “old” taste to it. My husband can tell every time when I’ve used gb that was not cooked fresh. It doesn’t seem to matter if it is in the freezer a short time, or long time. I generally used zip top freezer bags. Any ideas of what I need to do differently? It is so nice to have the meat already cooked, but I have gotten away from doing it since he doesn’t care for the taste. Thanks for any suggestions you can offer.
I usually use plastic containers with lids. You might try that next time and see if it makes a difference.
Thank you, I will. Maybe that will help.
Has anyone tried these with ground turkey meat? I’m curious if they would taste pretty similar or not.
yes, I’ve made them with turkey.
Thanks so much, Jessica! Did you like them with turkey or did they turn out rubbery like the store-bought ones? Sorry to bother you; I just don’t want to waste 4 lbs of meat. 🙂
Other than the basic taste difference of beef v. turkey, I think it works fine. But, you could easily divide the recipe in 4 and make a small batch first.
I’ve never made a roux or gravy before and added the flour and broth in the wrong oder my first time around. It was lumpy and clear and runny, gross! I dumped it out and started over and my gravy was amazing the second go round.
I’m going to make these meatballs for our Christmas dinner, but I’d like to cook them in the red sauce? Should I freeze them raw or still bake them and reheat w/ the sauce? I want to make sure they soak up the yumminess of YOUR red sauce!
How do you thaw/reheat the taco meat? I am getting excited to try my first freezer cooking day.
I either thaw overnight in fridge or quickie in microwave to thaw/reheat.
About how many meatballs will this recipe make?
It depends on the size, about 48 medium sized. But, this batch made 2 meatloaves and 24 meatballs.
How do you re-heat the meatballs after you’ve frozen them??
On the stove in a pan with whatever sauce I’m going to use (red sauce or gravy).
I had a bunch of taco meet left over from a big party and have been using it in a ton of things. Spaghetti sauce, soups, stir frys, potatoes, salads, chili, omlets… the list is endless really. I have it frozen in gallon bags and it is loose enough to just break off. I sure is great for quick meals and of course, tacos.