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30-Minute Meals With Ground Beef

by Kathleen Gasior, studioD

Your freezer's stocked with ground beef, but the kids are sick of hamburgers and tacos. Ground beef is a nutritious protein source, but it can be tough to come up with meal ideas that you can serve to your hungry bunch after a busy day. For easy planning, make ground beef night on a certain day or two each week. Add a few quick-cooking strategies and whip up a delicious ground beef meal in under 30 minutes.

Pre-Cook Ground Beef for Quick Meals

Cook and drain ground beef and store it in the refrigerator or freezer until you need it. Quickly defrost frozen meat in the microwave or toss pre-cooked beef from the fridge right into a sizzling pan. If you thaw the ground beef in the microwave, cook it immediately to prevent foodborne illnesses. Add other quick-cook ingredients like pasta, vegetables and seasonings, and you've got a satisfying, nutritious meal.

Seasoned Ground Beef Meals

Use your pre-cooked, seasoned beef to prepare chili-mac casserole, sloppy Joes on soft wheat rolls, or ground beef stir-fried rice. Add a salad and your favorite dressing, and you've got a complete meal. If your clan loves Mexican, make cheesy quesadillas with seasoned ground beef and serve with salsa and sour cream or ranch dressing for dipping. Round it out with a store-bought, fruit-chunk salad for a light but delicious meal. For a quick dessert, slice pound cake and serve with a scoop of ice cream.

Make-Ahead Meatball Meals

Ground beef can be a great start to make-ahead meatballs. Forget the mess of frying and draining and bake them instead on a cookie sheet in the oven. Or, combine ranch seasoning mix to the ground beef and simmer the meatballs in beef broth on the stove. Freeze them in bulk until the day you need them -- they will thaw in the fridge while you're out for the day. After a long day, make spicy, saucy meatball sandwiches on soft rolls, Swedish meatballs over egg noodles or quick penne with meatballs. Serve with a green salad and creamy dressing, baby carrots or sliced tomatoes. Satisfy your sweet tooth with oatmeal raisin cookies and milk for dessert.

Quick and Hearty Beef Soups

A large can of beef or vegetable stock or family-sized can of tomato soup can turn your pre-cooked seasoned beef or ready-to-go-meatballs into a warming soup meal. Try hamburger soup with pasta or Italian wedding soup with meatballs and white beans. Toss in raw spinach or arugula right before serving; it will cook in the hot broth. Serve with a crusty loaf of bread and herbed olive oil for dipping. Add almond cookies and fruit for dessert and collect your kudos.

About the Author

Kathleen Gasior has over five years of experience as an editor, reporter and columnist for a chain of weekly newspapers in Northern New Jersey including the "Warren Reporter," "Phillipsburg Free Press" and "Belvidere News." She has been writing for over 30 years. Gasior has a Bachelor of Social Work from Monmouth University and over 25 years field experience. Gasior is also trained in cosmetology.

Photo Credits

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