Remember that sauce we made last week? You know, the one that I insisted we start with as we cook through Fix, Freeze, Feast? Well, here’s where you get to be glad that you have all those bags of red sauce in the freezer.
My family (and the family we shared with) were delighted with this dish. We all thought it was simple, tasty, and comforting without being excessively fattening. I loved the crunch of the onions and bell peppers. My kiddos particularly enjoyed the black olives. They had treasure hunts in their dinner to find them, and complained that so-and-so got more black olives than they did. I may consider adding extra black olives next time.
Source: Fix, Freeze, Feast by Kati Neville and Lindsay Tkacsik
- 6 pounds organic ground beef
- 24 cups Basic Red Sauce (p 178) thawed
- 12 cups cooked white cooled about 4 cups uncooked or brown rice
- 1 large onion chopped
- 2 organic green bell peppers chopped
- 7 oz canned sliced black olives
- 12 cupsshredded cheddar cheese (about 3 pounds) (or dairy-free alternative)
- 12 one-gallon freezer bags label 6
- 6 one-quart freezer bags
1. Brown beef in a large stockpot over medium heat until no longer pink, about 20 minutes. Drain and discard fat. Let beef cool. Divide evenly among the unlabeled one-gallon freezer bags.
Obviously, you may choose for yourself where you buy your beef and what type you buy. We have a very tight budget, but I believe that good meat is worth investing in. So I do. Of course, you will get the biggest dollar savings buying your meat in large trays at the warehouse store. Occasionally you might catch a sale on organic ground beef at your grocery store, in which case you should definitely stock up. The cheapest place for me to buy organic meat, when I can’t find a sale (and when we’ve eaten all the ground beef from the half-cow we bought last fall) is a small, local butcher who sells locally-raised, organic (but uncertified) meat. So that’s where I went.
2. Into each bag of meat, measure 4 cups red sauce and 2 cups cooked rice. Divide the onion, bell peppers, and olives evenly among the bags of meat and rice.
Here’s where you get to learn from my mistakes (again). I was sharing one of these entrees with a large family, and I wanted to have leftovers for my family. So instead of bagging 6 entrees that would serve 6-8, I decided to make 4 entrees that would serve 8-10. The bags ended up so full that I thought they would burst in the freezer. I managed to do it, but only just. And I don’t recommend it. From now on, I’ll be sticking to the recommended serving size.
The original recipe called for 3 smaller cans of sliced olives, but I found a large can that was of equivalent size and used that instead.
3. Seal bags, removing as much air as possible, and massage gently to distribute the ingredients.
My bags were too full to do any “gentle massaging”. I mixed things together with a spoon before closing up the bags.
4. Divide the cheese (or dairy-free alternative) among the one-quart freezer bags and seal. Place one bag of meat and rice and one bag of cheese into each labeled one-gallon bag.
I don’t typically buy pre-shredded cheese because I don’t care for all the stabilizers and anti-caking agents that are usually added. In this case, though, I decided to give in. Because the alternative was to shred 12 cups of cheese with my food processor, which just sounded like more work than I wanted to do. I suppose that I could have frozen the main dishes without the cheese, and then shredded what I needed when I baked it. But I really like the idea of having everything that I need for the dish right there and ready to go.
I bought a 5-pound bag of shredded cheddar from our local warehouse store (which, by the way, was almost half the cost of a 5-pound bag at the grocery store). At home, I portioned it into 5 freezer bags, each with one pound of cheese. I bagged what I needed for this recipe, and then put the rest of it in the freezer.
I also put in a small bag of my favorite dairy-free brand of cheese, since I can’t have dairy. So half the dish gets cheddar, half the dish gets Daiya. And we all get dinner.
5. Seal and freeze.
Ta-da! I was so tired from wrestling with my over-stuffed bags that I didn’t attempt to put on the pre-made labels. These guys got labeled the old-fashioned way.
1. Thaw completely in the fridge. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Put meat and rice mixture into an ungreased baking dish and sprinkle with the cheese. Bake, covered, for 30-40 minutes, or until sauce is bubbling and cheese is melted.
- 3 bags of Basic Red Sauce
- 2 bags of Spanish Rice