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Growing up, I spent a lot of time cooking and baking with my grandma. She says she doesn’t remember how to cook these days, but once upon a time that woman sure knew her way around a kitchen! My experiences mixing, chopping, and tasting along side Grandma taught me so much and I’ll be forever grateful.
Being a lunch lady taught my grams lots of tricks for getting good food on the table fast. One of her tricks was keeping a freezer stocked with hamburger gravel. She’d spend an evening frying up a bunch, portion them into containers, and then she’d freeze them. She used her frozen stockpile for soups, stews, sauces, and other deliciousness. I’ve been making hamburger gravel, like my grandma did, since I was a newlywed. It’s so nice to have part of the work already done when it comes time for dinner.
There isn’t really a set recipe for hamburger gravel, it’s one of those things you just kind of wing. Pull out some ground beef, add some chopped veggies, saute, and freeze! It’s really that easy.
For this batch I used 5 lbs of beef, 3 onions, and a big bell pepper.
My grandma often just used hamburger and onion, but I like to sneak veggies in to just about everything so I add chopped bell pepper like my friend Maryann. The onion and pepper stretch my meat budget which makes me happy. You can chop the veggies as big or as fine as you’d like. If you don’t like peppers, simply leave them out. No biggie. I love what the added onion and pepper do to perk up spaghetti sauce.
Oh, and before I forget, if you don’t like ground beef you can substitute sausage or ground turkey.
I love to use my big cast iron skillet, but you can use any fry pan.
See, told you it was easy!
Once it’s cooked and slightly cooled, I portion out meat into quart sized freezer bags. I fold down the tops of the bags to keep the zipper seal clean, then stick the bag in an plastic container to steady it while I scoop in the meat. I usually fill about 2 cups per bag. Sometimes I use a gallon sized bag for prepping meals like enchiladas and tacos.
There really is no right or wrong way, do what works for you.
When the bags are portioned out, just stick them in the freezer! On busy nights, pull out a bag of hamburger gravel to make quick soups, spaghetti, lasagna, tacos, and more! It couldn’t be easier. For a lot of meals, you don’t even have to thaw it. Just open up the bag of gravel and toss it in! I realize the name “hamburger gravel” doesn’t sound all that appetizing but oh well, kids think it’s cool. So, yeah.
I know this isn’t much of a recipe, but I wanted to share it anyway because it’s so dang handy. Hope it helps make meal time a little simpler at your house like it has at mine.