Make-ahead Taco Meat
I’m always looking for new ways to make the meal prep and planning easier. Lately, my big thing has been to cook just once a week. Try to cook just once a week, really. It never seems to work out perfectly. In theory, though – if I cook 7x the amount on a recipe – one for supper that night and six for the freezer, I should eventually be cooking just once a week. Right?
Taco meat is just about the easiest thing to cook in bulk and freeze for future use. The last time I did it, I tried a few new tricks and it worked like a dream. If you’re going to start tweaking your budget and meal planning, this is where I would suggest you start.
I would recommend making a single pound of meat first, to make sure you and your family like it, and adjust the recipe accordingly before you tackle 10 or more pounds of meat. It’s a huge bummer to fill your freezer with food that no one likes!
Here’s the recipe for a single batch:
1 pound ground meat (I get frozen ground turkey at Aldi for $1.39/pound)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
However, for 10 pounds of ground meat, use:
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons chili powder
2-1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
2-1/2 teaspoons onion powder
2-1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
2-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons paprika
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons salt
3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon black pepper
Put thawed ground meat in crock pot. Add ½ – 1 cup of water, to help steam the meat. Cook on high for a few hours, and then break it apart with a potato masher or fork. Add the taco seasoning, mix, and cook a few more hours until done (this really only takes a few hours! If you cook it on high all day long, I think it will be too overdone. This is a good one to have going in the crock pot when you’re not going to be gone all day).
Allow taco meat to cool, then put in freezer safe containers, squeeze out the extra air and seal, and then label and date (you might thing that you will remember what this is and when you put it in the freezer? Trust me, you will not. Label and date it. Please). I am constantly trying to use less plastic in our house, but I do still use quart size freezer bags for freezing taco meat, putting a pound in each bag. Freeze them flat in the freezer, and they stack up nicely, saving space.
Voila! That’s it! Make a big batch of this, and freeze it in individual pounds portions. Pull some out once a week (or every night, if you have big taco fans in your house?) for a nearly-done meal. I promise you, your budget (and chedule!) will thank you!