So many recipes call for browned, ground beef. Taking the time to brown the meat and dirtying up another dish can make a quick and easy recipe a real chore. You can skip this step if you cook up a bunch of ground beef ahead of time and freeze it.

I do this with 3 to 5 pounds of ground beef at a time, then freeze it in portions. You can make any amount that works for you, and of course the amount of seasoning will depend on personal taste. These are the seasonings I normally use, but you should use whatever you like best.

Ground beef

Worcestershire sauce

Onion powder

Garlic powder

Cayenne

Oregano

Salt

Pepper

Preheat oven to 350-400. Place ground beef in a large glass baking dish and break up some with a fork. Add Worcestershire sauce and seasonings. Cover. Bake for 15 minutes. Stir with fork. Drain if it has produced a lot of grease. Cover. Bake until done. If you have a meat thermometer (and you should) check the temperature in the center of the meat. It should be at least 165. Drain. Allow to cool. Separate into meal-sized portions and freeze for later use.

Uses for pre-cooked ground beef

Now that you have several meals worth of ground beef cooked up and ready to go, what do you do with it? Here are just a few dishes that I make with my ground beef.

Beef stew. You can toss the frozen ground beef right into the water without having to worry about thawing it first. Throw in whatever vegetables you have on hand, they can be fresh, canned, or frozen. If you do not have any vegetables in the house and want something cheap and easy a can or bag of mixed vegetables will work.

Chili. Again, you can toss your meat in frozen. I make beanless chili. To make it quick and easy, toss in a can of diced tomatoes, a couple small cans of diced green chilies, and a can of pico de gallo. If you have more time, use fresh onions, garlic, chilies, and tomatoes.

Burritos. These can be as simple or complicated as you like. I like to use refried beans and cheese with my beef for easy burritos.

Spaghetti. Just add the thawed beef to your favorite jarred or homemade sauce. Try it with different pasta shapes, such as penne, or toss in some zucchini for more variety.

Lasagna. Remember, you don’t need to cook the noodles.

Quesadillas. Just as easy as cheese quesadillas when the beef is cooked ahead, but much more filling.

Creamed beef on toast. Heat the beef in a skillet. Add milk and flour to make a gravy. Serve on top of toast. Great for breakfast or anytime of day.

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