Lessons in Time-Saving Food Prep: Frozen Meatballs

Kitchen, kid, chef.There are times when I want something home made and yet I want to put out zero effort. Since I’ve been put on timeout on the Sam’s Club chickens (I’m only allowed to bring one home every other week now), I had to find another multi-meal, quick prep option. My solution: meatballs!

I used to have to make them from scratch and freeze them myself (I have a rocking recipe that include spinach) because Mr. Rinaldi does not eat beef, pork, or any other red meat. So if we wanted turkey meatballs there was labor involved.

I have since discovered Tyson, Butterball, Jenny-O and Foster Farms all produce turkey meatballs. Here are some quick recipes – less than 30 minute to table. You can go turkey, beef, or homemade and freeze your own. Just make sure the meatballs are precooked.

Meatball Pizza: Use a Boboli pizza crust, a shmear of sauce, a bit of cheese and some fresh mushrooms and/or roasted red peppers, add some thawed and sliced meatballs – pop it in the oven at 475° for 15 or so minutes and you have dinner.

Summer Green and Meatball Soup: In a large pot, simmer 6 cups of chicken broth, 1 can of cannellini beans (rinsed), 4 to 6 cloves of chopped garlic and some whole meatballs, add 4-8 cups of any combination of the following torn into bite-size pieces – spinach, escarole, chard or kale (remove any tough stems). Simmer until meatballs are heated through and greens are wilted. Just before serving add 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice to the pot, season with salt-and-pepper to taste – optional Parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes.

Sweet-and-Sour Meatball Mess: When I got the recipe for this one after trying it at a potluck years ago I couldn’t believe it. Take a medium pot and toss in enough meatballs for 3 to 4 servings, add 3/4 cup ketchup, 1/4 cup grape jelly and 1/8 cup fresh lemon juice. Heat through the simmering. Serve with crusty bread and crudités.

Red Curry Meatballs: In a large skillet sauté one sliced onion, one sliced zucchini, 8 ounces of sliced mushrooms and a sliced red or green bell pepper in olive oil until tender. Add 2 tablespoons red curry paste and one can of coconut milk. Add the meatballs and season with salt and pepper and cilantro to your taste. Serve over rice or noodles.

Meatball Bahn Mi: Heat the meatballs in the oven, on stovetop or in micro. While meatballs are heating mixed together 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon garlic chili sauce (available in Asian markets or ethnic food aisle at your grocery), and 1 tablespoon lime juice. Spread on a split baguette and top with sliced meatballs, shredded carrot, cilantro sprigs and thinly sliced radishes.

What are some your favorite time-saving recipes?