For those days you want to go on “automatic pilot” and SHAZAM, school lunches are done, stock your freezer with these healthy homemade frozen meatballs.
Yes, you could buy frozen meatballs but they are not likely to contain vegetables like the carrots or mushrooms featured in these recipes. And besides, these taste WAY better! Check out all the variations.
60% of kids don’t eat enough vegetables and fruit so adding shredded vegetables to everyday foods that kids already enjoy, like meatballs, can help.
Even my pickiest eater was OK with little flecks of orange carrot in his meatballs. When he asked, “What’s the orange stuff in the meatballs?“ I told him it was finely grated carrot.
I’m not a fan of tricking kids to eat their vegetables – kids are too smart for that anyhow and once they lose trust that you are telling them the truth they may approach eating with apprehension and for some kids that could be enough to reduce their appetite and make eating less enjoyable.
So what happened? He gave the carrot-speckled meatballs a try and likes them!
What school lunches would you make with meatballs? Share your ideas here. The more the merrier!
Kids Cook!* Kids love the rolly-polly step making meatballs BUT give them a one tablespoon measure so they are the same size, not golf ball and tennis ball sizes. Explain they need to be the same size to ensure even cooking.
- 2 lb (1kg) lean ground beef
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 cup (250 mL) dry bread crumbs (whole wheat preferably)
- ⅔ cup (150 mL) EACH finely grated carrot and finely diced onion
- 2 tbsp (30 mL) Worcestershire sauce
- ½ tsp (2 mL) EACH salt and pepper
- Lightly combine all ingredients.
- Use a 1 tbsp measure to scoop and form into about 60 1 inch meatballs or try the Speedy square meatballs method. Place in a single layer on 2 foil (spray with canola) or parchment paper lined rimmed baking sheets.
- Bake in 400°F (200°C) oven for 15 minutes or until digital thermometer inserted into centre of several meatballs reads 160°F (71°C). Colour is not a reliable test for doneness.
• Minimize freezer burn. Squeeze air out of the freezer bag before sealing.
• Lay cooled meatballs flat in freezer bags so they’ll freeze individually and thaw quicker too;
• Label the bag. Use cooked meatballs within 3 months
* These ideas are meant as a guide only. You know best what your child can safely manage. Make sure they understand your rules for working in the kitchen safely and always supervise kids in the kitchen.
Add to the basic recipe above:
- 2 tbsp pizza sauce and 1 tsp dried oregano. Serve with marinara (tomato) sauce or in Speedy meatball minestrone.
- 2 tbsp hoisin sauce and 1/2 tsp ground ginger or your favourite lower sodium teriyaki sauce. Serve in Asian noodle and meatball soup.
- 1 tbsp chili powder and 2 garlic cloves (minced). Serve with salsa or use as a pizza topping.
- Tweak Big Batch Carrot-Beef Meatballs Recipe (above)
- Swap carrot for 1 lb mushrooms (that’s two 227g small trays)
- Swap Worcestershire sauce for 2 tsp Italian seasoning
- Add 2 minced garlic cloves
- Finely chop mushrooms in a food processor then cook mushrooms in a large skillet over medium heat until brown, about 3-5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- Combine with remaining ingredients. Shape meatballs following remaining steps as listed.