Semi-Homemade Meatloaf

meatloaf, carrots and potatoes on a wooden platter

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Semi-Homemade Meatloaf

Have you ever ‘found’ a recipe out of necessity?  A recipe that will please even the most selective eaters?  This is mine, Semi-Homemade Meatloaf. When the kids were youngins it was a challenge to prepare meals both little hearts would enjoy.  It was a delightful victory to have them clean their plates! Better still, if they asked for seconds!  

What’s a Parent to Do?

Does this seem all too familiar?  Yes, well I have a recipe that may help, I’ve prepared a more traditional style meatloaf before. You know, the kind topped with ketchup.  No matter how I seasoned it, it was never well received or eaten. Yeah, the adults would eat it up, but not the little ones.  There were times I’d feel like a short order cook. Fixing an adult meal and something else for the kids. Sound familiar?

 

Grocery Shopping

I couldn’t tell you how many times I’d walked past the Seasoning Mix section while grocery shopping.  I’m Italian and the women in our family whipped up the most delicious meals and the men were masters at the grill.  My father was a butcher and co-owned a local grocery store. My parents co-owned an in demand catering business. So, there was no lack of tried and true traditional recipes.  

Thinking back on the day I didn’t walk on past the Seasoning Mix section, brings a smile to my face.  I recall feeling like a traitor and hoping no one, meaning someone from my rather large italian family, would witness my betrayal.  Yet, there I was and my eyes fell on a meatloaf mix packet. I was delighted when the mix listed ketchup as optional.  

Embracing Semi-Homemade Meatloaf

I selected a seasoning mix from McCormick.  At that time, it came with a transparent oven bag. This was my first introduction to both a seasoning mix and oven bags.  Little did I know, that this combination was soon to become part of my ‘favorites’ list. A combination I would use many, many times over the following years.  

Ingredients

The ingredients were simple and most were in my pantry and refrigerator.  You’ll need the seasoning packet, 2 pounds lean ground beef, 2 eggs, ½ cup milk and ¼ cup dried bread crumbs.  Yep, that’s it. Pretty simple, right?

The first time I prepared this I made only the meatloaf in the oven bag.  Fixing the potatoes, carrots, onions and bell peppers separately.  

Dinner was a huge success enjoyed by both the adults and children!  Yes, that’s right…imagine my delight. I’d prepared an easy, cost effective dinner and my selective eaters enjoyed it, asked for seconds and “drum roll”…. Didn’t complain at eating leftovers!  

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Preparing Semi-Homemade Meatloaf

The directions instruct combining all of the ingredients together in one large bowl.  I tried that one time, the first time. Although it was a success, I found areas within the meat that didn’t contain any seasoning and I felt it was overworked and not as tender as I believed it should be.  

Now, I combined the wet ingredients and whisk them together first.  Then add to that the seasoning mix and Italian style bread crumbs, then mixing all the ingredients together.  I’ve always used Progresso’s Italian Style bread crumbs. I then pour this mixture over my ground beef and mix together thoroughly.  Mixing  but not overworking it. It’s the overworking that can make it less than tender.

Place an open oven bag into your baking dish and form the meat mix into an oblong loaf.  Seal bag with the tie provided and puncture fork holes in the top area of the bag. I usually do this in three locations, front, middle and back.  Just stay away from the sides as you do not want to lose any meat juices.  

If you follow the packet instructions you’re now ready to bake it for 1 hour in a 375 degree preheated oven.

Progresso Bread Crumbs

Recipe Modifications

I prefer ‘all in one’ meals and quickly modified this recipe.  Additions include: Yukon gold potatoes-estimate 1-1.5 per person, cleaned, peeled and quartered; One 1 pound bag of baby carrots, washed and dried;  A green and a red bell pepper, clean and sliced; One yellow onion, sliced thinly; The seasoning packet calls for extra lean ground beef or turkey (I’ve never tried the turkey).  I use a lesser lean ground beef. More of 75 to 80%, lean and 20 to 25%, fat.  

Using a large mixing bowl combine all the prepared veggies, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste, mix together and set aside.

Prepare the meatloaf as described above, forming into a loaf, place into an oven bag lined baking dish, leaving enough room to place the potatoes and veggies around it.  I’ve always used Reynolds Kitchen Oven Bags, in the large size or you can use another of your choosing.  

My first layer of veggies is always the potatoes.  We enjoy the way they bake up and the added flavors from cooking in the meat fat and juices.  I’ll add in the baby carrots, layering the onions and bell peppers over everything.  

Then place filled baking dish into a preheated 375 degree oven for an hour.  

Then remove from the oven and allow to rest for 5 to 10 minutes before cutting open the oven bag and transferring everything to serving bowls or platters.  Take care when opening the oven bag as the contents are hot and the bag may be full of steam.  

Nothing looks prettier than placing the meatloaf in the center of a large platter and surrounding it with all the veggies. 

Final Thoughts

This is a simple, easy and delicious recipe.  Prep time is minimal and about ½ hour. Gotta love that!  At least I do. Plus, clean-up is a snap! You could easily make a salad and add french bread, cornbread or dinner rolls to round out the meal.  

This recipe serves a family of four and there are usually leftovers for another night or mix it up and make meatloaf sandwiches.  

There have been many times when I’ve divided the recipe in half, made one and frozen the other half for another night’s dinner.  When freezing wrap in parchment paper, then foil and place into a large zip lock baggie.  

We hope you’ll make our Semi-Homemade Meatloaf and that you, your family and friends will enjoy it many times.

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