It’s the end of a super long week. I’m driving home with a screaming baby in the backseat, and all I can think about is putting him to bed and spending the evening soaking in a hot bath while browsing Pinterest. Phone rings. It’s boyfriend. “Ryan, what’s for dinner? There’s nothing to eat here.” This is honestly one of the most annoying things anyone can say to you at the end of a long day, especially when you know there’s a refrigerator and pantry full of food. But instead of copping an attitude and launching a verbal attack, you’re cool, calm, and collected, because you’re prepared. Your freezer is stocked.
I learned the importance of freezer ready food when I was a new mom working fifty-hour weeks. No one at the office cared that it was after five and I had a new baby or a hungry family waiting for me at home. It was disheartening, but it made me a better, more prepared mommy and cook. On the weekends, I’d prep things for the week ahead, chop onions, gather ingredients, marinate, and season, so putting dinner together at the end of a long day would be simple as possible.
And the smarter I got, the better my freezer became. I’d make larger batches of meals than necessary and freeze the leftovers for easy defrosting. Eventually I started preparing meals exclusively to freeze. I’ve done everything from chili and soups to pastas and pizza dough, and most recently burgers, which have been the most popular, hands down. They’re quick to cook in single serve portions, and don’t require a real defrost period. From freezer to skillet, your burger is done in fifteen minutes flat. And then you’re free to put the baby to bed and relax in a hot bath with your iPad, a glass of wine, and some home décor inspiration. Mission accomplished.
What You’ll Need:
1 pound of lean turkey meat
One medium to large diced onion
Tablespoon of minced garlic
Any handful of chopped fresh parsley or basil. Or both.
Salt and pepper
What You’ll Do:
Add all the ingredients to a large mixing bowl, and get to mixing! Although it’s messy, I prefer to use my hands to incorporate ingredients into my ground meat. It get’s everything well mixed while not over-manipulating it to where it can become tough.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Scoop out about three tablespoons of your ground meat mixture and lightly roll it into a ball, and flatten into patties in your palm. Line the patties up (not touching) on the baking sheet. Use parchment paper in between any layers, none of the burgers should be touching one another.
Place the baking sheet in the freezer for at least a half an hour, or until the patties are totally frozen. Once frozen, the burgers should slide right off the parchment paper. Place in a freezer safe bag for later!
- I typically use lean turkey meat for my burgers because I like the fat to protein ratio, and it does well in the freezer. But you can definitely use any ground meat you have on hand- chicken, regular hamburger meat, sirloin, whatever. I’ve done it all. (Well everything but veggie burgers. I haven’t reached that level of burger finesse yet. But soon!)
- If you’re using chicken or turkey, I recommend not making your burgers with any more than three tablespoons of the meat mixture. Any more and the patties start to get pretty thick, requiring a longer cooking time after they’ve been frozen. A longer cooking time can result in a burger with a perfectly seared outside, but a potentially undercooked center. Salmonella anyone?
- When you’re ready to cook your burgers, just remove as many as you need, and place them in a skillet over medium to medium high-ish heat, no defrosting needed. They take about six to seven minutes on each side, to ensure thorough cooking. Top with cheese (if you’re cool), and let them rest for a few minutes while you prep your bun and toppings.