Freezer Cooking with Ground Beef and Turkey (Recipe: Lawnmower Taco)

My fourth son is rather picky. This is his very favorite meal in the whole wide world: Lawnmower Taco. It is pretty fab, if I do say so myself. And very freezer-friendly. For more budget-friendly foods that kids love, go here.

Lawnmower Taco | Life as MOM

As I mentioned earlier this week, I planned several freezer meals using ground beef and turkey. While we prefer the taste of ground beef over turkey. However, my reading would say that a little less beef in our diet might be better for us. So, I tried to substitute some turkey for beef in my June cooking plan.

Ground meats lend themselves so well to freezer cooking. Whether precooked or not, meals made with ground meat do really well.

Inexpensive Sources of Ground Beef

My target price for ground beef or turkey is $2 or less per pound. This is generally not possible to find in my area unless I find the meat on sale or marked down. Costco sells lean ground beef regularly for $2.99/pound, ground turkey for $2.29/pound. A good sale in these here parts runs about $1.99 per pound. This past week there was no good sale, so I bought a combination of turkey and beef at Costco. With that ten pounds, I prepared Round One of my June Freezer Cooking Plan.

I knew that I wanted to make a few more beef items later in the week, but unfortunately, Wednesday’s sales weren’t very promising. However, a trip to the grocery store on Wednesday night revealed a sweet deal. I found ten pounds of ground beef for $1.49! Whoo hoo!

Good Cooking

So, once I found my beef for a good deal, I got to cooking. I did two rounds of freezer cooking.

Round One

  • Meat SauceI made a variation on my red sauce by adding cooked, ground  turkey. This simmered on the stove while I prepared the other items. Then, I divided it into quart containers, cooled them, and froze it.
  • Hamburgers – I used three pounds of ground beef and seasoned them with salt and pepper. Then I divided the meat into 12 portions and flattened them into patties. I flash froze them just until they wouldn’t stick together in the freezer. Then I stored them in a gallon-size freezer bag.
  • Chimichangas – These are actually frozen burritos that we can microwave or crisp on the griddle at serving time. I used seasoned taco meat, homecooked pinto beans, and grated cheese. I soften the flour tortillas by warming them on the griddle so that they don’t crack when they roll them. And I’ve found Steamy Kitchen’s way of rolling eggrolls to be an excellent way to roll burritos. (Just imagine that her egg roll wrapper is round, not square.) I stored these in freezer bags.
  • Lawnmower Taco – This is a simple casserole my kids love. We called it Lawnmower Taco since it, well, looks like a taco that got stuck in a lawnmower. It’s a recipe that many of you have requested. How could I resist?

Curious about freezer cooking? Consider purchasing my cookbook, Not Your Mother’s Make-Ahead and Freeze Cookbook from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or your local bookstore. It’s chock full with over 200 freezer-friendly recipes, planning pages, shopping lists, cooking plans, and basic and advanced how-to’s to making freezer cooking work for any home, family, and lifestyle.

Coming up Next: More Ground Beef Freezer Meals

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Comments

  1. What a great deal on the hamburger meat! We always get extra lean and/or lean and it can get pretty pricey so finding it on sale is very exciting. :D

  2. Thanks for the recipe! Can’t wait to try this!!!!

  3. Lori Hurley says:

    I accidently joined your freezer challenge this morning. I was making your basic pancakes and thought, “I have a big family; I’ll double it.” lol!!! I guess I should have read the bottom for the number of pancakes it makes. 50 pancakes later, the kids (all five) had them for breakfast AND lunch and I have 30 left in the freezer for next Saturday or sometime during the week. My daughter said I should have made 50 more. HA!

    The pancakes were GREAT! I can’t wait to try the lawnmower casserole. I think my kids will really love that!

  4. Thank you for sharing this recipe! I actually made it tonight and both my 15 month old and 3 year old liked it plus a pregnant friend (who is not liking much food lately!) all enjoyed it. I love kid friendly meals!

  5. I just made this tonight and we all loved it! The kids ate their entire dinner with no complaints and in under 5 minutes. a MIRACLE in our household! Thanks!!

  6. Thanks for the lawnmower casserole recipe! Sounds yummy…and a great way to use up the accumlated tortilla chip bits at the end of the bag I’ve been collecting for a while now!

  7. I’m making this tomorrow – sounds great! I have one question though, does the chip layer get soggy when making this recipe to freeze for later?

  8. I was wondering the same thing, do the chips get soggy after you bake? We tried something similar to this a few years ago and didnt like it because the chips turned to mush.

  9. Thanks for sharing this recipe! We just tried it tonight as part of our Pantry Challenge (I got tortilla chips for $.25 last week so I have a good stockpile, plus a freezer of beef). Everyone liked it, one boy even said it is now his favorite meal!

  10. Love the lawnmower taco idea! I’m going to have to give that a try– (I’m totally hooked on your enchiladas by the way- and I use the recipe for enchilada sauce that one of your commenters left!)

  11. For those of you who are concerned about the chips getting mushy – whenever we make taco meat we cook and season a double batch and freeze the leftover. It freezes beautifully and once you have the meat cooked & seasoned making the casserole when you want it would hardly take any time.

  12. Stacey K says:

    Thank you so much for this recipe! I made it last night for my son’s first birthday party, hosting both sides of the family. It was a big hit! My husband told me not once or twice, but three times that he liked it. :) It is definitely going on our favorite meals list!

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      Yeah! I made it the other night and for some reason, one child wasn’t around when we dished up. It was all gone! You should have seen his face! Clearly I need to make it more often.

  13. Kathleen says:

    Made this for the first time tonight–perfection! Got boys home from school at 4, browned beef while oldest did his homework, steamed some edamame, sliced some tomatoes, and had the kids seated eating dinner by 5:15–plenty of time to finish and get the oldest to his Little League game at 6. Not only was the casserole tasty–it was FAST, too, and a great way to use up those tortilla chips that had been hanging around. Thank you! Look fwd to trying more of your recipes. :)

  14. I made Lawnmower tacos last week during my freezer meal frenzy!! We ate them last night and they were delicious! My kids 9, 7, & 4 said Momma you have to make these again! Thanks so much for the recipe!

  15. I substitute turkey for hamburger fairly often. If I season the meat more with things like garlic and Italian seasoning, I think it usually tastes almost as good. I never really thought of just mixing them up though. I’ve also found some good ground turkey recipes, particularly this one, which I love: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ellie-krieger/moms-turkey-meatloaf-recipe/index.html

    Thanks for the recipe. I’ll try that soon since I have all the ingredients. I make a similar dish, in concept anyway, with chicken and a white sauce with tomatoes, layering with meat, cheese, and chips.

  16. Tricia says:

    I see your sale ground beef came from Albertsons. I buy it there all the time. They have to sell off the freshly ground beef every night or the next morning depending on the particular store site. You can call ahead and ask if they have any ground beef they are marking down and what time they are putting it out on the floor. Most times when I call ahead and ask, they will hold some for me. I have bought up to 30 lbs at a time to cook up for tacos, spaghetti, lasagna, make meatballs and meatloaf, hamburger patties, etc. I’ve been doing this for about 10 years, when it would be marked down to 99 cents/lb, now it has creeped up to $1.69/lb, but still the best deal in town.

  17. Sounds like a recipe my kids will like – looking forward to trying it- question since it sounds like the chips get soggy (love the different comments about that!) has anyone tried using ones that are a bit stale? I’m not sure it would make a difference if they aren’t going to be crispy anyway??
    BTW – love the idea of saving the ends of the bags of chips, my kids like them with hummus & salsa so we have tried a couple different “flavors” & I bet a mix of similar flavors would add a little “zip” too…

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      Yes, it’s a great way to use stale chips. That’s what I do with that bag that went blah.

  18. Loved it. We added Spanish rice and black beans to the meat after it simmered. Yum

  19. I love the idea of ground turkey i might have to try that. my pickiest eater is most defiantly my husband but just like my kids if i don’t tell him whats in it he will never know! lol when he went in for a check up 6 mos ago the doc told him he was getting high blood pressure so i cut out most of his salt, started cutting down on red meat, and just meat period in things he will never know like chili and such, and added kale into everything and he never knew until he went is for another check up and it was down! lower than it had been 4 years ago! Then i told him ha!

  20. Here it is hard to find good deals on ground beef. I can rarely find it for less than $4/lb. However I got lucky this week and found super lean (93% & 96%) ground beef marked for quick sale, and was able to get 11 lbs for around $2.85/lb. I am a ground beef snob, and rarely buy less than 93% lean, I’ll drop to 90% if I’m desperate. But I read once that the reason they know the percentage of fat in ground beef is not because they take more fat off the leaner packs, but because they ADD LESS FAT to the leaner packs. I was a meat snob before, but after I read that and realized I have no idea where that “extra” fat is coming from, I can’t force myself to go with the “bargain” packages.

  21. I made these today and they were great, my 5 yo said they are awesome! He is so picky too. I had enough for two meal , eat one and freeze one. Thanks for the recipe!!

  22. Thanks so much for this recipe! There are very few things that I can make that a) the whole family likes or b) I can make more than once a month and not hear, “but we just had thaaaat”. Lol! The first time I made it, my family of two adults and four teenagers, had eaten all of it and were clamoring for more before I had even had any! So now the recipe always gets doubled and made in a shallow roasting pan!

  23. I want to make this tonight but its in my freezer – can I just increase the cooking time, or does it need to be thawed first?

  24. I LOVED lawnmower tacos. This is a keeper.

  25. What does the meat sauce consist of when you say to layer with sauce and cheese?

  26. Jessica Fisher says:

    That is in the beginning of the recipe when you brown the meat and add flour and broth to it. It creates a meat sauce.

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