Tasty, Tangy Meal Options the Kids Will Love
Ground beef, aka hamburger, is one of those meal staples that's great to buy in bulk when it's on sale, because it can be frozen and then thawed when needed. It's also excellent for Crock-Pot dishes that cook while you're busy with other activities. Unlike some other meats, ground beef is best when it is browned in a pan before you add it to the slow cooker, as this allows you to drain excess grease before making the meal.
1. Crock-Pot Sweet Sloppy Joes
Sloppy Joes are the perfect quick meal, whether you're serving lunch or dinner. Make these sweet sloppy Joes by browning ground beef in a skillet, cooking until the meat is no longer pink. Drain off excess fat, then transfer the beef to a Crock-Pot. Add chopped onion and celery, along with ketchup, mustard, brown sugar, salt and pepper. Cook on low for 4 to 5 hours, and then spoon into hamburger buns.
2. Mexican Lasagna
Kids who like Italian and Mexican food will love this dish that melds the two. Make Mexican lasagna by mixing 1 tablespoon of powdered taco seasoning with cream cheese, sour cream and refried beans. Brown 2 pounds ground beef; drain excess grease, then stir in taco seasoning and water. Spoon salsa into the bottom of the Crock-Pot, then add a layer of uncooked lasagna noodles, followed by the bean mixture, beef, corn, olives and shredded cheese. Repeat all layers, including the salsa, twice. Cook 3 to 4 hours on high, and then scoop portions onto plates and enjoy.
3. Coney Island Hot Dog Sauce
Make a hot-dog day extra special by whipping up a batch of Coney Island hot dog sauce. Kids who enjoy chili dogs will love these, too. Brown ground beef with an equal amount of water, adding diced onions and minced garlic as the hamburger meat cooks. Drain the excess liquid, then pour in tomato paste, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and water. Add chili powder, salt and pepper; stir, then pour it all into a Crock-Pot, and cook on low for 2 hours. Place the hot dogs in buns, and then spoon on the hot dog sauce and any other toppings the kids enjoy.
4. Crock-Pot Salisbury Steak
If Salisbury steak is one of the kids' favorite school-lunch menu items, you're in luck. This Crock-Pot version is ultra easy to make and requires no prebrowning of the meat. Mix 1 pound ground beef in a bowl with a packet of onion soup mix and 2 eggs. Pour 1 can of mushroom soup into the Crock-Pot. Then form the beef mixture into 4 to 6 patties, setting those into the pot as well. Pour another can of mushroom soup over the patties; cover, then cook for 2 to 3 hours on high. Dinner is served.
Kathy Adams is an award-winning journalist and freelance writer who traveled the world handling numerous duties for music artists. She writes travel and budgeting tips and destination guides for USA Today, Travelocity and ForRent, among others. She enjoys exploring foreign locales and hiking off the beaten path stateside, snapping pics of wildlife and nature instead of selfies.