Maria’s Homemade Meat Sauce (Make Ahead and Freeze)
There is nothing better than homemade meat sauce, cooked from scratch. There are countless brands of bottled and canned marinara sauces to buy. But I am highly sensitive to black and white pepper. This makes it pretty much impossible to buy anything packaged. Honestly, I am totally okay with that. Growing up, my mom always encouraged us kids to cook from scratch. Her spaghetti was by far my favorite. Now as a grown up, I don’t eat gluten because of intolerance, but I will cook a big pot of gluten free pasta or bake spaghetti squash to serve with my sauce.
Most of us have very tight schedules. I really don’t have the time (wish I did) to cook a real good sauce that has to simmer for 2-3 hours. But I’m picky and have to be careful with my food choices. That is why, most of the time, I cook a large pot of meat sauce and portion them out into freezer bags (containers) for future use. Cooking meat sauce is actually not that hard (compared to other gourmet meals), it’s just time consuming, if you want it to taste rich in flavor.
Cost and Products
- This recipe will give you approximately 1 1/2 gallon (6 liter) prepared meat sauce. I like to portion some of it out in smaller bags for a quick lunch for me, or larger for dinner size for the four of us. How you portion it out, is entirely up to you.
- The brands I use are the ones I really like. You can use any brand of your choice. Depending on what brands you use and if you use organic beef or not, this sauce will cost any where from $20-$24 to make. This breaks down to about $0.83-$1 per Cup. If you add the pasta and some cheese on top, you are feeding a person for less than $1.50 per meal.
- I always prefer using fresh garlic in my cooking. I feel the aroma and flavor is much better. Some people don’t notice a huge difference by using bottled garlic. And that’s totally alright.
- When freezing meat sauce, you can either use freezer bags or freezer proof containers. In this article I demonstrate with bags. It’s actually much easier to use containers.
- You can substitute the beef with ground turkey. Flavor of the sauce will be a little different, but it’s possible.
- I use tiny bit sugar in the sauce to balance the flavors and the acid in the tomato. I have to be careful with sugar, that is why I use monk fruit which is similar to stevia and has zero glycemic. Either one works great!
- The reason why I use both tomato paste and sauce is, because tomato paste has much thicker consistency and a richer flavor. I like to be able to control the thickness of my sauce. Tomato paste is a concentrated form of tomato sauce.
- Add Salt according to your own liking. I usually use less than more.
- You can substitute all the dry herbs with fresh. If you do, do not add them until few minutes before you are going to serve the sauce. Dry herbs need to cook longer to enhance their flavor, while fresh looses its potency real quick.
- Easy to cut this recipe in third and skip the freezing part. Just use 1 lb meat and adjust all the ingredients accordingly.
- I like to use a non stick pot while cooking meat sauce. Prevents from burning to the bottom while simmering for a while.
Maria’s Meat Sauce
Yield: 24 Cups or 1 1/2 Gallon. Prep Time: 5 min. Cook Time: 30 min-1 Hour
3 lbs Ground Beef
1/4 C Water (optional)
2 Can (6 oz. Each) Tomato Paste
5 Can (8 oz. Each) Tomato Sauce
3 Can (14.5 oz. Each) Crushed Tomato
6-7 Cloves Pressed Fresh Garlic
1 1/2 + Tablespoon Salt
2 Tablespoon Dry Oregano
1 Tsp Paprika
3 Tablespoon Garlic Powder
1 Tablespoon Dry Basil
2 Tablespoon Onion Powder
1 Tablespoon Chili (Mild)
1/2 Cup Olive Oil
1 Tsp Sugar (1/8 Tsp Monk Fruit)
5 Cup Water
2-3 Tablespoon Freeze Dried or Chopped Fresh Parsley
In a large pot, brown your meat on medium temperature. You can use a little bit of water (up to 1/4 c) or some olive oil if its sticking to the bottom. Brown until completely cooked about 5-10 min. Add all your dry seasonings and mix well. Meanwhile if you need to, add some more water to prevent any sticking (this moisture will eventually disappear in the sauce). Stir in paste, sauce and crushed tomato. Mix it well and add the 5 cups of water. Then add the olive oil, sugar and the pressed garlic. Stir gently and let it now sit and simmer for up to an hour (you can cut that time to 30 min). Few minutes before serving (or preparing for freezer), add the chopped parsley. Serve with your favorite side.
Cool down your sauce according to FDA’s proper two-stage cooling guidelines and portion the sauce into freezer bags or containers. Make sure the amount is right for one meal for the amount of people you are planing on serving to. I usually figure about 1 cup of sauce per person. Stir out all the air bubbles (containers) or gently press the air out (bags). I like to stick my filled bags in a larger bag for spill proof. Place your portions in the freezer. They will store about 3-5 months. When you are are ready to use it, just place the sauce in the refrigerator the night before and you can heat it up the next day. Make sure that you bring it to boil just for a minute or two (temperature needs to be 165 F).
This meat sauce works great for more than just spaghetti. You can use for any type of noodles as well as a lasagna sauce. Spaghetti squash is an excellent option for those of who have intolerance or trying to cut back on carbs. Either way, serve up and don’t forget your side salad (drizzled with olive oil) and enjoy the rich flavors and aroma of home cooked sauce.