Meal-Prep Ground Meat Base

Choose from ground beef, turkey, or chicken to make this easy ground meat base for all sorts of quick meals throughout your week. For inspiration, try our easy recipes for cheesesteak-style quesadilla or baked Cavatelli. You can also use it in taco bowls, on pizza, and more.

cheesesteak-style quesadillas using ground meat base
Photo: Jacob Fox
Total Time:
25 mins
10 1/2 cups (three 3 1/2-cup portions)


  • 3 pound ground beef, turkey, or chicken

  • 1 cup finely chopped carrots

  • 1 cup chopped onion

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 3 tablespoon tomato paste

  • 2 tablespoon water

  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • ½ teaspoon black pepper


  1. In a 5- to 6-qt. Dutch oven cook ground meat, carrots, onion, and garlic over medium-high heat 8 minutes or until meat is browned. Drain off any fat.

  2. In a small bowl stir together tomato paste and the water. Stir tomato paste mixture, oregano, salt, and pepper into meat mixture.

  3. Divide mixture among three airtight containers or resealable plastic freezer bags, using 3 1/2 cups for each container. Store in refrigerator up to 3 days or freeze up to 3 months.

  4. If frozen, thaw in refrigerator overnight. Use to prepare Philly Cheesesteak-Style Quesadillas and Easy Baked Cavatelli.

Philly Cheesesteak-Style Quesadillas

In a 10-inch skillet heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil over medium. Add 3 cups sliced fresh button mushrooms and 1 1/4 cups each green bell pepper strips and thin onion wedges; cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove vegetables. In same skillet heat one-half portion (1 3/4 cups) Ground Meat Master Recipe over medium, stirring occasionally. Using four 10-inch flour tortillas, place 1 slice torn American cheese or 1/4 cup shredded provolone cheese on half of each tortilla. Divide ground meat and vegetables among tortillas. Top each with 1 slice additional torn American cheese or 1/4 cup shredded provolone cheese. Fold tortillas in half over filling.
Coat a 12-inch skillet with nonstick cooking spray; heat over medium. Add quesadillas, two at a time, and cook 6 minutes or until golden, turning once. Cut into wedges. Makes 4 servings (1 quesadilla each).Nutrition analysis per serving: 601 calories, 32 g protein, 48 g carbohydrate, 32 g total fat (15 g sat. fat), 98 mg cholesterol, 5 g fiber, 7 g total sugar, 36% Vitamin A, 33% Vitamin C, 1581 mg sodium, 59% calcium, 29% iron

Easy Baked Cavatelli

Preheat oven to 400°F. In a deep 12-inch ovenproof skillet combine one portion Ground Meat Master Recipe; 2 1/2 cups dried cavatelli or gemelli pasta; two 14.5-oz. cans undrained diced tomatoes; one 14.5-oz. can reduced-sodium chicken broth; 2/3 cup water; 1/3 cup torn fresh basil; 2 Tbsp. olive oil; 4 cloves garlic, minced; 1/2 tsp. salt; and 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, 15 minutes, stirring occasionally (pasta will not be tender). Top with 2 cups shredded Italian cheese blend. Bake 10 minutes or until pasta is tender and cheese is golden. If desired, sprinkle with additional basil. Makes 8 servings (about 1 cup each).Nutrition analysis per serving: 425 calories, 28 g protein, 40 g carbohydrate, 16 g total fat (7 g sat. fat), 62 mg cholesterol, 3 g fiber, 5 g total sugar, 40% Vitamin A, 11% Vitamin C, 846 mg sodium, 21% calcium, 22% iron

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

205 Calories
10g Fat
3g Carbs
23g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 12
Calories 205
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 10g 13%
Saturated Fat 4g 20%
Cholesterol 73mg 24%
Sodium 309mg 13%
Total Carbohydrate 3g 1%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 23g
Vitamin C 2.7mg 14%
Calcium 26mg 2%
Iron 2.8mg 16%
Potassium 464mg 10%
Fatty acids, total trans 1g
Folate, total 10.1mcg
Vitamin B-12 1.9mcg
Vitamin B-6 0.3mg

*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

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