Make Ahead Cooking : Ground Turkey 3 Ways

Ground Turkey 3 Ways with Printable Guide via Clean mama

Make ahead cooking and bulk cooking is a must for getting dinner on the table in our home.  One of my favorite methods is to figure out a couple recipes that can be made semi-simultaneously in an hour or so.  Ground turkey 3 ways is just that – three basic components with simple ingredients that create a handful of meals to stock the freezer.

Simply follow these step-by-step directions and you’ll have made three different types of turkey meals for the  for at least 6-8 meals for 4-6 people in the freezer in about an hour!  (Don’t worry – I have a step-by-step printable guide at the end of the post for you!)

Start with these ingredients:

  • about six pounds of ground turkey – divided in half (I used a 6+ pound package of 93% lean ground turkey from Costco)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepperBrown and Season Ground Turkey - via Clean Mama


Scramble half of the ground turkey with garlic, salt and pepper – cook thoroughly.  TIP:  use a potato masher to stir and mash the ground turkey as you are cooking it.

Drain any liquid.

Take out half of the cooked ground meat and place in a freezer safe container or bag. Allow to cool completely before putting in the freezer. This is your all-purpose ground turkey mixture – use in tacos, pasta sauce, chili, burritos, burrito bowls, etc.

Simple Turkey Lasagna via Clean Mama


Gather ingredients:

  • about a pound and a half cooked ground turkey – this is what you have left in your pan
  • 1 jar red sauce
  • 1 jar white sauce
  • ½ cup pesto
  • 30 oz. ricotta cheese
  • no-bake lasagna noodles
  • 4 cups mozzarella cheese and 1 package (12 slices) sliced provolone cheese
  • parmesan cheese

Taste the cooked meat and add salt and pepper and Italian seasonings if necessary. Add white and red sauce to leftover meat in saucepan. Simmer on low for 15 minutes.

Combine ¼ – ½ cup pesto with 30 ounces ricotta cheese.

Use 2 baking dishes – I used a 9×13 pan and an 8×8 baking pan – add sauce to bottom of each pan. Layer noodles, ricotta/pesto, grated cheese and repeat until all ingredients are used up. Sprinkle parmesan cheese on the top.   Add plastic wrap and foil to seal; label and freeze.

Baked Turkey Meatballs via Clean Mama


Gather ingredients:

  • 3 pounds ground turkey
  • ¾ cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup half and half
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon dry parsley
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl until thoroughly combined, but don’t overmix.

STEP 10:
Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.

STEP 11:
Line 2-3 baking sheets with foil and parchment paper – spray with cooking spray.

STEP 12:
Scoop with a small scoop or use a tablespoon and form into balls with your hand.

STEP 13:
Place turkey meatballs on baking sheets and bake for 15-20 minutes or until cooked through.

STEP 14:
Cool thoroughly and place in 2-3 zip top bags and freeze until needed. I like to put the meatballs in barbecue sauce and serve as an appetizer or as an entrée with mashed potatoes or a meal with pasta sauce. You can also make a cream sauce and make it Swedish meatball style. The options are endless!

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Go here to grab your 2 page FREE step-by-step guide for making ground turkey 3 ways.

(Please note: You’ll need to put the printable in your cart and checkout – it’s still FREE – once you create an account it will save any free printables and you can come back and access them anytime. Upon checkout you’ll see the link for the free printable AND it will also be emailed to you automatically!)

Add these make ahead meals to a quiet afternoon, evening, or weekend afternoon – the small amount of time invested is totally worth it!

Interested in other posts about menu planning and make ahead cooking?  Go here to see other posts!

Ground Turkey 3 Ways via Clean mama

4 Ways to Add Structure to Your Menu Plan

4 Ways to Add Structure to Your Menu Plan via Clean Mama

Eager to try out menu planning after reading last week’s post and looking for some ideas to get you started? These are four of my favorite methods to make meal planning, prep, and dinner a little easier. Choose one idea to implement, or all four. Either way, you are guaranteed to make dinner time run all that much more smoothly.

Double Duty Dinners:

One of my favorite short cut methods to menu planning is double duty dinner planning. Essentially, this is utilizing a cook once, use twice mentality.  This also works well when I double a recipe and freeze one meal and eat one.  I use the frozen meal on those nights when all I have is 5 minutes to get something in the oven.  Thinking ahead is the key to double duty dinners – it doesn’t take that much more effort to cut and prep extra vegetables, cook two portions of meat or prepare double the amount of ingredients that would go in to another night’s dinner.  Here are some of my favorite ideas for utilizing this method for meal planning:

  • Roast two chickens and have one for dinner one night, and shred or cut up the remaining one for dinner the next night. Perfect for salads, shredded meat sandwiches, tacos and any other recipe calling for cooked chicken.
  • Brown up a double batch of ground turkey or beef. Perfect for spaghetti or tacos one night and anything calling for ground meat the next. I also like to have browned ground meat in the freezer for those last minute dinners ready to go.
  • It sounds fancy but it’s not: mirepoix. This is the oh-so-common blend of onions, carrots and celery that goes perfectly in soups, pot pies and stews. (Hello, crock pot!) I do a combo of two parts onion, one part carrot and one part celery. One night might be chicken pot pie while minestrone is on the menu later in the week. This combo can also be frozen.
  • Pork tenderloin is also ideal for double duty dinners. It can easily be cooked in the crockpot or oven and is simple to prepare without a lot of fuss. I love pork tenderloin one night followed by sandwiches or a stir fry another night.

Slow Cooker Dinners:

The humble slow cooker is every person’s savior at the end of a busy day. With some planning the night before or the morning of, it’s easy to put all the ingredients in in the morning to be welcomed by a fantastic meal in the evening. We enjoy slow cooker meals on those days where my afternoon meal prep is limited due to activities or not being home.  Here are some of my favorite slow cooker meals – perfect for busy nights or lazy weekends.

15 Minute Dinners:

There are days or even weeks where you may not have a lot of time for meal prep before dinner. I like to have some super fast yet healthier options that don’t require fast food runs, boxed or canned food or unhealthy meals. For us, these meals are some of the kids’ favorites- go figure!  Here are some of our go-to ideas:

SALAD BAR: We utilize this meal when our produce drawer is getting a little too full of random vegetables or we have leftover chicken from another nights meal. I love using a box or bag of greens and simply wash and prep all those veggies that are just hanging out. I put everything out in bowls for everyone to make their own salad, making sure that there is protein included somewhere like meat or cheese to fill up those tummies.  Burrito bowls are another fun option if you have some leftover browned, ground meat, add some beans to stretch it out and turn it into a yummy burrito bowl.

SANDWICH BAR: This is similar to our salad bar routine where everyone can put together their own sandwich. The options are plentiful – lunch meat, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, cucumbers etc.  If you are feeling extra fancy, try a panini bar with your favorite spreads like pesto or tapenade.

STIR FRY:  Stir fries are a quick, easy and one dish kind of meal. All a stir fry needs is a sauce, protein, veggies, and rice or noodles (we love buckwheat Soba noodles at our house).  Check out this post with all sorts of stir fry prep and freeze ideas and a FREE printable.

Themed Dinners:

If you or your family are fans of predictability, theme meal planning may be perfect for you. Using this method, each day of the week is assigned a theme and dinner is planned accordingly. For example, Monday may be pasta night, Tuesday salad night and Wednesday pizza night. Looking for some themes to get you started?  Here are a couple ideas for inspiration:

  • Meatless
  • Italian
  • Slow cooker
  • Breakfast for Dinner
  • Pizza
  • Grilled
  • Salad – just about every Monday is salad night at my house
  • Soup/Stew
  • Casserole or hot dish
  • Leftovers
  • Mexican
  • Kids Night (kids plan and prep or kids choice)
  • Sandwich
  • Chicken

 Have a tip or idea to add?  Leave it in the comments!

Quick Prep Meal Starters for the Freezer + FREE PRINTABLE LIST

Quick Prep Meal Starters for the Freezer + Free Printable List via Clean Mama

I love cooking and baking but figuring out ways to spend less time in the kitchen is important to me.  Prepping for meals is easy when I have a couple easy meal starters at the ready in the freezer.  This is the best way to simplify busy weeknights and still get a healthy meal on the table for our family.  Today’s post is intended to help you think about ways to simplify your meal planning by planning ahead a bit and doing a little quick prep to stock that freezer.

My latest addition is a huge hit in our house and a super yummy one-bowl meal with lots of room for variation.  I’ve been making stir fry veggie bags and I have to tell you it’s the perfect quick prep meal starter.  Choose your family’s favorite veggies – I like using squash (yellow and green), red onions, mushrooms, asparagus, peppers, broccoli, and snap peas.  The options are endless and really depend on your taste and supermarket availability.  I use the stir fry veggies as a side dish – tossed with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper.  Better yet, I also add the veggies to a protein like chicken or steak and add a stir fry sauce and serve with rice or Soba noodles.  So good and so easy.

Quick Prep Meal Starters for the Freezer + Free Printable List - Stir Fry Veggies + Free Printable List

If you haven’t tried doing some quick-prep work for the freezer, you’ll find that it’s so much easier than prepping entire meals because you can prep for multiple meals at a time and cut your cooking time down to minutes.  Here’s a great list to get you started!  Choose one or two things to try in the next week or two to load up your freezer.  I like to add a little bit every week and it makes meal planning and preparing so much easier.  Enjoy!

Quick Prep Meal Starters for the Freezer via Clean Mama

Download this FREE printable Quick Prep Meal Starters for the Freezer List here!

On the Menu Clean Mama Printables

If you like this free printable, you’ll love the Everyday Menu Planning Kit in my shop.

8 Slow Cooker Recipes that Will Change Your Menu Planning

8 Slow Cooker Recipes that Will Change Your Menu Planning via Clean Mama

Fall and winter just beg for crockpot or slow cooker meals, don’t you think?   This little round up features some of my favorite tried and true slow cooker meals, sure to inspire you to do a little meal planning.  (Recipes appear in order – top down and left to right.)  Here’s a link to a FREE printable to use for your menu planning!

  1. This hearty, mellow chili simmers away all day for the perfect not-too-spicy, family friendly chili. Beef or poultry options! Via Mel’s Kitchen Cafe
  2. Spaghetti and meatballs are a family favorite and make for an easy, filling meal. These turkey meatballs are the perfect accessory to a big plate of spaghetti. Via Sally’s Baking Addiction
  3. These Honey Balsamic Pulled Pork sandwiches are the perfect riff off of a classic pulled pork sandwich. Topped with an easy Asian slaw, they make for an ideal dinner for a group of people or your family with plenty of leftovers. Via Brown Eyed Baker
  4. Chicken Fajita Tostadas are the perfect marriage of fresh and simple. Top with your favorite fajita fixings for a tasty dinner. Via Six Sister’s Stuff
  5. This hearty Tuscan soup couldn’t be easier. Simply place all the ingredients in your slow cooker in the morning for a filling, healthy soup come dinner time. Via Six Sister’s Stuff
  6. Who says that slow cookers are just for dinners? This filling Banana Nut Oatmeal makes for an easy, hearty and filling breakfast. Perfect for those busy mornings! Via The Lemon Bowl
  7. This tender, juicy and incredibly flavorful balsamic glazed pork loin continues to be a family favorite. The fact that it is fancy enough for company and can be made in the slow cooker? That makes it all the more wonderful. Via Mel’s Kitchen Cafe
  8. Fresh lemon, rosemary, garlic and a whole chicken combine to make for an incredibly delicious, simple and satisying meal. Serve with a fresh salad and vegetable for a delightfully tasty meal. Via No. 2 Pencil

Follow me on Pinterest to see what I’m pinning (and cooking!).  If you like this post you might enjoy 8 Make-Ahead Meals that Will Change Your Menu Planning.



FREE Make-Ahead Menu Recipe List Printable

Organize Your Menu Planning with this FREE Printable Make-Ahead Recipe List via Clean Mama

Make-ahead recipes are my saving grace in the kitchen.  Yesterday I shared 8 of my favorite make-ahead recipes and today I thought it would be fun to share a free printable to jot down make-ahead recipes to try or just to keep as a list.  Use it in your recipe binder or in your homekeeping planner – but the next time you’re trying to plan out your menu for the week, take a peek at the list and you’ll have some easy recipes to get you started.

FREE Make-Ahead Recipe List via Clean Mama

I’m a bit of a cookbook collector/hoarder – these are my 4 favorite make-ahead cookbooks…. America’s Test Kitchen’s Slow Cooker Revolution Volume 2; The New Slow Cooker; Williams-Sonoma’s Food Made Fast Make Ahead (hard to find); and The Best Make-Ahead Recipe.

Favorite Make-Ahead Cookbooks via Clean Mama

FREE Make-Ahead Recipe List Courtesy of Clean Mama

Grab the FREE Make-Ahead Recipe List here in my shop or here on Googledocs.

This FREE printable coordinates perfectly with my brand new Everyday Menu Planning Kit in my shop.  It’s a great addition to the kit or use it by itself – there is a Recipes to Try List and a Family Favorites List in the same format as this free make-ahead menu printable in the kit.  You can see the entire Everyday Line here in my shop, and read more about the whole Everyday Line here on the blog.

Clean Mama's Everyday Menu Planning Kit Clean Mama Printables



8 Make-Ahead Recipes that Will Change Your Menu Planning

8 Make-Ahead Recipes that Will Change your Menu Planning via Clean Mama

Menu planning is one of those things that if you do it you can’t stop talking about how great it is and if you don’t menu plan, you can’t stop complaining about why you need to start.  If you’re looking for a few new winning recipes or looking to start simplifying your meal times, this little round up is the perfect thing to get you started.  The majority of the recipes are in our dinner rotation and I think you might add them to yours too!  (Recipes appear in order – top down and left to right.)  Here’s a link to a FREE printable to use for your make-ahead menu planning!

  1. Shredded BBQ Chicken Burgers – Place some of this slow cooker goodness on a bun, slather it with guacamole and shredded cheese. What’s not to love? Via What’s Gaby Cooking
  2. Homemade Frozen Pizza– This fan favorite is just about the easiest in the book. Make a batch of these homemade pizzas to stash in the freezer for those busy nights. Dinner is on the table in under half in hour! Via Love and Olive Oil
  3. Olive Garden Minestrone Soup – All you need to round out this homey, delicious and vegetarian soup is a salad or some bread. Put everything in the slow cooker in the morning and have a tasty dinner waiting for you come supper time. Via Cooking Classy
  4. Rotisserie- Style Whole Chicken – Who doesn’t love the ease of the classic rotisserie style chicken? Rather than stopping to pick one up on your way home for dinner, have one ready for you courtesy of your slow cooker. Via Design Mom
  5. Slow Cooker Turkey with No-Fuss Gravy – Who says turkey is just for Thanksgiving? Save the leftovers from this dinner for quesadillas or a salad the next day. Via Mel’s Kitchen Cafe
  6. Crockpot Brown Butter Marinara Sauce – Make your own marinara sauce rather than using a jar with this delicious homemade marinara sauce. Make a double batch and freeze half for the ultimate in easy dinners. Via Half Baked Harvest
  7. All-Purpose Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken – Nothing beats the versatility of shredded chicken for making all sorts of dinners. Perfect for pulling out of the freezer on a busy night for an easy meal. Via Mountain Mama Cooks
  8. Slow Cooker Ham with Maple Brown Sugar Glaze – Perfect for feeding a crowd or freezing leftovers, this ham is ideal for a “fancy” dinner without much fuss. Via Number 2 Pencil

Have a favorite make-ahead recipe or tip?  Share in the comments!

If you like these recipes, you’ll love my make ahead + freeze pinboard!

Overwhelmed? Find success in your homekeeping with my latest book, Simply Clean! Dismiss