When I was growing up, my mother made meatloaf at least once a week. Since that was one of her seven standard menu choices, I soon grew tired of it. She made it the same way every time, and it was boring. Consequently, I almost never made meatloaf for my family.
Until I discovered you could switch it up and keep it interesting. Here is my basic recipe.
Ingredients — Prep time 10 minutes
1 pound lean ground beef (93/7)
1 cup (8-ounce can) tomato sauce
½ cup diced onion
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon beef bouillon granules (or one cube, crushed)
1 teaspoon Grill Mates Montreal steak spice
⅓ cup plain bread crumbs
1 large egg, beaten
1 teaspoon Worchester sauce
I use a lean ground beef to limit the fat content. Meatloaf is pretty fatty, so I try to use a ground sirloin. In my experience, meatloaf is often surrounded by liquid fat when I remove it from the oven, and using 93/7 eliminates that. Also, using a lower fat meat makes 6 servings instead of four due to shrinkage.
Instructions — Cook time 1 hour
Preheat your oven to 350℉ while you mix up meatloaf. Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray to prevent sticking.
In a medium sized bowl, mix ground beef, ⅔ cup tomato sauce, diced onion, garlic powder, bouillon, steak spice, bread crumbs, egg and Worchester sauce. Combine until well mixed. Transfer to your greased loaf pan. Spread the remaining tomato sauce evenly over the top.
Place the loaf pan on the center rack in your preheated oven and cook for one hour. After one hour, remove the meatloaf and let it rest for 10 minutes before slicing it into 6 serving sizes.
Serve it with your favorite side dishes. I love to make mashed potatoes that I can spoon on top and eat, almost like a shepherd’s pie. You can even spoon leftover mashed potatoes on top instead of using the remaining tomato sauce and bake it that way. The potatoes get a little browned and crispy.
Eating the same kind of meatloaf is boring to me, but there are many ways to change it up.
Instead of using tomato sauce, I add ½ can of cream of mushroom soup concentrate. I leave out the garlic powder but slice up a cup of sliced fresh mushrooms. I put ¼ cup of the mushrooms in the meat mixture and arrange ¼ cup of mushrooms on top.
I make a simple mushroom gravy with the remain ½ cup of the mushrooms. Sautee the remaining mushrooms with a tablespoon of minced onions in 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Then add 2 tablespoons of flour and cook for about 1 minute. Add in one cup of beef broth. stirring constantly. Let it simmer on medium-low heat until it thickens.
This version pairs well with roasted potatoes and vegetables that can be baked while the meat is cooking, making this an easy meal.
For this version, I leave out the Worchester sauce and steak spice from the original recipe. Instead, I add 1 teaspoon of oregano, ¼ teaspoon of basil and the garlic to the tomato sauce before mixing ⅔ cup into the meat. In addition, I add ¼ cup sliced mushrooms to the meat mixture.
For the topping, I spread the remaining tomato sauce on top and dice a medium-sized tomato to sprinkle over it before baking.
This version is great with minestrone soup and French bread in the wintertime.
I didn’t come up with this version because I live in Texas and am a Tex-Mex-a-holic. Okay, well, maybe I did. This is my Tex-Mex version of meatloaf.
I eliminate the tomato sauce, Worchester sauce and steak spice from the original recipe. Instead, I mix in 2 teaspoons of taco seasoning and ⅔ cup Pace picante sauce into the meat mixture. Then, I spread ⅓ cup of Pace picante sauce evenly over the top before baking it. In the last 10 minutes of baking, sprinkle with ¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese and let it finish baking.
We like to have this with charro bean soup, tortillas and Rotel™ cheese dip.
Put these into your menu rotation
Even if you think you don’t like meatloaf, I urge you to try the variations. I think you will be surprised at how different and tasty they are. If you struggle with menu planning, these four variations will keep the boredom away and make your life easier. You can have meatloaf every week for a month!
You could even switch these up by using ground lamb or chicken in place of the ground beef. I would replace the beef bouillon with chicken or vegetable, and cream of celery soup concentrate instead of the tomato sauce. Rubbed sage, salt and pepper could replace of the steak spice and Worchester sauce.
Pat Davis, a retired teacher and editor of Simply Living and Living Simply, lives with her husband and neurotic cat, Neko. She loves to read, write, travel, bake, garden, sew, and craft. Top writer in Food and Cooking.