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Easy Meatloaf Recipe (Freezer Meal Prep)

Mix up this easy meatloaf recipe and double or triple the batch to have meatloaf on hand any night of the week with just minutes of hands-on time. Choose your preferred ground meat whether it’s beef, chicken, turkey or pork and top it with your favorite sauce or my homemade ketchup.

A young boy eating meatloaf.

Why I Love This Recipe

Freezer cooking isn’t just convenient when preparing for a baby to arrive, but it’s also a great way to eliminate ordering takeout or eating unhealthier options when you’re pressed for time. Freezing is an important method in our preservation plan and knowing which foods should not be frozen is key.

We love using these easy freezer meal cooking tips, and this meatloaf recipe fits right into the category of freezer cooking. It mixes together in just a few minutes and can sit in your freezer for three months (or more)! Not only can you make traditional meatloaf, but you could also turn this recipe into meat cups, stuffed bell peppers, or even meatballs!

What is the Secret to Moist Meatloaf?

There are a few secrets when it comes to keeping meatloaf moist. First of all, don’t skip the eggs or the binder. It may seem counterintuitive to add breadcrumbs to something you want to stay moist, but those breadcrumbs actually help hold and distribute the meatloaf’s moisture throughout and keep it there once baked.

Additionally, you don’t want to overcook your meatloaf or cook it at too high of a temperature. We recommend cooking at 350°F until the internal temperature reaches 160°F.

Hands sliding a pan of meatloaf into the oven.

Is it Better to Cook Meatloaf at 350° or 375°F?

As mentioned above, we prefer to cook our meatloaf at 350°F for a longer period of time, rather than cranking the heat up to 375° for it to cook faster. Cooking it lower and slower will always result in a meatloaf that is moister. You want the internal temperature to reach 160°F prior to removing it from the oven. This should take about 35-45 minutes.

If you’re in a hurry, you can increase the cooking temperature to 375°F. Just know that it won’t turn out quite as moist, especially around the edges and the top crust.

Meatloaf ingredients being added one by one into a large glass bowl.

What Ingredient Keeps Meatloaf From Falling Apart?

There are two keys to a meatloaf that doesn’t crumble or fall apart when serving. The first is to use a binder. I like to use eggs and stale crumbled-up breadcrumbs. You can use anything you have on hand that will act in the same manner (crushed crackers, panko bread crumbs, or even rolled oats).

The second key is to allow the meatloaf to set up for about 10-15 minutes after baking. If you cut into it straight out of the oven, the juices haven’t had a chance to redistribute and it’s more likely to crumble. Put on your patience hat and give it just a few minutes before cutting into it.

Meatloaf in a freezer bag with a loaf pan beside it.

How to Make This Easy Meatloaf Recipe

Supplies Needed

  • Large Mixing Bowl – You’re going to need to mix together your ingredients in a large bowl. No need for a spoon, just use your hands!
  • Gallon Ziptop Bags – I don’t normally like using plastic when it comes to food, however in this case I make an exception. Ziptop bags make it super convenient to flatten out the meatloaf into a thin square which also means they defrost much more quickly. This also makes it easy to write the instructions and label the bag so anyone in the family can make dinner.
  • Loaf Pan – When you’re ready to cook your easy meatloaf recipe, have a standard 9×5″ loaf pan ready to go.
Meatloaf ingredients in individual glass bowls.

Ingredients Needed

  • Ground Meat – This could be all ground beef, ground turkey, or even a combination of your favorite ground meats (pork, lamb, venison, etc.).
  • Eggs – Eggs are needed to help keep the meatloaf moist as well as bind the ingredients together.
  • Breadcrumbs – This is very adaptable as you just need something that, along with the eggs, will help bind the ingredients together. You can use gluten-free bread, homemade sourdough bread, crushed crackers or even rolled oats.
  • Onion – Red, sweet, or white onion will work. Use whatever you have on hand!
  • Bell Pepper – Red, orange, yellow or green. Any color you prefer.
  • Tomato Sauce – This can be canned, homemade or fermented tomato sauce.
  • Salt – We love using our Redmond Real Salt. If you’d like to purchase, that link will get you 15% off your order!
  • Italian Seasoning – We prefer Italian seasoning, but this is completely adaptable for your favorite flavors like freeze-dried garlic.
  • Ketchup – We love topping our meatloaf with this homemade fermented ketchup. You could use regular ketchup, barbeque sauce, or even plum sauce!

Directions

  1. Chop and prepare all ingredients ahead of time.
  2. In a large bowl, combine ground beef, eggs, breadcrumbs, onion, bell pepper, tomato sauce, salt and Italian seasonings.
  3. Mix until all ingredients are well incorporated (but don’t overmix or your meatloaf will turn out tough).
  4. Label ziptop bags with the contents, date, and cooking directions.
  5. Add uncooked meatloaf into the ziptop bag, seal and place in the freezer until ready to use.
  6. The night before (or at least an hour prior to cooking dinner), remove the frozen meatloaf from the freezer and place it in the refrigerator (overnight), on the counter or in a sink of cool water. If left on the counter or in a sink of cool water, the meatloaf should defrost in about an hour because it’s so thin.
  7. Once the meatloaf mixture is defrosted, preheat the oven to 350°F and grab a standard-size loaf pan and the ketchup (we love using our homemade ketchup).
  8. Dump the meatloaf mixture into a loaf pan, pressing firmly to eliminate air pockets.
  9. Brush the top with a generous layer of ketchup or other preferred sauce.
  10. Slide the meatloaf into a preheated oven and bake at 350°F until the internal temperature of the meatloaf is 160°F.
  11. Allow the meatloaf to cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes before cutting into it and serving.
  12. Top with additional ketchup, if desired, and enjoy!

And that’s it! If you double, triple, or even 10x this recipe, you’ll have meatloaf ready to go in your freezer for any night of the week you need a little extra help. This just proves it’s easy enough for a 10-year-old boy to make as well!

Now there are no excuses for not having a healthy homemade meal on the dinner table each night of the week.

Homesteading Hack: Make an extra pan of this easy meatloaf recipe and have leftovers for lunch the next day! We’re all for cooking once and eating twice (or more!).

Easy meatloaf recipe on a dish with pan of meatloaf in background.

Did you make this recipe? If so, please leave a star rating in the recipe card below. Then snap a photo and tag us on social media @homesteadingfamily so we can see all your hard work!

Other Recipes You May Enjoy

Easy meatloaf recipe on a dish with pan of meatloaf in background.

Easy Meatloaf Recipe

Mix up this easy meatloaf recipe and double or triple the batch to have meatloaf on hand any night of the week with just minutes of hands-on time.
4.39 from 39 votes
Print Pin
Course: Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 391kcal
Author: Carolyn Thomas

Equipment

  • Loaf Pan
  • Plastic Ziptop Bags 1 gallon size

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds ground beef or pork, lamb, venison, etc.
  • 2 whole eggs whisked
  • 3/4 cup breadcrumbs or rolled oats
  • 1 whole onion chopped
  • 1 whole bell pepper chopped
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 cup ketchup

Instructions

  • Chop and prepare all ingredients ahead of time.
  • In a large bowl, combine ground beef, eggs, breadcrumbs, onion, bell pepper, tomato sauce, salt and Italian seasonings.
  • Mix until all ingredients are well incorporated (but don’t overmix or your meatloaf will turn out tough).
  • Label ziptop bags with the contents, date, and cooking directions.
  • Add uncooked meatloaf into the ziptop bag, seal and place in the freezer until ready to use.
  • The night before (or at least an hour prior to cooking dinner), remove the frozen meatloaf from the freezer and place it in the refrigerator (overnight), on the counter or in a sink of cool water. If left on the counter or in a sink of cool water, the meatloaf should defrost in about an hour because it’s so thin.
  • Once the meatloaf mixture is defrosted, preheat the oven to 350°F and grab a standard-size loaf pan and the ketchup (we love using our homemade ketchup).
  • Dump the meatloaf mixture into a loaf pan, pressing firmly to eliminate air pockets.
  • Brush the top with a generous layer of ketchup or other preferred sauce.
  • Slide the meatloaf into a preheated oven and bake at 350°F until the internal temperature of the meatloaf is 160°F.
  • Allow the meatloaf to cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes before cutting into it and serving.
  • Top with additional ketchup, if desired, and enjoy!

Notes

  • Double, triple, or 10x this recipe and store them in the freezer for up to 3 months!
  • Defrost the meatloaf mixture on the countertop or in a sink of cool water for about an hour. Or, defrost it overnight in the refrigerator.
  • Make our homemade ketchup as the sauce on top of the meatloaf!

Nutrition

Serving: 1slice | Calories: 391kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 81mg | Sodium: 1027mg | Potassium: 1020mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 1053IU | Vitamin C: 15mg | Calcium: 74mg | Iron: 5mg
Tried this recipe?We want to see! Tag @homesteadingfamily on Instagram.
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