Make Ahead Meals: Cheesy Beef and Rice

On a day when there’s lots of activity (um…that would be every day), it’s so nice to have a meal prepared in the freezer ready to pull out and bake.  Quickly toss a salad and warm up a veggie, and your meal is made!

Over the next several weeks, while I continue to post new breakfast ideas, and great ways to eat lots of fruits and veggies - I’ll also be posting some great recipes that you can make up ahead of time and put into the freezer to have on hand for busy evenings. 

To start us off, here’s a super easy recipe to put together.  There’s nothing fancy about this dish, but it’s tasty just the same.

Cheesy Beef and Rice

Cheesy Beef and Rice

1 1/2 cups long grain brown rice
1 pound ground beef
3 Tablespoons minced onion, or fresh chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
sea salt, to taste
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1/3 cup milk
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Boil three cups of water.  Stir in rice.  Cover and simmer for 45 minutes.  Brown ground beef with onion and garlic powder.  Mix with rice and salt well.  Stir in sour cream and milk.  Spread into a casserole dish.  Sprinkle cheese on top.  Cover well and freeze.

To bake:  Thaw casserole on counter all day.  Place uncovered in a 350° oven for 30 minutes, or until bubbly.  Or, place frozen casserole, covered with foil, into a cold oven.  Turn oven on to 250°, baking for about 2 hours or until casserole is heated through and through.

Serves 4.

I hope you’ll keep coming back to read more recipes of dishes that you can make ahead of time and put into the freezer!

Comments

  1. says

    Wow! That sounds really good! Our weather is finally warming up and we spend so much time outside that quick meals are a necessity! I usually have hamb. and rice already cooked in portion sizes in the freezer so this sounds like something I could throw together quickly! Thanks, I’ve bookmarked you and will visit again!

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  2. Brooke says

    I just wanted to provide you with some information on safe thawing of foods (this is what I do for a living, so please excuse the teacher in me!)

    http://www.fsis.usda.gov/FactSheets/Big_Thaw/index.asp

    Foods should be thawed in the fridge or using the microwave. By thawing on the counter you cannot keep the food at a safe temperature and could expose yourself and your family to unsafe toxins and food poisioning.

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    Kara Reply:

    I’m glad you said something, I was thinking the same thing! Please practice and promote safe food practices:)

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  3. Mel says

    In response to the thawing comment- I often freeze prepared lasagnas (uncooked noodles, not baked, just assembled). Where I would normally cook this recipe for about 45 minutes if fresh, I usually find that about an hour and ten minutes will cook it directly out of the freezer. I will cover it for the first half, so it does not burn outside before cooking inside. This may be a good alternative to worrying about thawing at room temp OR using the microwave if you share concerns about the damaging effects it could have. I would think this method could work on this dish as well! It looks delicious by the way. I think I will add it to my freezer cooking list! My husband loves any combination of cheesy and beef!! I need to get back to preparing more meals for the freezer! Thanks for the inspiration, even 7 months later!

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  4. says

    It is good! We had it for dinner tonight (and there is now one in the freezer! Yay!). Of course, with my husband helping, a few hot pepper flakes got added on at the end, but thankfully it wasn’t too hot and tasted delicious. I’m looking forward to having the next one when our baby gets here!

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  5. Danielle says

    This sounds delish! Have you ever made it w/o the sour cream? Or is it a noticable taste? We have some picky eaters in our home!

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  6. says

    We had this for dinner tonight and it was delicious with sweet corn on the side.

    To the previous poster – I don’t think you could leave out the sour cream. It forms most of the “glue” that holds the casserole together! You could try substituting with a white sauce, but at that point it would be an entirely different recipe.

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  7. Courtney says

    I made this and added in taco type seasonings(oregano, paprika, cumin). My family loved it served with refried beans. Very tasty. :)

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  8. says

    As I prepared this for dinner tonight (for the first time), I received two, “Mmmmm! That smells good!” comments from my husband! Hearing that always puts a spring in my step during the hectic dinner hour. Of course, if I had made an extra to put in the freezer, then I would have one less hectic dinner hour in my future, wouldn’t I? :- )

    Thank you so much for the recipe. Thank you even more for the time you put into your blog. I appreciate the ideas and inspiration so much!

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  9. Liz says

    Plain yogurt is a healthy alternative to sour cream and can be used pretty much the same.

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    Megan Reply:

    Thank you for sharing that. I will definitely try your suggestion. I always have plain yogurt in the house.

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  10. says

    Just thought I’d let you know I tried this with elk burger. It turned out great except it was dry. It needed more milk or sour cream. Probably because the elk has practically no fat. So if you make this with wild game just add a bit of the creamy yummy stuff.

    Sharon

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    Rachel Addison Reply:

    My husband got 2 deer this year and when he grinds it he adds about 10% beef or pork fat. That helps out with the dryness. I don’t know if that would work with elk. We don’t have elk in the south that I know of. :-)

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    Erin Reply:

    We have lots of deer also and notice it does lack in fat. We remedy this by adding a chunk of grass-fed beef tallow, purchased online, to the cooking dish as it goes in.

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  11. says

    I’m making my second batch for dinner tonight. I doubled it last time – it is the *perfect* recipe to double-as-you-cook (with no extra effort). My family loved it. I like a previous poster’s idea of serving with beans for Mexican food.

    I’m considering experimenting with 1/2 cottage cheese and 1/2 sour cream b/c I have some cottage cheese that needs using. If I like it, I’ll post =)

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  12. says

    I made a variation of this tonight with 2 cups of black beans and 2 T taco seasoning stirred into the meat/rice mixture. I also omitted the sour cream and milk in the dish and made the whole thing on the stove and melted cheese over the top with a lid on at the last minute. We ate it as a sort of dip with tortilla chips. We called it “burrito dip.” We had salsa, sour cream and guacamole (for the smart folks among us ;)) on the side. So yummy!

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  13. Courtney says

    I have made this several times and love it. I do add some spices to the meat so it is more like taco meat. I also add black beans. It is so yummy!! My daughter loves it with tortilla chips.

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  14. Marianne says

    This is a big hit around my house! What a GREAT way to get my family to eat brown rice. I have made this a few times and we always eat the entire casserole dish. My adult sons dropped in for dinner last night and they gobbled it up.

    thanks for another yummy recipe.

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  15. says

    Made this tonight and loved it! Yay for a new healthy recipe! This is a great replacement for those cream of chicken soup from a can recipes. :) I may add some chicken bouillon next time since I made it with ground chicken.

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  16. Kassi Hill says

    I was just wondering if you’d thought about doing a freezer meals e-book? I would buy it! I know you are super busy, so no pressure!

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    Laura Reply:

    You are so sweet! Yes, I would like to creat an ebook like this someday. In fact, I started one a couple of years ago. Other things keep creeping up ahead of this, but someday I think it will happen! Thanks for your encouragement!

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  17. blair says

    I made this with long grain white rice the other day because i didnt have the time to cook the brown rice. it was really good, and my husband suggested i make some changes to it the next time.. chicken, instead of beef, add broccoli, and cheese. yummy either way.

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  18. says

    I decided to try this last night, as I had everything on hand. As I was making it, and looking at the simple ingredient list, I became skeptical. Would it really taste good? YES, I was so surprised! My husband even asked what all was in it, wanted to know what kind of seasoning I had used. (Had to admit none, I forgot…). The only changes I made were to use ground venison and added a can of beans. We will be repeating this one, thanks!!

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  19. Jamie says

    OK, made this tonight… YUM! Oh, and I did tweak it a little. I added about 5 spoons full of salsa. (We are from the south and love TexMex! LOL!) I was also thinking that corn or black beans might even be good thrown in. Thanks for the recipie!

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  20. says

    I have been wanting to make this for a few weeks. I did not have enough tie to make it for dinner yesterday, so I decided to make it after dinner, for tonight. After putting it together, I put a few scoops in a little baking dish and heated it up just so I could “sample” it to make sure it was okay for dinner. I LOVED it. It seemed too simple to be good, but it was so good, I secretly had some for breakfast this mornign too. Can’t wait to bake the rest for dinner tonight.

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  21. Hannah says

    Okay so I made this for dinner tonight. I used an entire fresh onion and added a package of frozen lima beans. My family LOVED it!!! My husband actually said he would ask me to make it again….which is the highest rating he gives!

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  22. says

    I made this tonight, for dinner. Often, I’ll adjust a recipe for what I like or know my family prefers, but I made NO changes to the ingredients. It was delicious! The whole family loved it. I did double the recipe, because we are 4 adults, plus my daughter took some to her boyfriend on his dinner break at work, and I knew hubby and maybe my daughter would take some for lunch at work the next day. I just doubled everything, put it in a lasagna dish, and baked for 20 minutes to melt the cheese. YUM!!! Thanks, Laura!

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  23. muna says

    I made this last night for my family. I added 2 tbsp of taco seasoning to the ground beef. We ate it with some sour cream & tortilla chips for the ones who wanted to dip. Yummy!

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  24. says

    I made this for dinner tonight. Because it’s so hot here, I didn’t want to turn the oven on. I browned the beef & onion, made the rice and then mixed them together with the other ingredients. I sprinkled the cheese on top last and let it melt while I set the table. DH & I loved it!! The kids…not so much, but 2 of them ate it so they could have ice cream for dessert. :) I used 6 ounces of plain yogurt in place of the milk & sour cream.

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  25. diannekinzer says

    My mother thawed meat in the sink and I did for years. Never a problem. Doesn’t the part that’s frozen keep the outside cool enough? Of course, once it is thawed and if it stays at rm temp for hrs, there is a problem, but 3-4 hrs for a hunk of meat sounds safe to me. I have left things in the fridge over nite and found them pretty much rock hard the next morning.

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  26. Kirsten says

    I left out the milk and added medium picante sauce, a can of pinto beans and some sharp cheddar in the mixture as well as on top. Thanks for the recipe. Delish!

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  27. says

    I am just starting out trying freezer meals. I only made one casserole of this the first time in case we didn’t like it. Even with fresh onion & garlic, and our favorite extra sharp cheese this was pretty bland. I would eat it again if it were something the kids really liked… but not so much. The youngest refused it, while the older 2 ate all their broccoli and left this for last (even though they were excited to try it since I called it ‘hamburger helper’… so I knew they weren’t thrilled with it! I may try it again with some more seasonings… maybe seasoned salt instead of plain sea salt would help…?

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  28. Kaely says

    We had this for dinner last night. I used fresh garlic and added some dried oregano and black pepper too. I enjoyed it, but it was a bit bland. I plan on adding some salsa next time I make it.

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  29. Jennifer says

    This was great!! Both of my kids give this a thumbs up! Only thing I did different, was add a little pepper and one fresh garlic clove.

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  30. Suzanne says

    I made this wonderful recipe for lunch/dinner today. I used 1/2 onion, a pint of homemade salsa & used country wild rice blend. This is a keeper recipe!!!

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  31. Melissa M. says

    I made this tonight and it was yummy! I would love to try the variations that others have listed as well. I wasn’t sure if my 12-year-old son would like this but he did…

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  32. Michelle says

    Can anyone tell me approximately how many this recipe serves? I am serving 250-300 college kids and this seems like something they would like.

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    Laura Reply:

    I’d say this recipe would serve 10-12. :)

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  33. Joy says

    Someone else mentioned that they would buy a freezer-cooking book. I actually just went to check for one and was surprised there wasn’t one. Make one Laura! You have so many good recipes!

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  34. Amanda says

    I thought I would share our variation to this recipe. I added ingredients to make it like the inside of a 7-layer burrito from Taco Bell. The best part? All healthy ingredients! Yay!

    I left everything the same but added:
    Homemade refried beans
    Added Taco seasoning to the meat
    Assembled all the warm things in the bottom of a 9×13 pan.
    Topped with:
    Lettuce, tomatoes, onion, cheese, Guacamole (homemade)

    I have frozen this also just leaving the fresh toppings for after it’s been thawed out and warmed up.

    Served on homemade tortillas…wonderful and it goes a very long way!

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  35. Faith says

    Just wanted to let you know that the last couple times I made this, I substituted a tablespoon of your ranch dressing mix with the beef instead of the other spices, and it was very yummy! It’s one of my 9 year old daughters favorite meals now, and she is a VERY picky eater! Thank you for being such a blessing to our family! :)

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  36. says

    This was excellent. I’d stopped making Tater-tot casserole, as I didn’t know how to do it without a cream soup added to it. This is it. The rice and meat mix with the sour cream is perfect. Followed the recipe as is and had a family that enjoyed it thoroughly. May add the tater-tots to the top next time for old time’s sake.

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  37. Jennier says

    Did anyone else have trouble with this recipe not making enough. It said it was for a 9×13 casserole, but I had to double this recipe to make it enough for a 9×13, it would have maybe only served 4 people…am I missing something. I could not come up with it serving 10 people, at all. It is because of the long grain rice? I used short grain.

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    Laura Reply:

    You make a great point. When I answered the question above to say that it would serve 10-12, I must have been thinking of how I prepare it (which is doubling or tripling). So sorry about that! I’ll edit the recipe to be more accurate.

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  38. Michelle C says

    You are an absolute blessing in my life. I have been looking at your blog for a few months now & making recipes, but I am just now commenting, sorry! I look at your menu planning almost every day to guide my choices for our family. We are making this recipe tonight and two nights ago I made your “buns” (lol) and they were amazing and light and fluffy. They were even great for dinner again last night (a day old) for chicken sandwiches. Keep doing what you’re doing because you are blessing lives! Merry Christmas! – Michelle

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  39. Jennifer says

    I think this would be a great filling for stuffed bell peppers! I’d like to line the dish with bell pepper halves, full them up and surround with the leftover mixture.

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