Hello, Winnie Griggs here. The other day I was going through my old recipe files as I’m gradually digitizing them. Some of these were handed down from my mom, slipped to me by friends or relatives, or developed by me over time. Just reading through the creased and food-stained notes had me reminiscing over my childhood an early married life – I’d never realized how foods could be so deeply associated with comforting memories.

Today I thought I share one of those with you – a hearty, perfect-for-Fall recipe called Meal-In-A-Loaf.

First of all, since most of these rcipes are more than twenty years old, they come from a time when I was a working mother with four youngsters and a 45 minute commute to and from the office. In those days time was always at a premium (but isn’t it always!). So when it came to meals I took advantage of the weekends and my great big freezer. I’d cook up meals like soups, gumbos, and one-dish casseroles in double or triple sized batches so I could freeze part of it to prepare for a future meal. I would also cook large batches of what I called my meat base.

Ground beef dishes – whether cooked up in a casserole, tacos, chili or spaghetti – were big hits around my house – not only with the diners but with this cook.  However, I’ve always found having to deal with browning and draining the meat itself to be time consuming and something of a hassle.  So I got in the habit of getting that prep work out of the way ahead of time, during one of my not-too-frequent down times.

This is how I do that .

  • Place 5 lbs of lean ground beef and 1 lb of ground pork in a large pot and cook until browned
  • Drain then return to pot with a little water or stock
  • Add seasonings such as chopped onions, green onions, peppers and celery – this varies based on what I have on hand and what mood I’m in. Sometimes I just use Sloppy Joe mix.
  • Continue cooking, adding liquid as needed, until seasonings are tender and flavors are well blended.
  • If I haven’t used Sloppy Joe mix, I’ll add some tomato sauce and cook a little longer
  • Remove from heat and allow to cool
  • Then I separate the batch into six individual one pound portions and freeze them until I’m ready to use one or more in a favorite recipe

Now, on to the recipe I promised you



  • 1 large unsliced French or Italian bread loaf
  • 1 pound meat mixture, thawed
  • 1 can condensed tomato soup, undiluted (Note: I will sometimes take a can of Rotel tomatoes and chili peppers, drained and substitute it in for half of the soup)
  • A large dollop of sour cream (I don’t measure, I just plop it in)
  • 1/2 cup of your favorite cheese, shredded


  • Heat meat and soup together in a saucepan. Just before you remove it from the stove, stir in the sour cream, mixing well
  • Slice the bread loaf lengthwise, making sure the bottom portion is slightly larger than the one on top
  • Scoop out both halves of the sliced loaf, leaving a roughly 1/2 – 3/4 inch shell
  • Break about 1/2 of scooped-out bread into bite-sized portions and stir into warm meat mixture.
  • Spoon meat and bread mixture into the bottom portion of the hollowed loaf, allowing it to ‘mound’ above the top of the bowl
  • Sprinkle the shredded cheese evenly over the top
  • Cover with the top portion of the bread shell
  • Wrap loosely in foil and bake at 350 for 30 minutes

To serve, unwrap the loaf and cut it into serving-sized slices.  This will make 8-10 servings, depending on the size of loaf and thickness of slices.

NOTE: I sometimes stir in taco seasoning to change it up a bit

That’s it – Enjoy!

Do you have any meal prep or planning shortcuts of your own to offer?  And if you have any quick and easy recipes of your own, especially one that would utilize this pre-cooked meat mix, share!

Leave a comment to be entered in the drawing for winner’s choice of any book from my backlist.



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Winnie Griggs is the author of Historical (and occasionally Contemporary) romances that focus on Small Towns, Big Hearts, Amazing Grace. She is also a list maker, a lover of dragonflies and holds an advanced degree in the art of procrastination.
Three of Winnie’s books have been nominated for the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award, and one of those nominations resulted in a win.
Winnie loves to hear from readers. You can connect with her on facebook at or email her at

40 thoughts on “Meal-In-A-Loaf”

  1. I like healthier choices. Did you know you can substitute an equal amount of applesauce for oil in cake and muffin recipes for a low fat and lower calorie version?

  2. 4 a.m., I woke up hungry, opened my email and here is this yummy recipe. I want to go cook it right now, LOL! Seriously, it will be on the menu as soon as I make a run to the store for french bread. Thanks for the recipe!

  3. You could take the meat mixture, add cooked pasta, and shredded cheese, mix it up, and call if beef-a-roni. Add some chili powder to the beef-a-roni and call it chili-mac.

  4. My shortcut is to use Rao’s Marinara sauce, when it’s on sale I stock up. It’d be great with your meat mixture for any pasta dish.

  5. That sounds good to me but not sure husband would eat it. He is very picky. My easiest recipe is taco salad here and you could make it up ahead of time. That is one thing husband will eat.

  6. It reminds me of what my kids used to call Poppie’s Surprise. It was made with feta cheese, spinach, and hamburger and then put in a loaf of French bread. My kids would eat it even when they didn’t like spinach.

    • Oh, I wish I would have thought of slipping in some veggies in when my kids were younger. I could have thrown some spinach, carrots or other ‘good stuff’ in the blender and added it to my meat mixture

  7. You are one smart and accomplished lady to create a system of cooking and get all your work done too. It’s just my husband and myself to cook for (retired) so I just put small meals together quickly, there’s not much planning ahead. I do like making a big pot of vegetable beef soup in the winter and freezing leftovers for a few easy meals later on. Your recipe sounds delicious!

    • LOL Connie, I’d describe it as desperate rather than accomplished 🙂 And I’m retired now too, but I still like to cook my meat sauce and freeze it for future meals. I figure it’s just as easy to cook a big batch as a small on and you only have to do the clean up once 🙂

  8. A good go to for me…. From ground meat, make your patties. Place a patty on a piece of foil, then top with a slice of potato, then a slice of onion, slice of tomato and slice of squash. Season. Wrap securely in foil. Do your other parties the same way and bake in oven for 40 min at 300 degrees. Yum!

  9. Thank you for sharing your recipes, it sounds delicious! I like to make tacos with ground pork , some very small diced potatoes and all I add to it is garlic salt and they come out delicious. Have a great week and stay safe.

  10. This sounds good!! I’ll have to add it to my stash! My go-to easy is salmon patties. I keep canned salmon on hand, add an egg, enough flour to old it together, and then drop it by big spoon fulls into hot canola oil and cook. I’ll pair it with mashed potatoes, lima beans, and onion.

  11. Yum, Winnie! My girls would’ve loved this when they were all home. My newest tip in my later years is buying a rotisserie chicken, de-boning it, and then freeze the shredded meat in lunch meat containers. Since it’s just my husband and me, it’s just the right amount of chicken for the recipes I use. Fast and easy!

  12. Our go to dinners when we’re tired are usually Tacos or breakfast for dinner. I like cooking things that are simple and offer leftovers so quite often I’ll find recipes from Tatse of Home or All Recipes for what I have on hand.

  13. I have a casserole recipe that fries sausage cooked noodles and sauerkraut. Cook the sausage and noodles. Put the noodles in the casserole dish first, add the jar of sauerkraut then put the noodles. Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes. Thank you for sharing.

  14. My sister-in-law brought a casserole to a family gathering and the kids loved it. Cook pasta, drain, add a jar of spaghetti sauce, diced mozzarella cheese, and meat. She used chunks of pepperoni but you could use your meat mixture. Mix all together and top with shredded cheese. Bake at 350 degrees until hot through. I tend to just throw things together, so no real measurements here and it can be adjusted to serve any number of people.
    We like soup at our house. When I would cook vegetables or drain a can of them for a recipe, I would save the liquid in a container and add in any leftover vegetables or pasta to it. I kept this in my freezer and keep adding to it. When the container is full, I use it as the base for a soup adding whatever I like. Adding your meat mixture with extra veggies, etc. would make a nice beef vegetable soup.

  15. Hi Winnie, Enjoy your post & recipe, Meat-In-A-Loaf. Sounds delicious & sometimes we still need those comfort foods like our Mother’s use to make. Healthy or Not… I enjoy my mother-in-laws yeast rolls recipe that has a lot of sugar in it, however; I still make it once & awhile for the family to enjoy. Thank You, for the chance to win.

  16. Welcome today Winnie. Thanks for sharing this recipe. Sounds wonderful. I cant eat much bread but I can see it on a taco salad. I make my own taco seasoning. We love taco salads. I like to make a bunch of meat in the winter and freeze it for the summer. All I have to do is pull it out and thaw.

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