Easy Weeknight Meals:  Meat Loaf

Includes How to Make a Lower-Fat Meat Loaf

After a long day at work, I want something easy.  This is it.

I know, a meatloaf, potatoes, and gravy doesn’t sound easy.  It is.  Mix the meat loaf the night before and put it in the refrigerator.  Put it in the oven when you get home, thaw some veggies, make salad, and go relax.  When the meat loaf is done, you’re ready to eat.

But about the potatoes and gravy. . .

How to Make Your Potatoes in Minutes

Use dry potato packages.  I usually use Idahoan just-add-water mashed potatoes.  They’re pretty darned good and I have ten choices, ten varieties.

But lately we’ve discovered Steakhouse® Hash Browns, Au Gratin, and Scalloped Potatoes.  I like ‘em.  Merri Ann—my wife—was raised in Idaho and says these are nearly as good as fresh.


How to Make Your Gravy in Minutes

Your favorite restaurant doesn’t spend a lot of time making gravy.  It has to be quick and foolproof.  Chances are, they’re using these mixes.  We buy them from a restaurant supply wholesaler.

All you add is water.  Each mix makes over 4 quarts.  Just use enough mix for dinner.  It’s easy.  It’s quick.  It tastes great.


How to Make a Lower-Fat, Healthier Meat Loaf

My mother, who was a great country cook, taught me to tip the pan up as soon as the meat loaf comes from the oven and let the warm grease drain from the pan.  If you let it drain well, it’s pretty close to guiltless.

Then I discovered lean meat loaf pans.  Same concept but the inner pan is perforated so that the grease can drain through the inner pan to the outer catch pan.  Slick.  I was surprised to find that these pans drained even more grease than I drained by tipping the pan up.

Healthy, Low Fat Meat Loaf Recipe

You can make any meat loaf recipe a lower fat, healthier meatloaf by draining the fat from the meatloaf when it comes from the oven.

This recipe goes one step further.  It’s made with lower-fat ingredients.  The eggs and the low-fat sour cream give the meat loaf the desired consistency.

(Note that the directions below use a standard loaf pan, not a perforated pan.  In a perforated pan, you do not have to tip the grease out.)

If you use a mini meat loaf pan, reduce the baking time to 35 minutes.

IngredientsPicture 271

3 large eggs
1 cup low-fat sour cream
1/2 cup quick rolled oats
2 tablespoons minced dry onion
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon spice blend (See notes)

2 pounds lean ground beef
1/3 cup barbecue sauce or ketchup


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, sour cream, rolled oats, onion, bell pepper, salt, ground pepper, and spice. Knead in the ground beef. Press the meat loaf mixture into a non-stick loaf pan.
  2. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the partially cooked meat loaf from the oven. Be very careful not to burn yourself and tip the meat loaf up to drain the grease. (It is helpful to hold the meat loaf in place with a spatula when you tip it up.) Return the meat loaf to the oven and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. Again, pour the grease from the pan. Cover the top of the meat loaf with the barbecue sauce and return to the oven for ten minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 160 to 165 degrees with a probe-type thermometer.
  4. Set a cooling rack over a baking pan. Remove the meat loaf from the pan and set it on the rack to drain completely. After five minutes, remove the meat loaf to a serving platter and serve hot.


Baker’s notes:

Which spice blend should you use?  Spices are so much fun.  It’s fun to explore.  But in this case, you might want to stick with something that you know your family will like.  When you are making soup, you can try a bit of spice in a little soup and then know that you’re going to like the combination.  You can’t try it first with a meat loaf so go with a spice that you have used in the past.  We used Zesty Italian Spice.  Vindaloo from Teeny Tiny Spice works great in ground beef dishes such as this.  Gresham and Myers Prime Rib and Steak seasoning would be another good choice.

See all your spice blend choices.

Make this even healthier (and maybe more interesting) with the addition of grated carrots or chopped spinach.

You can make your own barbecue sauce by mixing 2 tablespoons brown sugar and one teaspoon dry mustard with 1/4 cup catsup.