Decadent Weeknight Oven-Baked Meatballs with an Easy Homemade Sauce (Meal Prep and Gluten-Free Option)

This post may contain affiliate links. Affiliate links come at no extra cost to you. These links allow me to share the products I authentically recommend (and use) and support Live Simply by receiving a small commission.

As I stood in the kitchen finishing up the dishes from the day, I heard little feet make their way down the stairs. I peeked around the staircase post and saw Piper slowly making his way down. “I can’t sleep. Can I help you?” He asked.

Homemade meatballs that feel decadent, but are easy to make even on a busy weeknight. Pair the oven-baked meatballs with the simple homemade sauce.

There was only a salad bowl left in the sink. I thought for a minute and then walked over to the shelf lined with cookbooks. “Piper,” I said carefully while selecting a few books,” you can help by thinking about school lunch ideas. School starts in a couple of weeks and I want to know what you’d like to eat for lunch.”

Homemade meatballs that feel decadent, but are easy to make even on a busy weeknight. Pair the oven-baked meatballs with the simple homemade sauce.

Generally when I ask this question, without any cookbooks nearby to help, the kids just look at me with blank stares.

Homemade meatballs that feel decadent, but are easy to make even on a busy weeknight. Pair the oven-baked meatballs with the simple homemade sauce.

I thought the cookbooks, which are full of plated food photos, might give Piper a place to start. As he flipped through each photo, he would say things like, “Wow, sticks in meatballs look fun. I like the fruit on sticks. The beans and rice look good.”


FREE Real Food Crash Course

I get it, switching from processed food to a real food lifestyle can feel overwhelming and confusing. Friend, it doesn’t have to be this way.

Here’s what to expect: 

  • printable charts (real food defined, a seasonal produce guide, meal planning)
  • how to get started with a real food lifestyle
  • how to create a meal plan and stay within a budget
  • 7 real food recipes
  • emails from me to help you along with a real food lifestyle

 


Meal Prep Rules to Simplify and Succeed at Real Food Prep

After going through the first cookbook (I pulled 3 from the shelf), I noticed a trend: Piper likes anything that’s aesthetically-pleasing, like heart waffles and food on a stick.

Homemade meatballs that feel decadent, but are easy to make even on a busy weeknight. Pair the oven-baked meatballs with the simple homemade sauce.

I’m not one to purchase random kitchen gadgets, but I could see the heart-shaped waffle maker possibilities for school lunch and breakfast, so I ordered one from Amazon. It should arrive tomorrow. I’m picturing waffles for lunch, and lots of sammies (sandwiches) made out of heart waffles. That will be well worth the $30 spent on a specialty appliance.

And, naturally, little skewers were also added to my Amazon cart. Because apparently food on a stick is really appealing to an eight year-old, and I’m guessing it will also be appealing to my six year-old.

Homemade meatballs that feel decadent, but are easy to make even on a busy weeknight. Pair the oven-baked meatballs with the simple homemade sauce.

Granted, the kids’ lunches aren’t going to be heart-shaped or skewered most days, but why not add some fun touches to their lunches. Flipping through those cookbooks with Piper gave me a lot of fresh ideas and motivation to get back to lunch-packing. <–A task that I’m not particularly fond of, so motivation and a list of ideas to pull from is necessary to keep me going throughout the school year.

Homemade meatballs that feel decadent, but are easy to make even on a busy weeknight. Pair the oven-baked meatballs with the simple homemade sauce.

I’m photographing a bunch of lunch ideas this coming week, and will be sharing the ideas shortly. The post will be similar to this lunchbox inspiration post from last year.

Homemade meatballs that feel decadent, but are easy to make even on a busy weeknight. Pair the oven-baked meatballs with the simple homemade sauce.

One of the ideas that Piper loved was meatballs on a skewer. Just meatballs stabbed with small skewers, making them easy to pick up and dip in an accompanying sauce. How simple! To Piper, picking up a meatball with a skewer and then dipping that meatball in sauce is more appealing than the meatballs I’ve packed in the past.

Just by making this one small change–the addition of a skewer–meatballs for lunch are exciting and fun. Kids very much eat with their eyes first.

Homemade meatballs that feel decadent, but are easy to make even on a busy weeknight. Pair the oven-baked meatballs with the simple homemade sauce.

Today’s recipe is ideal for back to school time. Making homemade meatballs and a homemade sauce to accompany those meatballs may sound like a weekend project, but this recipe is made for weeknights. It’s easy to make and doesn’t require any chopping. The meatballs and sauce are purposely made with the simplest of pantry ingredients, yet they both feel decadent–as though you’ve spent hours in the kitchen. (Remember the capsule pantry we talked about a few months ago? This recipe is the perfect example of a capsule pantry meal.)

Besides being easy to make, the recipe yields around 24 meatballs, depending on size. This means, if you have a small family like ours, you’ll have plenty leftover for lunches. And guess what that means for Piper? Meatball skewers with dipping sauce!

4.75 from 4 votes
Print

Decadent Weeknight Oven-Baked Meatballs with an Easy Homemade Sauce (Meal Prep and Gluten-Free Option)

Homemade meatballs that feel decadent, but are easy to make even on a busy weeknight. Pair the oven-baked meatballs with the simple homemade sauce for a from-scratch meal prepared in under 1 hour. 

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword Oven-Baked Meatballs
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Calories 3043 kcal
Author Kristin Marr

Ingredients

Meatballs:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb ground pork or sub with 1lb of ground beef*
  • 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs or 1/2 cup blanched almond flour
  • 1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup whole milk or unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Tomato Sauce:

  • 28 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 TB extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt to taste
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder

Special Equipment:

Instructions

For the Sauce:

  1. Add all the sauce ingredients to a medium saucepan and combine well.

  2. Simmer the sauce over low heat while assembling and baking the meatballs (about 30 min). The sauce may be made ahead of time and reheated.

For the Meatballs:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper for easy clean up. You can also bake the meatballs without parchment paper. 

  2. Add all the ingredients except the meat to a large mixing bowl and combine well.

  3. Add the meat and gently combine using your hands.

  4. Divide the mixture into golf ball sized meatballs. I get about 24 meatballs. A cookie scooper works well to form the meatballs. 

  5. Place the meatballs on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until cooked through. 

  6. Serve the meatballs with the sauce over your favorite cooked pasta. 

Recipe Notes

* I prefer to use 2 lbs of ground beef instead of 1 lb pork and 1 lb ground beef. This is up to you. Helen, who perfected this recipe, prefers a beef and pork combo. 

Homemade meatballs that feel decadent, but are easy to make even on a busy weeknight. Pair the oven-baked meatballs with the simple homemade sauce.

Share This Recipe

See my lifestyle in real life

More from Kristin Marr

Live Simply, The Podcast Episode 023: The Encouragement You Need to Grow Your Own Food with Lacey from The Rab Farm

This post may contain affiliate links. Affiliate links come at no extra...
Read More

11 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *