By Mike Thayer

I love casseroles, all types, dinner casseroles, breakfast casseroles, leftover casserole for lunch....  It's all good and the flavor possibilities and combinations are endless! 

Casseroles can mean different things to different people, so just what IS a casserole anyway, how is it defined?  For me, being a bachelor and pretty handy in the kitchen (patting self on back....), it means a simple to prepare one-dish meal, something that's got meat, a starch, a veggie and a gravy, or a sauce and/or cheese to go with it.  It's a convenient mix of ingredients that go well together and is baked to perfection in the oven - THAT is a casserole.    And yes, the dish it's baked in was named after it.   Simplicity and convenience are keys to a good casserole, it can't be a complicated recipe that's labor intensive.  If that recipe takes more than 10-15 minutes to prepare before you're throwing that dish in the oven, then it's NOT a casserole in my book.  

2018-10-19 19.15.47(1)Today we're taking a look at a classic, Tater Tot Casserole.  I had this a lot as a kid, it was one of my Mom's go-to casseroles to put in the oven after a long day at work.   And it was and still is a kid favorite, I mean, what's not to like, ground beef, cheese, tater tots.....  YUM!  It's an easy-peasy casserole to put together too, about the hardest thing to do is browning the hamburger.

Ingredients:

  • One pound of lean ground beef

  • 1/2 medium onion, diced

  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1 teaspoon seasoning salt

  • 1 can of cream of mushroom soup

  • 1-1/2 cups frozen peas

  • 2 cups shredded mild cheddar cheese

  • Enough tater tots to cover, about 2 cups

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley flake

Directions:  Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  In a large skillet, brown the lean ground beef, drain any excess fat.  Add the onion, garlic powder and seasoning salt to the meat and cook until the onion is translucent, about 4 - 5 minutes.  Add the cream of mushroom soup and mix to incorporate.  Pour the meat mixture into a lightly greased casserole dish, then layer in the peas and the shredded cheese, hitting each layer with a little black pepper as you go.  Finally, top the casserole with the tater tots.  Bake for 35 - 40 minutes or until those tater tots are golden, brown and delicious.  Season the tots immediately after pulling the casserole out of the oven with salt and pepper, then sprinkle with the parsley flake.  Enjoy! 

And here's another Bachelor on the Cheap wallet friendly benefit to casseroles, not only do they lend themselves to leftovers, but they freeze well!  After you've enjoyed the casserole for dinner, portion it out, perhaps have some for lunch tomorrow and stash the remainder in the freezer for a future meal or two.

Next Up:  Tuna Noodle Casserole

Coming Soon:  Breakfast Casserole

For more easy casserole dinner ideas, go to www.bacheloronthecheap.com

$pend Wisely My Friends...