Grandpa’s Meal in a Bowl

Meal in a Bowl from Relish the Feast

Some foods taste like memories. There are 3 main foods that I closely associate with my grandparents: shrimp cocktail, Harvey Wallbanger cake and good, homemade soup. They’re both 90 now, and I’m insanely lucky to (a) still have them with us and (b) have a great relationship with them.

While visiting them recently, Grandpa made Meal in a Bowl for dinner. The name suits it. Full of vegetables with just enough ground beef and a splash of barley, it pretty much hits all the food groups – especially if you sprinkle shaved parm on top.

I asked for the recipe. This is what Grandpa told me:

“Well, you brown the beef in a pot. Add your vegetables. Let that cook a little. Then you use beef stock or water with beef bouillon, but I prefer the stock, and let it cook. Then you add the barley. Let it simmer a bit longer, and it’ll be ready when you’re ready.”

So…that’s what I had to work with when trying to recreate Meal in a Bowl. It’s not just like Grandpa’s, but it’s pretty delish. The directions are above. The ingredients are below. This makes a surprisingly large amount, so use a big pot.

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 carrot
  • 1/4 bunch of celery (leaves, too)
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 2 yellow squash
  • 3 mini sweet peppers (optional, I just needed to use mine before they went bad.)
  • 1 pack of trimmed green beans
  • 2 boxes of beef stock
  • 1 box of water (use the beef stock box, it doesn’t have to be totally full. This is optional if you think there’s already enough liquid)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano (optional, flavor to your liking, Grandpa adds Mrs Dash to his bowl when eating.)
  • 1/2 cup barley (not the pearled kind)
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