March 13, 2024 3 min read

ByShane Robert

I was a latchkey kid from the age of 6 on. It’s a bit hard for me to imagine that now, especially when I think of my own daughter at that age. At that time, kindergarten was a half day and I would come home alone, make myself a peanut butter and brown sugar sandwich, and watch Matlock. Then I would go outside to play. 

My sisters would come home from their regular school day and do similarly. At some point in the late afternoon, we would come together to try and figure out what we were going to eat for dinner; that is unless we managed to crash dinner at a friend's house, which I probably did at least 3 days a week. My mother was very conscious of the link between nutrition and health and tried to limit junk food in the house. Of course, we ate our fair share of Kraft dinners and Top Ramen, but it was probably more often that we would have spaghetti, eggs or a sandwich. Easy stuff for kids to cook. 

Despite having to work long hours and leave us alone to live like feral children, my mom was a good cook and tried her best to have food ready for us. This food prep proved to be a middling success, probably more to do with our errors than anything inherently wrong with the food, and I am not too proud to take a lot of the blame for it not working better. I WILL NOT, however, take blame for the one dish that sewed fear into the hearts of everyone in the house - Mom’s Meatloaf. 

I happen to love meatloaf. When it is done well. Lord knows she tried, but mom’s meatloaf was not, ever, done well, even when trying different recipes. As a kid, I never understood why she kept trying, though as an adult I can appreciate that it’s a very easy food to prep ahead of time and simply throw in the oven when needed. As such, I have searched for the best meatloaf recipe I could find that is also “healthy.” 

I believe I have done that. 

The recipe below is tasty, easy to make, and full of protein. It can be prepped ahead of time and cooked the day of, or cooked and stored in the fridge for about 5 days. 


1 lb ground meat (I use 93% lean ground beef or turkey)
1 C cottage cheese (I ONLY use the Daisy brand. All others seem to have weird fillers and gums that I don’t like in this recipe)
1 egg lightly beaten
1/4 C tomato paste
1/4 C chopped onion
1-2 T Grated parmesan cheese 
1 T Dijon or Whole Grain Mustard
1/2 C Oats
1 tsp. salt or to taste
1/4 tsp. Pepper
1 tsp. Maggi Seasoning (optional)
1-2 T Ketchup mixed with 1-2 T water
1/3 C grated Parmesan cheese


  1. In a bowl, combine all the ingredients except the last two and mix well, kneading into a ball. Press into an ungreased 8 inch square baking pan. Brush the top with the ketchup mixture. 
  2. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Brush with more of the ketchup mixture and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese; bake 10-15 minutes longer or until meat is no longer pink. 
  3. Drain; let stand for 10 minutes before cutting.

Note: Cooking times may vary depending if the loaf is mixed ahead of time and comes right out of the fridge for cooking.

This is the base and is quite customizable. Feel free to add any other spices or herbs that you like, for example, some people insist on nutmeg being in their loaf.

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