Years ago, when I had just moved out on my own to a micro-house in Kress, Texas, I called my mom to get her recipe for meatloaf. The conversation went something like this:
Me: "I need your recipe for meatloaf"
Mom: "Okay, sure. Just mix your ground beef with an egg and some crackers in a bowl-"
Me: "Wait, how much ground beef? How many crackers?"
Mom: "As much as you have - probably about a pound. Crackers - I don't know - 20 or so? Not quite a whole row of saltines."
Me: "Okay, mix it how?"
Mom: "Just smush it up with your hands and shape it into a loaf"
and on and on this went. Till we got to the best part.
Me: "Okay how long do I bake it?"
Mom: "Well, gosh, Crissy. I don't know ... until it's done!"
So, here it is, the recipe as I've made it for over ten years now and as my mom has made it since my childhood. It's different in that the sauce is separate, not mixed in with the beef. It's easily doubled and I usually double it to feed our family. Also, if you double it, you obviously stand a much greater chance of having leftovers, and therefore, meatloaf sandwiches the next day.
1 pound ground beef
20 saltine crackers (in a pinch you can use bread crumbs)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Crumble up the crackers and smush all three ingredients together in a bowl. This is a great job for your kids if you have the patience of a saint and don't mind them (and your countertops) getting a little messy. Add salt and pepper if you like. Form the mixture into the shape of a loaf. Place in a 9 x 13 pan and bake at 400 degrees until done. :) It usually takes about 30 minutes for a 1 lb. loaf; 45 minutes or longer for a 2 lb. loaf. I try to make the 2 lb. loaves thinner so they take less time. You will know it's done if it's not pink when you cut into the center. Unless you like your meatloaf rare. Then it's done when it IS pink in the center. But I don't know of anyone who likes their meatloaf rare.
While the meatloaf is cooking, make the sauce.
1/3 med. size bell pepper
1 small can of tomato sauce
Chop the bell pepper and onion into whatever size pieces you like. I generally chop them pretty large so that, on the off chance that one of the kids actually wants sauce (most of the time they don't), they can pick out the chunks. Saute the onion and pepper on medium heat in butter, margarine, vegetable oil, or olive oil in a small saucepan. If you have some fresh garlic, you can throw that in, too. When the onion and pepper are crisp-tender, add the tomato sauce and heat through.
I don't know why all three of my kids love meatloaf, but they do. The older ones don't care for the sauce, though - they like it dry. Good luck!