The Helpful Hamburger

Did you grow up eating Hamburger Helper?  Or Tuna Helper?  Or anything along those lines?  I hadn’t had anything like that until I went to college and while I thought it was a nifty concept, I couldn’t ever get that odd chemically altered taste out of my mouth.  I’ve tried the “natural” versions of these meal helpers and had much the same opinion.  So really, I don’t do meals like this… until one day I was online and noticed that one of the moms had posted that she had found the solution to this problem on another blog.  I was anxious to try the variations out since a meal that cooks as quickly as this one could be beneficial post baby, right?  I’ve tried a few of the recipes and my husband, who grew up eating the “real” Hamburger Helper said that the flavors were spot on.  In light of that, this woman really spent some time working on the measurements and recipes and I’m impressed.  In fact, I liked the concept so much, that when I went to the butcher to stock up on meats and things a few weeks ago, I had them package up 1lb portions of ground beef so that I could make freezer bags that included the meat, pasta, cheese and spice mixes.  Everything is together and supper is so fast!
In addition to being able to use all my own spices, real cheese and good pasta, I have been adding shredded vegetables into the meat as it cooks.  Just like with my taco recipe, I’ve added carrots on a regular basis.  This weekend, after a long day working outside, my aunt stopped over right at supper time, so I asked her stay.  I made the meal when she wasn’t inside with me, so she had no idea what was going into the pan.  I added a heaping cup of shredded carrots and about a cup of shredded zucchini and didn’t say a word to anyone at the table.  Not only were plates cleared, every one had seconds.  So while I totally neglected to take a photo of any of the times I’ve made this meal, I’ve learned that I can add in even more good stuff and walk away feeling like I really did a good job with supper.  (Note: if you are going to add in the vegetables, you’ll need to add an additional 1/2 cup of water to the recipe to keep the consistency right.)

For the original recipe, head on over to Chickens in the Road and check it out!  Have fun making this recipe (and all the variations!) for the die-hard processed food lovers in your family and watching their faces light up when they realize that fast doesn’t have to have a bunch of unpronounceable ingredients in the recipe.

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