If you’re on a tight budget or looking for a quick and easy dinner option, you might have come across Hamburger Helper at your local grocery store. For those who aren’t familiar, Hamburger Helper is a boxed meal kit that includes pasta or rice, a seasoning blend, and sometimes canned sauce or cheese. All you need to add is ground beef and water, and you can have a meal on the table in under 30 minutes.
But the question remains: Is Hamburger Helper good or bad for you? In this post, we’ll explore the ins and outs of Hamburger Helper, including its history and ingredients, and discuss the nutritional value of Hamburger Helper. We’ll also provide some tips on how to make Hamburger Helper better (if you still want to eat it), as well as a recipe for homemade hamburger helper that’s healthier and more flavorful.
Why Do People Use Hamburger Helper?
There are several reasons why people might turn to Hamburger Helper as a meal solution. For one, it’s cheap. A box of Hamburger Helper typically costs less than $2 and can feed a family of four. It’s also incredibly easy to make – all you need is ground beef and water, two ingredients that most people have on hand.
Another reason people might choose Hamburger Helper is that it’s a convenient option for busy weeknights. With little time to spare, people often reach for easy meal solutions that require little preparation or cooking time. Hamburger Helper fits that bill perfectly, as it can be on the table in under 30 minutes.
What Was in Hamburger Helper?
Hamburger Helper was first introduced in 1971 by the Betty Crocker brand, owned by General Mills. The original flavors included beef stroganoff, chili, and lasagna, and the kits came with pasta and a seasoning blend that included salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic powder.
Since then, the Hamburger Helper product line has expanded to include more than 40 flavors, including cheeseburger macaroni, crispy taco, and three-cheese lasagna. Some varieties also include a sauce or cheese packet, adding even more flavor to the meal.
The ingredients in Hamburger Helper can vary depending on the flavor, but most kits include pasta or rice, a seasoning blend, and sometimes canned sauce or cheese. The seasoning blend typically includes salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and other spices. Some kits also include dehydrated vegetables like carrots and peas.
Is Hamburger Helper Good or Bad for You?
Now, let’s get to the heart of the matter: Is Hamburger Helper good or bad for you? The answer, as with many things in life, is complicated.
On the one hand, Hamburger Helper is a relatively low-cost meal option that can feed a family of four for under $2. It’s also an easy meal to make, requiring only minimal prep work and cooking time. And, compared to some other processed food options, Hamburger Helper doesn’t contain a ton of additives or preservatives.
However, on the other hand, Hamburger Helper is not exactly a nutritional powerhouse. Many varieties are high in sodium, with some containing up to 1,300 milligrams of sodium per serving (which is over half of the recommended daily intake). Some flavors also contain trans fats, which are known to be bad for heart health.
Overall, Hamburger Helper should be viewed as a once-in-a-while meal solution rather than an everyday option. If you do choose to eat it, be sure to watch your portion sizes and pair it with some healthier sides, like a side salad or some steamed veggies.
How Do You Make Hamburger Helper Better?
If you’re someone who enjoys the taste and convenience of Hamburger Helper but wants to make it a bit healthier and more flavorful, there are a few things you can do.
First, try using lean ground beef instead of regular ground beef. This will lower the fat content of the meal and make it a bit healthier. You could also add some extra veggies to the mix, like diced bell peppers, onions, or mushrooms. This will add some nutrients and fiber to the meal, as well as some extra flavor.
Another option is to swap out the water for a low-sodium broth or stock. This will give the dish more flavor without adding too much sodium. You could also add some herbs and spices to the mix, like oregano, thyme, or basil, to give it a bit more depth.
Homemade Hamburger Helper Allrecipes
Finally, if you’re looking for a healthier and more flavorful alternative to boxed Hamburger Helper, why not try making your own from scratch? This recipe from Allrecipes is a great option.
– 1 pound lean ground beef
– 1 cup uncooked elbow macaroni
– 1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
– 1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
– 1 cup water
– 1 tablespoon chili powder
– 1 teaspoon garlic powder
– 1 teaspoon onion powder
– 1/2 teaspoon paprika
– 1/4 teaspoon cumin
– Salt and pepper to taste
1. In a large skillet, cook the ground beef over medium heat until browned. Drain any excess fat.
2. Add the elbow macaroni, diced tomatoes (with juice), tomato sauce, water, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cumin, salt, and pepper to the skillet. Stir well to combine.
3. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and let it simmer, covered, for 20-25 minutes or until the macaroni is tender. Stir occasionally.
4. Serve and enjoy!
This homemade version of Hamburger Helper has similar flavors to the boxed version, but it’s much healthier and more flavorful. Plus, it’s just as easy to make as the boxed version, but with fresher ingredients and better nutrition.
In conclusion, Hamburger Helper can be a cheap and convenient meal option for those on a tight budget or with limited time. However, it’s important to be aware that it’s not the healthiest option out there, and should be consumed in moderation. If you do choose to eat it, try some of the tips mentioned above to make it a bit healthier and more flavorful. Or, for a healthier and tastier option, try making your own from scratch!