Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Redefining Hamburger Helper

Hamburger Helper
It's Cooking

      Ok,  why would I do a blog on Hamburger Helper?  Good question. I hate the stuff and it amazes me that so many people use it. So I decided recently to make some just to see what the attraction was to this product, and products like it.

     The next few blogs will be dealing with packaged goods that most of America uses. At first I thought that maybe it was the cost,  that it was cheaper to buy the box than to make it from scratch. That is not the case, in fact it is almost double the price. I thought that it might be the ease of making it. Faster and less work, well not true, it takes less time to make it from scratch. Last of all, I thought it was the flavor. No it was not the flavor either.  So what is the attraction of packaged meals?

      I think it is advertising. They know what they are doing. They, the packaged food Mafia, have us convinced that it is cheaper, easier, and taste better. They prey upon how busy we are, and how we need meals that take just minutes to prepare. Why bother with all the mess and fuss? Just buy the box and wham, like magic you have a wonderful healthy dinner. And the thing that gets me is that we all fall for it. We stock our cupboards with boxes and boxes of meals that we can make in minutes. Taking no thought for the future, just thinking about filling an immediate need, feeding our families. If we really thought about how the foods we are eating and feeding our families effect our lives down the road,  I think we would make better choices.

      So what is the big problem I have with packaged foods?  IT IS THE CHEMICALS WE ARE FILLING OUR BODIES WITH. Yes that is it.  Have you ever read the list of ingredients that are in that supposed simple meal in a box. Amazing. The box of Hamburger Helper has listed 50 + ingredients, including hydrogenated fats and food colorings. Most of the list I have no idea what they are.

     I made the same type meal with less than ten ingredients and they were natural and organic. No dyes, no bad fats and no chemicals to keep it fresh.

     I guess is what I am saying is, Come on people, take a look at what you are eating, take some responsibility for what you are feeding your families,  the easy way is not always as it seems.

     Can you tell, this is a touchy subject with me.

     This is what I really think, first of all, we have desensitized our taste buds if we think foods out of the box taste great. Second, if we really want to be healthy, we have to take back control of the foods we eat, put the "Packaged Food Mafia" back where they belong,  in the trash. And third, start cooking again. I mean bring out the saute pan, and the knifes, and the fresh produce, and the chemical free seasonings, and start enjoying food how it should be prepared, with love and devoid of toxins, that simply are destroying America.

    Now I will tell you how I prepared my own personal hamburger helper. I prepared the boxed version next to my version from scratch and it took the same amount of time, in fact my version was faster. The boxed version you have to cook on low for 12 minutes, my version took about 9 minutes.  Here is what I did. Put a pot of water on to boil,  started cooking the ground beef, made a roux, cooked the pasta, drained the pasta, added the roux to the cooked meat, added milk, cooked until thick, added cheese, pasta, and seasoned it. It tasted great and was chemical free.

     About the cost, The boxed version cost $1.70, it had 5 oz. of pasta and seasoning with imitation cheese powder or something like that with a thickening agent. It called for butter, milk, and ground beef.  My version,  I did a pound of pasta for $1.00,  used spelt flour for the thickening agent, milk, butter, all natural seasoning, and fresh cheese. It was not cheaper to use the box and I ended up with more food for my family. Oh I also added some cooked red quinoa.

     So the truth is, homemade is cheaper, better for you, and saves you time. And I had everyone taste both, all agreed the my fresh version was better.  ome did say they liked the boxed version, but they did admit mine did have more flavor and they felt like eating more of it. The boxed version tired the taste buds out for some reason.

     I, like most of you struggle with feeding my family. It is a chore to come up with creative ideas day in and day out. It is easy to cave in and do the seemingly simple things,  but we must ask ourselves if what are doing is helping or hindering those we feed. I chose to take the time and prepare meals that not only taste great, but are of benefit to our bodies. It does take some time and thought, but in the end it will be worth the effort.    Have a great day,  Chef Brad~America's Grain Guy

My Version has brown rice pasta

     Pasta's have gotten better over the past few years.  I remember the first whole grain pasta that came out,  it was bad.   Now most are really good and add so much more flavor and nutrition to our diet.

Browning the Meat.

     I browned the meat.  I usually add grains to my meat to extend and add much needed nutrition.  I try to keep cooked grains in the fridge at all times. If you are determined to eat boxed foods at least add grains to the meal.

Cooking the Rice Pasta

  This pasta actually cooked up faster than the way they cooked the one in the box.

Making the roux

I added Red Quinoa to my version. 

I used Spelt Flour for the roux.

    I made a simple roux to thicken my meal. A Roux is equal parts flour and oil or butter.  I used spelt flour to make it.


Mine is the light one, note the red quinoa.

Side by side mine looks great.   Mine is the white one.
The bright yellow is colored with chemicals.

Guess which one won the taste test. 

Chef Brad's Hamburger Helper Recipe
I wanted to be close to the ingredients of the Boxed one.  It could be a lot better with added ingredients.

1 pound of pasta, whole grain
1 pound of ground beef
2 to 3 cups milk
2 cups fresh grated cheese
1/3 cup spelt flour
1/3 cup butter or oil
1 tablespoon seasoning,  I used Chicago Steak  from Penzeys
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 cup red cooked quinoa

Cook pasta according to instructions on package.   Brown meat, set aside.  I large sauce pan make roux by adding oil or butter and flour.  When well blended add milk and stir until thick.  Add seasonings, pasta, meat, and cheese.  Stir well.  Enjoy


  1. I used to do this all the time as a single mom with a large family. We called it Homemade Hamburger Helper or triple H. I'm sure my version had less salt and calories, also, for less money and more flavor. A winner of an idea!

  2. This was so thrilling to read!