The boxed stuff is OK, but this is SO much better!
By Mike Thayer
Hamburger Helper made its national debut in August 1971 and it was an instant success. With five flavors – Beef Noodle, Potato Stroganoff, Hash, Rice Oriental and Chili Tomato, America embraced the convenience that is Hamburger Helper. Pretty much a casserole mix in a box, all you have to do is brown a pound of ground beef, add the Hamburger Helper ingredients per the box directions and you've got dinner in less than 30 minutes.
It was a family budget meal back in the day and still is, bachelors included. Today's price for a box of Hamburger Helper (going foward we'll call it HH) averages about $2.39 a box. Popular stuff, it didn't take long for the mainstream grocery stores to conclude they needed to grab some of that market share, contracting private label makers to create a store brand version of HH.
An easy peasy meal to make, comfort food city. It freezes well too.
Never pay full price! Not even for the store brand stuff.
The store brand stuff is cheaper and essentially the same casserole in a box kind of thing having a name such as "Skillet Meal" and the like. There was a time when the grocery store would have a sale of their discount skillet meal, 10 boxes for $10, but I haven't seen one of those sales in quite awhile and I wonder if it's now a thing of the past with inflation such as it is. I used to take advantage of those sales, stocking my pantry with the meals.
The good news is you can make your own HH with just a few ingredients and it tastes better. Bonus - what you make won't have NEAR the sodium. A prepared box of HH can contain up to 990 milligrams of sodium per serving, which is nearly half the daily recommended amount - in one meal!
Here's a recipe for some home made HH, a potato stroganoff version, one of my personal favorites.
Bachelor on the Cheap Potato Stroganoff
- One pound ground beef (I actually like to use a 50/50 mix of ground beef and ground pork for another layer of flavor)
- 3-5 medium sized Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, sliced
- 1 medium onion, rough chopped
- 1 can cream of mushroom soup
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 3 generous dollops of sour cream (1 for garnish)
- 1 Tablespoon Parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley (for garnish)
In a large skillet (preferably one you can transfer to the oven if desired and if you do, preheat the oven to 350 degrees) over medium heat, brown the ground meat and onion, adding the black and cayenne pepper. While that's cooking, rinse the potatoes, pierce with a knife or fork and microwave until not quite fork tender. After cooking, set aside for a few minutes until cool enough to handle, peel and slice. Add the minced garlic, mushroom soup and sliced potatoes to the meat mixture, stirring occasionally. Add two dollops of the sour cream and stir until incorporated. STOVETOP: Let simmer on low for about 10 minutes. After 10 minutes it's ready to eat, sprinkle on the Parmesan cheese, parsley flake, hit it with more sour cream and serve. OVEN BAKE: Bake for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Top with the Parmesan cheese and bake for another 10 minutes or until the top turns golden, brown and delicious. Let cool for 5-10 minutes, top with the parsley and sour cream, serve.
This recipe makes for a better serving of HH, you get to control the ingredients (and the sodium) and it really doesn't take up all that much more time to make. Play with it, add bacon bits, shredded cheddar cheese, add sliced mushroom, include some green peas... There are a lot of tasty options to try! This recipe is also very Bachelor on the Cheap wallet friendly, using items you probably already have in your pantry and fridge. Never pay full price for HH! Buy it when it's on sale, better yet, make your own!
$pend Wisely My Friends...
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