Easier Than Hamburger Helper

A friend requested a Hamburger Helper replacement and I thought that sounded super easy! At least, until I realized that I have no idea what Hamburger Helper tastes like. Then, I happened across a few homemade hamburger helper recipes on my Pinterest feed, and took a peek.

I had a few issues wit the recipes, though. Partly from an allergen stand point, the recipes wouldn’t have worked for us. But beyond that, they relied heavily on processed ingredients for flavor. Bullion, packets of seasoning, powdered milk, etc. So, I kept “cooking” on the recipes.

I finally decided that what would work for me was the concept of a similar skillet meal, made with fresh ingredients. And let me just say, what I turned out is not only EASIER than its boxed counterpart and its homemade replacement, but it is so good that my pickiest eater chowed it down twice in two weeks and begged me to make it again soon!

So, of course I am sharing the recipe.

Easier Than Hamburger Helper

Cooking time: 20 minutes
Serves 4-6


  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups pasta
  • Oregano, sage, garlic powder, dried minced onion, salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup ketchup or seasoned tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups veggies of your choice (optional)
  • Shredded cheese or cheese replacement (optional)


  1. Brown the ground beef in a large skillet. Drain the grease if needed.
  2. Add 2 cups water and the pasta to the beef in the skillet. I used gluten free pasta shapes, but any pasta will work. Whole grain pasta is the healthiest option.
  3. Add your seasonings. I give a hearty shake of each, going a bit lighter on the salt and garlic and a bit heavier on the onion. My husband would be perfectly happy with more garlic. Seasoning is actually a matter of personal preference, which is something that you don’t get from a box.
  4. Stir in the ketchup or use tomato sauce and toss in some extra seasonings to add more flavor. I use store bought, organic ketchup. Ketchup can also be made at home.
  5. I toss in veggies with mine, because I add veggies to anything I can. Cut up fresh veggies, or use frozen for more convenience. I like carrot and zucchini in mine.
  6. Simmer for 15 minutes, or until pasta is done.
  7. Stir together and add cheese or cheese replacement if desired.


Now, this is one flavor. If you want to mix it up, just change your seasonings and veggies. For example, add diced tomato and corn, cilantro, chili powder, and paprika, while omitting the sage for a Mexican style flavor.

I hope your family enjoys this recipe as much as mine does!

Kellie Barr blogs at Our Mindful Life which is about paying attention to what it is that we do on a day to day basis and how we impact each other and the planet.

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