Sunday, October 23, 2011

0 Home made beef and macaroni vs Hamburger Helper Chili Macaroni

An American Stir Fry?...A Casserole?... What exactly is Hamburger Helper?...

A friend of mine, Danny, mentioned that he couldn't understand why people used Shake 'N Bake or Hamburger Helper – well I had to agree with him and it gave me the idea to do this article. I've never made Hamburger Helper in my life – and I'm not going to either... I'll just make my own dish that's similar and give you the ingredients to compare to Hamburger Helper.  

Just looking at all the different “flavors” of Hamburger Helper made me sick to my stomach – never mind the list of ingredients. Somehow a package of Hamburger Helper makes 5 servings, I can't figure that out so my recipe may give you a little more actual food and I think 4 realistic servings.

Beef and Macaroni
8 oz macaroni (get whole grain, if possible)
4 cups water
1 lb 85% lean (or better) ground beef
½ onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic crushed
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes (get low-sodium, remember to read the label - no “extra” ingredients)
1 Tbl parsley
2 tsp chili powder
¼ tsp salt
2 Tbl olive oil

In a medium pot, bring water to boil, add macaroni, turn down heat and cook for 12 minutes, drain. Heat oil in frying pan, add garlic and onion, saute for 1 minute, add beef, cook, stirring occasionally until brown. Add tomatoes, and spices. Cook for 5 minutes. Add macaroni, mix well, turn off heat, cover for 2 minutes, stir and serve.  

According to Betty Crocker – a serving size is 1 cup prepared. Somehow that's how they get 5 servings out of their meal. I think that this should make 8 - 1 cup servings, and more if you add vegetables to it.

Price of home made Beef and Macaroni: $1.80 + ground beef for 8 servings, 23 cents per serving
Price of Hamburger Helper Chili Macaroni: $2.19 + ground beef for 5 servings, 43 cents per serving

Ingredients in home made: Beef, macaroni, garlic, onion, tomato, parsley, chili powder,salt, olive oil

Ingredients in Hamburger Helper Chili Macaroni: Beef, macaroni, flour, cornstarch, sugar, salt, dried onion, dried chili pepper, dried tomato, paprika, monosodium glutamate, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, natural flavor, citric acid, spices, silicon dioxide, malic acid, monoglycerides, caramel color, yellow lakes 5 & 6 color, yellows 5 & 6 color, dried garlic, sunflower oil, gum arabic, disodium guanylate, disodium inosinate, yeast extract, nonfat milk, egg, soy flour.

Time to prepare home made Beef and Macaroni: About 15 minutes
Time to prepare Hamburger Helper Chili Macaroni: About 25 minutes

Well you may wonder why Hamburger Helper takes longer to cook – it's because you use only one pot, so you can't cook the macaroni while you're browning the meat. I don't know about you, but it doesn't take me 10 minutes to wash one pot. Really, processed foods aren't always quicker to cook – they just tell you it is! Also by making it from scratch, you save .20 cents per serving. You're also not eating all those unpronounceable ingredients and food colorings (and yes, there really were two different kinds of yellow 5 & 6).

Now, with this recipe I was just comparing to Hamburger Helper. If I actually made this meal (and I do make something similar) I would have added a green or red bell pepper, mushrooms, green beans and maybe a carrot. You could also add some yellow squash, zucchini or eggplant. You might even be able to hide some spinach in there.  If you like "cheesy" dishes you could add some grated parmesan or cheddar cheese.

Nutritional Data for Beef and Macaroni     Nutritional Data for Hamburger Helper Chili Mac
Calories 272                                                  Calories 270
Total Fat 12 g                                                Total Fat 12 g
    Saturated Fat 4 g                                            Saturated Fat 4 g
    Trans Fat 1 g                                                  Trans Fat 1 g
Cholesterol 38 mg                                         Cholesterol 55 mg
Sodium 133 mg                                             Sodium 590 mg
Total Carbohydrates 25 g                              Total Carbohydrates 22 g
    Dietary Fiber 2 g                                            Dietary Fiber 1 g
    Sugar 2 g                                                        Sugar 2 g
Protein 15 g                                                   Protein 20 g*
Vitamin A 8%                                                 Vitamin A 8%
Vitamin C 11%                                               Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 5%                                                   Calcium 2%
Iron 17%                                                         Iron 15%

* I don't know what kind of ground beef they think people are using that they are getting 5 g more protein, I suspect that most of the people that are buying hamburger helper are actually buying 70% lean - so in fact they are actually getting more fat and less protein than Betty Crocker's nutritional label states.

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