My mother used Hamburger Helper meals all through my teen years, and when I got married 30 years ago, I also made sure to have Hamburger Helper on hand for those nights when I didn’t know what to prepare for dinner, or was pressed for time and needed a quick alternative.
My husband loves Hamburger Helper meals, and often makes them himself when I am not in the mood to cook. I have been very pleased to see that Betty Crocker has now made some improvements to this line of boxed meals, making them a healthier alternative over the original Hamburger Helper dinners.
The Whole Grain Stroganoff Hamburger Helper is very similar to the original stroganoff Hamburger Helper, but it substitutes whole grain pasta for white pasta. Just like the original, it is very easy to fix, and only takes a few ingredients to make.
All of the Hamburger Helper meals require only one pound of lean ground beef. This version also calls for a cup of hot water and two cups of milk (we use 2% milk). You mix the browned beef, water, milk, sauce mix and whole grain pasta in a large skillet and bring to a boil. Then you simmer, covered, for 12 minutes, or until your pasta is the perfect consistency. Almost all of these boxed meals tell you that the sauce will thicken as it sits, and it really does, but we had to let it sit a good 5 minutes with the lid off before it did thicken, and this of course lets the meal cool off somewhat. If you want it piping hot, you may have to eat it slightly runny.
Whole Grain Stroganoff Hamburger Helper makes a tasty meal. Betty Crocker does not use any enhanced seasonings like MSG, and there are no artificial flavors added either. The pasta is 100% whole wheat, and is colored light brown, and even though this pasta is whole grain, it does not taste heavy. The noodles, like all whole wheat products, do have a slightly nutty flavor, but this does not take long to get used to. I find that I now prefer the whole grain pasta and rice because they make me feel fuller, so I eat less.
Ingredients (for you label readers) are: Pasta (Whole Wheat Flour), Corn Starch, Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Salt, Whey, Reduced Protein Whey, Hydrolyzed Soy and Corn Protein, Sugar, Natural Flavor, Yeast Extract, Potassium Chloride, Citric Acid, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Onion (Dried), Ricotta Cheese (Dried) (Whey, Milkfat, Lactic Acid, Salt), Parsley Flakes, Lactic Acid, Calcium Lactate, Spice, Silicon Dioxide (Anticaking Agent), Colored with Annatto and Turmeric Extract.
You can see that this meal is quite natural! It seems like a healthier choice than the standard Stroganoff Hamburger Helper, and I love that I am getting whole grains in my diet instead of bleached white flour grains that have been stripped of their natural nutrients.
The box states that it serves five people, but this is a stretch in my opinion. I would say that if this is served with a salad and vegetable, it might serve four adults, but that is pushing it (at least the adult eaters that I know!)! One prepared serving contains 310 calories, 13 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, and 1 gram of trans fat. There are 65 mg of cholesterol, 690 mg of sodium, 2 grams of fiber, 7 grams of sugars, and 23 grams of protein. The front of the box states that each serving contains at least 16 grams of whole grains.
Due to the high amounts of fat and sodium, this is not a meal that I would prepare for my family on a regular basis, but it is nice to have on hand for those hectic evenings, or if you are sick and don’t have time to prepare a meal. If you have a pound of burger thawed out, this meal can be made in under 30 minutes.
Despite the high amounts of salt, I don’t find these meals overly salty. I like to make a few substitutions to the meal as well, such as adding a 4 ounce can of sliced mushrooms (drained), and 1/4-1/2 cup of real dairy sour cream. Even the light sour cream or IMO, which gives the meal more of a homemade taste rather than a boxed taste.
The calorie counts certainly fit into my diet plans, but the high fat content makes this a meal that I would eat in moderation. Still, it is nice to have on hand, and I applaud Betty Crocker for making their Hamburger Helper meals with a healthy twist.