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Creative ways to use for Hamburger Helper that taste better?

Somewhere along the way I ended up with several boxes of Hamburger helper in my pantry. When I was younger I used to enjoy them, but now that I'm older and a bit snobbier in my tastes I just can't do it. I don't want to waste it, but any time my husband suggests we make it for dinner to use it up I can't help but wrinkle my nose. I can always think of a more favorable dish to make instead.

So what I'm looking for are creative ways to use my Hamburger Helper without preparing it the conventional way? Something that will add more "Real" flavor and not just the weak, processed taste. I don't mind splitting up the noodles and the spices, I'm not too picky about healthiness (If I need to make something with loads of butter, I'll do it) I just want to make use of these few boxes I have!

Here are the flavors sitting on my shelf:
Cheesy Italian Shells
Four Cheese Lasagna
Double Cheeseburger Macaroni

Any ideas are appreciated!

Thank you :)

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  1. Donate the boxes in the 'food pantry' container at your local store, and make a pasta and burger dish from scratch! :)

    2 Replies
    1. re: gingershelley

      I had considered that! Especially with Christmas coming up and food drives popping up in several places. I always forget that I have it until I'm looking for room on my pantry shelves :) But now that it's on my mind I'll have to remember that...

      1. re: silverdoves

        This time of year I keep a cardboard box in the kitchen. When I come across something in the pantry that I believe should be donated I put it in the box then and there. That way the donation box is packed and ready to go when the kid comes home from school with the food drive flyer or like today when a local TV station is doing drive-through donations at area supermarkets.

    2. Donate them.

      You cannot improve it. It is just nasty processed salt flavor.

        1. re: ipsedixit

          Your answer intrigues me, Ips. How would you make the savory waffles? Is the Hamburger Helper the topping? or is it used in the waffles?

        2. What I would do is separate the spices from the pasta. Make your hamburger into your favorite meatball recipe, cook and set aside. Cook up the pasta, drain, and add a mix of sauteed onions, garlic, and passata (or blended diced tomatoes) with some basil/oregano/rosemary seasonings plus salt and pepper of course and set aside. Take the mix/spices that you've set aside. Add them to 2 cups of hot water. Stir well. Set aside. Plate the pasta/tomatoes, top with the meatballs. Top with grated reggiano. Then carefully take the prepared spice mix and pour it down the drain. Enjoy!

          1. Doctor them up with chopped onion, mushrooms, whatever veg is on hand. Add some better cheese and spices.

            But the food pantry is a great idea if you're on the fence about using these. Just put them in your car trunk so that next time you're at a market where they are collecting, you're ready.

            1. pick or combine options:

              use well-seasoned sausage (cooked and drained) in lieu of hamburger.

              add pureed piquillo peppers or some slices of pimento or roasted red peppers

              add sauteed mushrooms

              add smoked paprika

              add black olives, or better, split kalamatas

              dice in some cherry tomatoes, or use some pico de gallo.

              use some pickled banana pepper slices or the pickled cherry peppers (be creful, the hot ones are very hot).

              add a dash of worcestershire

              top with freshly snipped italian parsley or use good quality dried oregano (rubbed between your fingers to break up) into the sauce

              add some thinly sliced garlic or roasted garlic

              ~~~~~
              cooks illustrated on tv had a show on one skillet pasta meals, and they might have some seasoning ideas for you to explore. maybe also "everyday food."

              1. Hamburger helper has some pretty good ideas. One of my favorites is peppers stuffed lasagna. Also the cheesy Italian shells is good with mixed veggies mixed in

                1 Reply
                1. re: p_ingwen

                  Hey I am loving the idea of adding mixed vegies to the Cheesy
                  Italian Shells.My family and I just moved to Stockton,CA.We used
                  the Emergency Food Bank to give us a little boost.This place gives
                  so much Hamburger Helper.I love that Hamburger Helper it is quick and
                  easy especially on record breaking temperature days.

                2. I agree. Donate it to a shelter for someone who needs it....and will enjoy it.

                  1. i add pepperoni, Italian spices, garlic powder, a lil sausage, and top with mozzarella, then its tolerable and fast!

                    1. "I dont know why they call it hamburger helper, its just fine the way it is." - Cousin Eddie

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: jlanham

                        I was thinking the same thing when I saw the headline!

                        1. re: jlanham

                          I felt Hamburger Helper was fine just the way it is also.I never
                          really added anything extra.I guess its called Hamburger Helper because it has the noodles in it.Instead of cooking a plain jane
                          Hamburger you could just add the meat to Pasta/Sauce.

                        2. I was just introduced to the Cheesy Italian Shells Hamburger
                          Helper.It is so good,I cannot get enough.I don't know what I
                          can add to that flavor.Tonight I am fixing Stroganoff Hamburger
                          Helper.I was going to add some Mushrooms and onions.I went to check
                          the Mushrooms and they were like soup.So that put a hook line and
                          sinker in my plans for today.I can only add the onion.Now for Cheeseburger Macaroni you could could add some Green Beans and
                          diced Tomatoes.I have never added any additions.I read this on the
                          box.

                          1. If you add sliced cabbage that you have steamed or sauteed without seasoning, it will stretch the amount, compensate for some of the excessive salt, and add some vegetable nutrients and fiber.

                            Note that this is an old thread, revived by a first-time poster who unlike most of the previous responders,enjoys Hamburger Helper. In general, there's enough salt in products like this, and packaged mac&cheese, that you can easily add your own dry pasta to double the amount in the box, and still not lack for seasoning in the final dish. Add extra milk or tomato puree if you want it saucier.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: greygarious

                              um, i didnt say i LIKED it, i said it was tolerable. big diff. with 3 kids it cant be gourmet EVERY NIGHT, and im sure its no worse than an occasional pizza. right?

                              1. re: nikkizazz

                                I said that Smiley881, the person who posted today to bump the thread, likes it, as s/he clearly does. NOT you - no need to be defensive.

                                1. re: greygarious

                                  sorry, dont wanna be known as "that new girl who LIKES Hamburger Helper". lol. didnt mean to sound cranky, hard to interpret tone like this, ya know? =-O

                              2. re: greygarious

                                Well now it looks like I kicked off a discussion.I love Hamburger Helper.That Cheesy Italian Shells is the best.Thanks for your idea about adding Cabbage.I feel the Cabbage would be better cooked to the
                                side.

                              3. Ah that four cheese Lasanga Hamburger Helper can net
                                you some good Italian Soup.I use hot Italian Sausage
                                in my soup.The other day I cooked some Beef Stroganoff
                                flavor and I just used onions in it.The mushrooms in
                                the fridge had turned to soup.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Smiley881

                                  No need for all that. Plain Hamburger Helper sans meat on a grilled bun with real tomato ketchup a la Cousin Eddie in National Lampoon's Vacation. Better than tuna helper.

                                  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bkExpb...

                                  1. re: James Cristinian

                                    Ha Hamburger Helper on a grilled bun?I will have
                                    to check out the video.

                                2. I substitute chili or sometimes chili and scrambled eggs instead of hamburger and it is different and yummy!

                                  1. I am fixing some Cheese Burger Hamburger Helper for dinner tonight.Does anyone have any suggestions for any add ins I could use?I was thinking about adding a can of Green Beans to the mix.I think I read I could add diced Tomatoes.

                                    1. Might try making appitizers with them. For party, football games, ect. Using wonton wrappers pressed into a oil sprayed mini muffin tin as a cup..375*abt 15-20min. Lasagna,; turn into pizza flavor, adding pieces of mushroom, Pepperoni, Mozz cheese r whatever bits u like on ur pizza.
                                      Cheeseburger add bit of chili flavo,, top w crumble of corn or tortilla chips n grated jack cheese. Abt 1 Tb per cup then layer. Add whatever u like to cups.