I will admit it- I LOVE Hamburger Helper. My mom used to make it a few times a month, when we were growing up, and somewhere along the way, it has joined the ranks with homemade macaroni & cheese, lasagna, and chicken enchiladas as a comfort food for me.
This is pretty ironic, since all the other comfort foods I make are from scratch. I suppose at times, everybody craves a processed, sodium, preservative enriched food. One time I posted on Twitter I was making Hamburger Helper for dinner, and one person told me that is THE meal her husband requests every year for his birthday. The flavor he always wanted? Beef Pasta!
The ONLY flavor of Hamburger Helper that I have ever eaten and probably ever will, is the Beef Pasta. That was the only flavor my mom ever served, so Hamburger Helper to me, means Beef Pasta (but when we were growing up, it was called Beef Noodle). With green beans. Plus, I add a little Worcheister sauce to it as it cooks. And I always use milk instead of water, to mix up the special seasoning packet. It ends up much thicker that way. On a cold winter night, it is hard to find anything that tastes as good as Beef Pasta Hamburger Helper cooked this way.
Because it is a comfort food, I don’t eat it very often. Maybe three times over the winter. I hate that it is processed, but it tastes so good. Ryan and Cole are picky eaters. I have no idea where they get that from (me). But, even they like and will eat good old Hamburger Helper. They will even eat some green beans with it. Maybe Hamburger Helper is a taste that is acquired genetically.
Because it is not the healthiest food to eat, the other day I was in the store and spotted Annie’s Homegrown Organic Cheeseburger Macaroni. The boys’ favorite food ever is Annie’s Mac & Cheese, and I don’t feel quite as guilty giving it to them, since it is all natural and doesn’t have the additives and preservatives in it. This looked great! It was Hamburger Helper, with no guilt. I bought a package and decided to make it that night.
The boys always ask what is for dinner, and I told them we were going to have Hamburger Helper with cheese- like mac & cheese. They got that look- where they know you are trying to pull something over on them, but don’t know what it is yet. I made green beans too.
I was convinced the boys would dig right in, and I would feel good they had a healthy dinner. As soon as Ryan and Cole the food critics saw me bring their plates to the table, they faces turned down. They looked at their plates and at healthy organic version of Hamburger Helper that I might add, costs almost double what the original version of Hamburger Helper does, as they turned up their noses.
My precious two-and-a-half year old looked at me with his blue eyes and asked,
“What the heck is this?”
I didn’t even know he knew the word ‘heck.’
My other precious son, had to get his two-cents in, so he just made the comment,
I was the organic Hamburger Helper cheerleader. I told them to give it a try- they might like it. I even sang the old commercial song about Hamburger Helper:
“Hamburger Helper Helped her Hamburger, Make a Great Meal!“ (click on the link to hear the song.)
The boys were not amused. And it wasn’t even because of my singing. They ignored my cheerleading, and asked if they could have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I told them they had to eat some of their Hamburger Helper.
“But Mommy, this isn’t Hamburger Helper.” Ryan told me.
“Not Hamburger Helper- this is YUCKY!” Cole added.
They had a point- it didn’t look like our beloved Beef Pasta Hamburger Helper.
“This isn’t even mac & cheese.” Ryan told me upon further inspection, poking the hamburger around on his plate.
“This is YUCKY!” Cole added, holding up a piece of hamburger.
I was not defeated yet. I sat down and told the boys this was a very good dinner and I was going to eat my plate of Hamburger Helper. I took my first bite, and it wasn’t bad- but it wasn’t Hamburger Helper. Ryan and Cole watched me eat a few more bites, and then Ryan tried a bite. He looked like he was eating a cross between some dirt and some mud. After he took a huge drink of milk he told Cole, “It’s not too bad Cole.” Cole’s response was, “YUCKY!”
I had Cole eat a few bites, which was not fun, and the boys ate their green beans. Then they were done. As I was clearing the plates away, I overheard Ryan tell Cole “to watch mom at the store, and make sure she never buys that yucky food again.” I think the food critics have evolved now into food spies- they are going to cut me off at the pass.
Since we don’t eat regular Hamburger Helper very often, I will just stick to the original processed version. The boys like it, I like it, and they won’t have to hear me sing a commercial jingle from the 80′s. Some things shouldn’t be changed, and Hamburger Helper is one of them.
Now it is your turn- do you like Hamburger Helper? Do your kids like it? Which flavor is your favorite? Let me know I am not the only Hamburger Helper lover out there.