Skip to main content

Healthy Hamburger Helper Recipe Alternatives

Stephanie loves trying out new recipes and sharing family favorites!

Easy Homemade Dinner in Less than 20 Minutes

Its 4:30 on Thursday night. What's for dinner?

Believe me that you can have easy homemade dinner in less than 20 minutes (or at least have the prep done within that time so you can relax while it bakes). This doesn't involve fast food, or opening boxes of pre-made dinner from the pantry. If you have a pound of hamburger, there are several great, simple recipes you can make.

We love these Hamburger Helper alternatives! Not only can we include our own herbs, spices and other ingredients, we can keep the fat and sodium content where we want it, as well.

The family that eats together is shown to be a stronger, healthier unit. Just a single meal around the table together can help strengthen relationships and even improve grades.

Talk about smart food!

Pull out some ground beef now and pull up a chair. You'll be on your way to a tasty, filling dinner in no time!

Brown some ground beef and dinner is right around the corner (image from aMichiganMom on Flickr)

Brown some ground beef and dinner is right around the corner (image from aMichiganMom on Flickr)

Hamburger and Gnocchi One-Dish Recipe

Mom's Hamburger Casserole

I grew up with Mom's hamburger casserole at least once a week. You'd think that I would have outgrown or hated the dish by now, but I've made it my own. Mom's version was a little on the bland side, but this casserole is spicier and even quicker to make than ever. No oven baking required.

This recipe serves 6-8 people, and is especially tasty with french bread and fresh salad greens.


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1/c c. chopped button mushrooms
  • 1 can (15 oz.) stewed tomatoes
  • 1 can (15 oz.) canned corn, drained
  • 1 T. chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 T. chopped garlic cloves
  • 1/4 t. chili powder
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. pepper
  • 3 c. cooked and drained pasta (we like egg noodles)
  • 1/3 c. grated parmesan cheese


  1. Brown ground beef and onion together in a fry pan until no pink remains, stirring often. Drain fat.
  2. Add mushrooms, stewed tomatoes, corn, herbs and spices and cook over medium low heat for 2-3 minutes
  3. Add cooked pasta and stir
  4. Allow casserole to continue cooking over low heat for about 5 minutes
  5. Stir in grated cheese and serve
Delicious and easy hamburger casserole

Delicious and easy hamburger casserole

Zucchini and Ground Beef Casserole

Taco Potatoes

We developed this Taco Potatoes recipe last year when my kids would ask for tacos and we would then discover that we often had everything but the shells!

If you are not a potato fan, consider spreading over tortilla chips, sprinkling with meat mixture and 2-3 cups grated cheddar and pepper jack cheese and broiling for 5-7 minutes for delicious nachos.

This recipe serves 6 people at less than 400 calories per serving.

Scroll to Continue


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 packet taco seasoning, or 1/4 c. measured
  • 6 medium russet potatoes, scrubbed


  • 2 c. grated cheddar and/or pepper jack cheese
  • 1 c. grated lettuce
  • 1 c. chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 c. chopped green onions
  • 1 c. crumbled tortilla chips
  • 1/4 c. chopped black olives


  1. Brown ground beef and onion. Drain extra fat.
  2. Stir in taco seasoning, plus 1/4 c. water. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer
  3. Simmer for 5-10 minutes over low heat, stirring frequently
  4. While beef is simmering, wash potatoes and prick with a fork 3-4 times
  5. Microwave potatoes for 15-20 minutes, turning once mid-way through. If you desire to bake your potatoes instead, start them first. Wrap with aluminum foil and bake at 400 degrees for 40-50 minutes

Place potatoes on a plate, split open and add 1/4 c. taco beef mixture. Add additional toppings as desired, and enjoy!

Easy Hamburger Mexican Tostadas

Meatloaf marries mozzarella for a tasty dish

Meatloaf marries mozzarella for a tasty dish

Ground beef is a staple of quick and easy recipes

Ground beef is a staple of quick and easy recipes

Not Your Mother's Meatloaf

Does the idea of meatloaf sound bland and boring? Well, its time to change your perception! This recipe is certainly not your mother's meatloaf. The combination of ground beef and sausage, pasta sauce and mozzerella cheese leads to one delicious, spicy dish. You can prep this dish in less than 20 minutes and then enjoy the baking time catching up with your family. And the atmosphere is so much nicer than inside a fast food restaurant....


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 pound Italian sausage
  • 1 egg
  • 1 c. seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1 T. fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 2 oz. cubed provolone or mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 c. canned pasta sauce (or 1 14 oz. can tomato sauce, seasoned with 1 t. garlic salt, 1 t. oregano and 1 T. Italian seasoning)
  • 2 cloves minced garlic


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. In a large bowl, stir together egg, bread crumbs, pasta sauce, garlic and rosemary
  3. Add beef and sausage to the mixture and work through with hands
  4. Press 2/3 of the mixture into a loaf pan, and make a 1/2 inch indentation
  5. Place cheese cubes into the indentation and then cover with remaining meat mixture
  6. Bake for 1 hour, and then let stand for 10 minutes after removing from the oven
  7. If desired, heat an additional 1/4 c. pasta sauce and drizzle over the top with additional grated cheese before serving

Frugal Chef Sloppy Joe's Recipe

Delicious Porcupine Meatballs

Delicious Porcupine Meatballs

Think Outside the Hamburger Helper Box

Its easy to whip up a great tasting, healthy dinner at home wih these Hamburger Helper alternatives. There's no time like today to think outside the box!

With a pound of ground beef and a few pantry staples, your family could be on the way to a delicious meal in no time.

Porcupine Meatballs

Another recipe that originated in my mom's kitchen is this one for Porcupine Meatballs. Fortunately, my kids love this recipe more than I did many years ago. Like any inventive cook, you can replace some ingredients with others to match your favorite tastes.

You might even want to try using ground chicken or turkey instead of ground beef!  Is it Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs at your home tonight?


  • 1/2 lb. ground burger
  • 1/2 c. prepared white rice (minute rice is just perfect, but for a healthier, heartier alternative, go with brown rice)
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 diced green pepper
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 c. water
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2-3 dashes Worchestershire sauce


  1. In a medium bowl, combine with your hands the first 5 ingredients
  2. Shape into 1-1 1/2 inch balls and place into a 9x9 inch baking dish
  3. Cover with foil and refrigerate for 15 minutes, while meatballs are firming up, make sauce with tomato sauce, water, salt & pepper and Worchestershire sauce
  4. Heat oven to 350 degrees
  5. Take meatballs out of the refrigerator and pour combined tomato sauce over the top
  6. Cover with the foil and bake for 40 minutes; remove foil and bake for 10 minutes longer
  7. Remove and enjoy with fresh salad, vegetables and bread

© 2010 Stephanie Marshall


louromano on March 25, 2012:

Nice video sharing. thank-you for the quick dinner ideas.

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on February 18, 2012:

Thanks Stessily! I love that these recipes are easy to make and much lower in sodium than boxed alternatives like hamburger helper. Cheesy meatloaf is indeed a delicious supper. Best, Steph

stessily on February 18, 2012:

Steph, Really scrumptious collection of healthy alternatives to hamburger helper.

Your variation of your mom's hamburger casserole sounds tasty and is put together and done in no time!

I've added mozzarella to meatloaf, so I can attest that "Not your mother's meatloaf" is a delicious recipe.

Well done.

Thanks for sharing.

Kind regards, Stessily

Sterling on July 29, 2010:

For a healthier twist I've used your recipie with ground turkey and ground buffalo. Both are much lower in fat than ground beef.

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on July 13, 2010:

Hi Dolores - I agree! Lower the sodium and sugar content by using your own fresh ingredients rather than those hamburger helper packaged meals. So glad that you enjoyed the hub and hope you try the recipes!

Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on July 12, 2010:

Great ideas for quick, inexpensive meals. My kids used to love Hamburger Helper but one day I just had to say no. HH is so full of salt and sugar that it gagged me. These homemade recipes sound delicious.

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on July 09, 2010:

Hi Dawn, I'm with you. Often times its easy just to prep a dish you already know when you're in a rush. With a few basic ingredients (noodles, hamburger meat, canned tomatoes), you can change it up with different spices and preparations. Hope you enjoy :)

Dawn Michael from THOUSAND OAKS on July 09, 2010:

thank-you for the quick dinner ideas, I cook almost everynight and I get into a rut sometimes. It's nice to get some new ideas that are quick and tastey. I love to hide veges into my dishes so these are perfect to do that with. great hub!

Holle Abee from Georgia on June 27, 2010:

Great ideas - hubby loves this stuff!

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on June 21, 2010:

Hi lorlie6 - pre-packaged foods usually contain a lot of extra sodium and "fillers" you can do without. Good luck to your husband and hope you guys enjoy the hamburger helper alternatives!

Laurel Rogers from Bishop, Ca on June 21, 2010:

Who doesn't need Hamburger Helper alternatives? The sodium has always bothered me, I just can't stand too much salt. And then only last week my hubby found out his high blood pressure is pretty bad, so I'll be bookmarking this hub, stephhicks!


Related Articles