Not to brag, but I kind of have a talent of being able to pull dinner out of thin air. The hubby or the kids will tell me there is nothing to eat, but after I look through the pantry, I can have dinner on the table in about 30 minutes.
Even when we “have nothing to eat…”
With a family of 7, we have learned to make our meals stretch. Even if we haven’t been grocery shopping in weeks.
I came up with this recipe one night after the hubby had a long day at work and I had a long day with the kids. Boxed meals and sides have become a staple in our house. Not only are they cheap, but they are quick and easy to make. Especially when you have children screaming at your feet because they are starving.
As a kid, I grew up on boxed meals because that’s what my mom made. My dad was the cook, but he was in the Navy and worked a lot.
This recipe is incredibly easy to make and can easily feed a family of 4-6 with some veggies on the side of course. The nice thing about this recipe is that it is very customizable. You can use a brand name or generic. I purchased everything at Aldi, and it cost about $6 or so (if you factor in the serving cost of the cheese melt).
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First, gather up your ingredients. You need a box of mac and cheese, a box of “hamburger helper,” anything cheesy works really. We generally use the cheeseburger kind but have also used Italian shells and it was just as good. Some cheese melt, and real bacon bits, and your ground chuck (we use ground turkey from Aldi it’s $1.87 per pound).
When I first made this I only had those crunchy, imitation bacon bits on hand, and those worked just as well. I pretty much always have some of these real bacon bits on hand. They are great for adding to pasta, salads, or even scrambled eggs. Or, if you want to get super fancy, you can fry up some bacon and crumble it up.
Next, you want to brown your meat. I used a cast iron pan for this. I wouldn’t necessarily suggest it as the cheese gets pretty stuck on and it can be more difficult to wash off.
Once your meat is browned, add your noodles from both the boxed mac and cheese and hamburger helper. Then add both powdered cheese packets as well.
Stir in your milk and water. About 2 1/2 cups of each. I know this might sound like a lot, but you do have a lot of noodles to absorb the liquid. Cover the pan and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. You want the noodles to be mostly cooked through before you move to the next steps.
When most of the liquid is absorbed, add in about half of the bag of bacon bits, or about an ounce to an ounce and a half of bacon. Stir to combine. If you are using imitation bacon bits, cover the pan again to soften them up a little bit.
Tip: If the noodles have absorbed all the liquid before they have cooked, just add another 1/2 cup of water or 1/2 cup of milk and continue to cook.
Now it’s time to get cheesy! Add about a cup and a half to cheese melt or Velveeta to your pan. This is about 2 1-inch slices that are then cubed. Stir to incorporate and melted.
If your boxed hamburger helper had one of these squishy cheese packets in there, this is the time to add it. If it didn’t that’s ok too. It will still taste good, I promise! You can either stir to combine or just leave all fancy like on top.
Now it’s time to dig in! This is sure to become a family favorite!
What’s your favorite almost hamburger helper recipe?