Anyone that knows me knows that I’m not the cook in the family. Actually, anyone that attended my wedding heard the priest tell the story of me burning the grilled cheese. My kids even joke that when the smoke detector is going off, mom must be making dinner instead of dad. Saddest joke is when we invite my folks over for dinner, my mom confirms that DH is cooking before she confirms whether they plan to eat with us.

Despite the fact that I’m the resident sous chef, I cannot seem to turn down cooking related blog reviews. Why? Because deep down, I love cooking. Successful dishes – and the joy they bring the family – make cooking worth all the work. Hamburger Helper isn’t anything fancy but has always been a staple in our pantry because it is easy, fast, inexpensive and something the whole family enjoys. With this latest healthier approach to eating, we’re having to rethink things.  Figuring out how to incorporate old stand-by favorites like Hamburger Helper into our new menu has been interesting. We get our beef direct from the farm – yay for living in Iowa and knowing real farmers – so we always have a freezer stocked with beef.

More often than not, I usually make the side dish, salad, fruit and drinks.  Nothing to burn there.  hehe  Since we started eating healthier, all those etceteras like the salad and fruit are all the more important.  We used to exclude them but not intentionally.  Just didn’t make adding them in a priority, that’s all.  We’ve discovered that we can make a meal with Hamburger Helper and keep it to 400 calories and be full when we’re done. When you follow recommended serving sizes, it’s amazing how on-target you can be for calories.

We know we don’t want to give up foods that we love nor do we want to be stuck with a long list of meals that take forever to prepare.  Mixing up the menu while keeping it healthy is key.  We still enjoy McDonald’s and Wendy’s. Maggie Moo’s and Whiteys.  We’ll indulge in chips or cake or whatever when we choose.  Because we’ve realized that giving up things we love will not make us happy.  Learning to eat those things in moderation will.

I have enjoyed this process of learning about different foods, how our body reacts to various foods, figuring out how to incorporate our favorites into our menu and of course, trying new foods!

If Hamburger Helper is a regular on your menu, be sure to print out a coupon before you restock.

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