Beef Recipes · Recipes

Better Than Hamburger Helper


There’s no greater dinner failure than resorting to that box of instant-pasta with powdered sauce mix. And yes, I admittedly always keep a couple boxes in the pantry for a desperate emergency dinner …but I’d rather pull my own teeth out than actually use it. Luckily I always have a spare pound of ground beef in the freezer, onions and garlic in the kitchen and the three non-perishable ingredients for this recipe in the pantry. Easy peezy! In fact, I’d say this is less of a recipe and more of a serving suggestion for your favorite jar of spaghetti sauce. It’s satisfying, less processed and tastes pretty darn good (thanks to an addition of fresh onions and garlic). PLUS it takes the same amount if time to make and costs about the same as that powdered crap you have to shake out of a little paper packet. Keep in mind that you can always cut this recipe in half for less servings too, but I need to make enough for six people plus leftovers to feed everyone lunch the next day.



2 boxes whole wheat penne pasta
1 lb ground beef
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 jar spaghetti sauce
1 can small black olives, drained (I used two because my son LOVES olives!)

Special Splurge Ingredients:
1 package (2 links) Linguica, cut into 1/8″ “coin” slices
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms


1. Cook pasta as instructed on box for “El dente”. A little olive oil will help prevent it from boiling over. Drain and set aside (I just leave it in the colander until needed).


If using Special Splurge Ingredients:
Cook the linguisa in the empty pot with a tablespoon of olive oil until the slices are dark and fragrant, then add ground beef to the pot.

2. Cook ground beef until almost all the pink is gone, then add garlic and onion (and mushrooms too, if using the Special Splurge Ingredients) Continue cooking until onion is cooked and beef is browned through. Season with garlic powder, Italian seasoning and pepper, if you like.


3. Add spaghetti sauce to meat mixture and stir to combine. Continue to stir until sauce is hot, then add olives. Continue stirring until olives are heated through, about 2 minutes.


5. You can serve sauce over penne pasta (like in the picture) or mix the penne into the sauce a la “Hamburger Helper”. Either way, I like to sprinkle it with Parmesan! 🙂

6. Eat. Yum!



One thought on “Better Than Hamburger Helper

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