I haven’t eaten Hamburger Helper in years. That’s not because I don’t like it. It’s simply not healthy with all that white pasta, sodium, and unpronounceable ingredients and preservatives. Hamburger Helper is what some people call “trash food.” It’s delicious but bad for you, but sometimes you just want to eat some trash food.
Or in my family’s case, Hamburger Helper is easy to prepare if an impending winter ice storm brings the threat of a power outage. Hamburger Helper is shelf stable, can be made on a gas stove top, requires only water and a little bit of meat, and a family of four can probably eat it all in one meal and not worry about leftovers needing refrigeration. (Thankfully, our power stayed on.)
Aldi carries its own line of imitation Hamburger Helper products, called Cheesy Skillets Dinner Kits. They’re all made with real cheese and make about five 1-cup servings. They come in three varieties or flavors: Chicken and Broccoli, Creamy Beef Stroganoff, and Ultimate Cheeseburger. The dinners come in boxes in the pasta and instant mashed potato section at Aldi.
Reggano Cheesy Skillets Dinner Kit Chicken and Broccoli
This dinner contains orzo pasta with creamy cheese sauce, broccoli and chicken flavored seasoning. Because the pasta is shaped similar to rice, this meal tastes like chicken and rice.
To prepare, brown 1 1b. of raw chicken breast (I used one chicken breast) pieces in a large skillet until done. Stir in 2 1/4 cups of water, seasoning and broccoli mix and uncooked pasta. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 7-10 minutes, stirring often, until pasta is tender and most of the water is absorbed. Remove from heat, add the cheese pouch and stir until blended. The front of the box claims the meal cooks in about 10 minutes, but if you’re using raw chicken, it will take more like 20 minutes.
This meal does have some good ingredients like (small) pieces of dried broccoli, onion and garlic. However, it’s mostly a lot of processed ingredients, sodium, fat and white pasta. My family thought it was decent but not really a standout.
Reggano Cheesy Skillets Dinner Kit Creamy Beef Stroganoff
This dinner contains ribbon pasta with creamy cheese sauce and beef flavored seasoning.
To prepare this, brown 1 pound of ground beef or ground turkey in a large skillet and drain. (I use half a pound of ground turkey because I like this dish to be a little less meaty, so the pasta can stand out.) Stir in 1 cup of water, 1 1/4 cups of milk, the enclosed packet of seasoning mix, and the enclosed bag of pasta. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 8-10 minutes, stirring often, until pasta is tender. Remove from heat. Add the enclosed cheese pouch and stir until blended, then serve. The front of the box claims this meal cooks in about 10 minutes, but that’s just the time to cook the pasta and doesn’t include the time to cook your meat. In reality, it might take about 20 minutes to prepare.
This Creamy Beef Stroganoff dinner kit tastes good, and my family liked it the best of all of the Cheesy Skillets Dinner Kits.
Also of note, the first time I made this meal, I forgot to add the packet of cheese sauce at the end of the cook time. My family ate it and remarked that it tasted okay but was slightly mild. Once I realized my mistake, I had to pick up another box at Aldi and make it properly. My older daughter approved of it the second time around. It probably was much healthier without the cheese sauce, though.
This Creamy Beef Stroganoff Cheesy Skillets Dinner Kit it is loaded with unpronounceable ingredients, sodium, fat, and cholesterol, but it also contains real cheese and dried mushrooms and onions. Honestly, though, it’s not that good for you.
Reggano Cheesy Skillets Dinner Kit Ultimate Cheeseburger
This dinner kit contains elbow pasta with creamy cheese sauce and seasoning.
To prepare this, brown 1 pound of ground beef or ground turkey in a large skillet and drain. (I use half a pound of ground turkey because I like this dish to be a little less meaty, so the pasta can stand out.) Stir in 2 cups of water, the enclosed packet of seasoning mix, and the enclosed bag of pasta. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 11-13 minutes, stirring often, until pasta is tender. Remove from heat. Add the enclosed cheese pouch and stir until blended, then serve. The front of the box claims this meal cooks in about 13 minutes, but that’s just the time to cook the pasta and doesn’t include the time to cook your meat. In reality, it might take about 20 minutes to prepare.
This Ultimate Cheeseburger Cheesy Skillets Dinner Kit tastes good, with a thick and creamy cheese sauce with a light hint of spice. My husband and I both liked it. One kid thought it was okay, and my picky kid didn’t like it.
The ingredients list for this meal does have some hard-to-pronounce ingredients and unhealthy-sounding stuff like corn syrup solids, and it’s loaded with sodium and fat and cholesterol, but it also is made with real cheese; is seasoned with things like dried tomatoes, onions, garlic, paprika and turmeric; and it gets its cheesy color from natural ingredients such as paprika and beta carotene. It’s still not good for you, but it tries to make amends where it can.
Aldi’s Cheesy Skillets Dinner Kits are similar to Hamburger Helper and are terrible for you, but they make quick and easy dinners and can be good if you’re cooking with limited resources during a camping trip or power outage. My family likes the Creamy Beef Stroganoff flavor the best. Recommended as an occasional purchase.