As a kid, I remember eating things like Hamburger Helper (or Tuna Helper *cringe*) on the regular. This MSG, hydrolyzed corn protein and enriched wheat with folic acid infused one-pan meal was a staple of the 80s and my friends and I would bemoan its existence over equally processed school lunches (obviously, I had not been taught my own food rules to cure picky eating at that point!)
A Real Food One-Pan Meal
Hamburger helper certainly did have one thing right… the convenience!
In fact, I’m sure its low price and extremely simple preparation were some of the major reasons it gained so much popularity (the taste… not so much!).
With a few simple and equally inexpensive real-food ingredients, you can replace the pre-packaged one-pan meals with more nutritious options. Certainly, you could use organic or gluten-free noodles in place of the regular noodles in these types of one-pan meals, but this recipe is perfect for using various types of vegetable noodles.
I often use our spiralizer to slice zucchini into thin noodles for this recipe (if you don’t have a spirazlier- get one! they do magic tricks in getting kids to love making and eating vegetables!)
Another benefit to this recipe is how easy and fast it is to prepare. My kids love that they can help prepare this recipe (and the older kids can now prepare this all on their own without my help!)
This simple stir fry is a regular in our meal planning rotation and is also my go-to for busy nights when I don’t have anything else ready to cook. Zucchini is our favorite vegetable in this recipe but you can use any vegetable you have on hand: carrots, yellow squash, kohlrabi or sweet potatoes as the noodles instead.
- 1 pound of ground beef
- 2 onions
- 3-4 medium zucchini
- ¼ cup of butter
- 1-2 teaspoons minced garlic or garlic powder
- Salt, pepper, onion powder, basil, oregano and thyme to taste (I used about 1 tsp of each)
- Crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
- toppings: Pasta sauce, parmesan cheese, grated cheese (all optional)
- Heat skillet over medium high heat. Melt butter in pan.
- Thinly slice onions and add to skillet.
- Using a spiralizer, peeler or food processor that can julienne, slice the zucchini into "noodles" and add to skillet.
- Cook until starting to soften.
- Remove from the skillet and place in a baking dish.
- Put under the broiler and cook about 7-10 minutes until desired crispness.
- While cooking, brown the ground beef and add spices of choice.
- Add onions/zucchini back to the skillet, mix and serve.
- Top with any desired toppings and enjoy!
What is your favorite stir fry recipe? Share below!