Instead of setting a New Year’s resolution this year, I’ve decided to choose three words that will define my year and inspire me to be a better person.

My words are: Simple, Grateful and Focus.

The reason I chose these three words is because, even though I have three children and my life is anything BUT “simple”, I still tend to over-complicate things by over-committing, multi-tasking more than I should, and spending time worrying about things that I shouldn’t. I chose these words to remind myself to slow down, focus only on what really matters, commit to only what I have time for (and to what’s most important) and stop cluttering my life with time-consuming but unimportant things like vacuuming my entire house daily (yes—I have to work on that). These three words help me to breathe a sigh of relief, make me want to snuggle with my kids more and stress less about messes. They also remind me to hug my husband when he gets home from work (it only takes a second), instead of handing the baby over and complaining about my day. Can you relate?

When I chose the word “simple”, one of the first things that popped into my mind was feeding my family. As a Dietitian, I’m somewhat particular about the foods that I buy, how I prepare meals and what my kids eat. My high expectations in the nutrition/feeding department however, can easily add unneeded stress to our day. In an attempt to simplify mealtimes, we are planning ahead, buying only the foods that we know we’ll use up by the end of the week (or, trying anyways) and making big batches so that we have leftovers. Although we won’t be eating gourmet every night (which is far from realistic anyway!), nutrition will not be sacrificed, and neither will taste.

This homemade hamburger helper is the perfect example of a simple, nutritious and delicious meal. I doubled the recipe (had two stock pots going!) so that we had lots of leftovers, and everyone devoured it. Serve with veggies and dip or salad to make a balanced supper. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

The Dairy Divas are on Facebook! Visit our Alberta Milk page to stay up to date on dairy, nutrition and more!

Written by a Registered Dietitian. 

One-pot Easy, Healthy Homemade Hamburger Helper
Prep Time
10 minutes
Cook Time
25 minutes
8-10 servings


1.5 lbs (700 g) lean or extra lean ground beef (you can also use ground chicken or turkey if you prefer)
4 cups (500 g) uncooked small pasta noodles (like macaroni)
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 (large) red pepper, diced
3 (large) mushrooms, diced
1 cup (250 ml) frozen peas
2 cloves (large) garlic, minced
1/2-1 tsp (2-5 ml) pepper
1.5 cups (375 ml) milk
1.5 cups (375 ml) no salt added or low sodium chicken broth
1- 680 ml jar tomato pasta sauce
2 tsp (10 ml) Italian seasoning
1 tsp (5 ml) red pepper flakes, approximately
3 cups (750 ml) cheddar cheese, shredded


  1. Add beef to a large stock pot and cook over medium-high heat until browned. Drain excess fat. Return to stove and add onion, garlic, red pepper, mushrooms, red pepper flakes, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper, and cook until vegetables are tender-crisp and bright in colour.
  2. Add milk, broth, tomato sauce and uncooked macaroni to pot and mix well. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and cook for about 15-18 minutes, stirring often. You may need to add more liquid during the cooking process depending on the type of pasta you’re using. You want the noodles to be el dente and the liquid to thicken.
  3. Remove from heat. Add frozen peas and about 1 cup of the grated cheese and stir until melted. Transfer the hamburger helper to a casserole dish and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.
  4. Place the casserole in a preheated oven (375 degrees) for 5-10 minutes until cheese is golden brown on top. Allow cooling time before serving.