Navigating the meat aisle can be a confusing endeavor, especially when faced with the seemingly subtle difference between hamburger and ground beef.

Dear Hamburger Helper, I Need Help

In an attempt to simplify dinner and save a little money, I rediscovered Hamburger Helper. Full disclosure - I was trying to find an easy meal that I could share with my dogs. Anyway, I found myself staring at the meat, reading labels, comparing prices, and I finally picked a random package of ground beef. But wait, if I'm making Hamburger Helper, should I use Hamburger?

hamburger helper
hamburger helper
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What's the actual difference, anyway?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has specific standards for the different types of ground meat, and how they can be labeled.

Fat Content: Both hamburger and ground beef can contain up to 30% fat. However, hamburger enjoys flexibility, allowing additional beef fat to be included to reach that limit. Ground beef, conversely, must rely solely on its inherent fat content, presenting a more "natural" option.

walmart beef
walmart beef
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Additives: Both options can be seasoned, but the story diverges when it comes to other additives. Ground beef adheres to stricter regulations, prohibiting water, phosphates, extenders, and binders. Hamburger, on the other hand, allows for these additions, offering manufacturers greater flexibility but potentially impacting the "pure beef" experience.

So, How Did the Hamburger Helper Turn Out?

Growing up, Hamburger Helper was a bit of a luxury. That sounds silly, but it required extra ingredients like milk. As it turns out, I either remember it tasting differently or I tried a different variety. There are a ton of variations now. I will probably just stick to my blue box mac & cheese or the fancier Velveeta.

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