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Hamburger Helper: Vegan Style!

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5 Minutes to Lunch

With the help of a (vegan) hamburger. And a butternut-squash trick.

vegan bowl

Katie, how can it be “5 minutes” if one of the ingredients is butternut squash? Those things take ages to cook! True, but here’s what I like to do: Buy the BIGGEST butternut squash you can find.

Roast the whole thing (see: How to Roast a Butternut Squash… sorry in advance for the creepy photo! :-?). Then portion it out into single-serving amounts and freeze whatever you don’t plan to use within a few days. Unlike spaghetti squash, butternut defrosts quite well.

burger bowl

Hamburger Veggie Burger Helper

  • Steamed Broccoli (or other veg)
  • Roasted Winter Squash (or sweet potato)
  • Burger, crumbled (I highly recommend these burgers)
  • Optional: Nutritional Yeast for topping

Mix everything together, season with salt, and sprinkle nutritional yeast on top, if desired. Try to mix/chop everything well enough that you get a little of each component in every bite :). (You can even pulse with a hand blender a few times if you wish!)

For a gourmet twist, try drizzling with coconut milk immediately prior to eating.

bowl meal

Seriously, why bother with complicated recipes that take hours when simple things can taste just as good?  My dessert was just as easy and quick-to-prepare as lunch.

peanut butter balls

Three-Ingredient Peanut Butter Balls

Life is too short to spend it slaving over a stove (unless, of course, you enjoy the cooking process. I just don’t happen to be one of those people.)


Question of the Day:
Do you ever freeze leftovers?

I love to cook in bulk and freeze extra servings of things. Cook once, eat twice… or three or four times! Soup is a favorite meal to freeze. But I like freezing foods like pancakes as well. The only problem is that my freezer can get pretty crowded! 😕

Other question: Have you ever eaten Hamburger Helper?

For the Stevia Giveaway Winners: click here.
Artisana winner: bottom of this post.

Katie is the baker, photographer, and author of the popular blog Chocolate-Covered Katie. Her favorite food is chocolate, and she believes in eating a balanced diet that includes dessert every single day. More about Katie—> 
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  1. I sometimes freeze leftovers. More often I eat them for lunch. :-) Sadly, I have had hamburger helper. It was my husband’s favorite thing to cook when I first met him. Gross.

  2. wooay!! great recipe for my vegan start!! in case you haven’t read my recent post… I am going VEGAN GIRL
    so excited!!! 😀

    1. Alyson says:

      That is so exciting! 😀 Just thought I’d throw that out there!

    2. I did see that! I’m so excited for you!! Would I embarrass you with a shout-out on twitter? 😉

      1. not at all!! SPREAD THE word.. WOO!!

  3. Camille says:

    This looks super tasty!
    I always freeze desserts and breads, otherwise I am just picking at them all day :)

  4. I’ve never had a hamburger helper, but it sounds nasty. I will have your instead, thank you!

    I don’t usually freeze leftovers because everybody eats it up so fast!!! I just use da fridge!

  5. This is genius!! And yes, I freeze leftovers. And then promptly forget they are there.

  6. I love this!! Your recipes always look delish and have such short ingredients lists, which I LOVE!! 😀

  7. I love your recipes Katie! The “hamburger” helper and peanut butter balls both look amazing.

    PS. I made your tortilla soup…it was indeed the easiest EVER and SOOO GOOD!!! I’ll be making it often, thanks! :)

    1. Oh Lauren, I’m so excited you tried it!!

  8. That looks fabulous! I’ve never tried hamburger helper, but I think I will keep it that way and make you veggie burger helper instead! :)
    I’m sad to hear that spaghetti squash doesn’t freeze well – I didn’t know and stuck some in the freezer a few months ago. Oh well, I guess it’s a good excuse to by another squash 😉
    I freeze leftovers all the time. They make for great quick and healthy weekday meals!

    1. Maybe you’ll have better luck! Mine got all watery and GROSS :-?.

  9. Lindsey in CO says:

    I recently discovered butternut squash and I could think was – where has THAT been all my life? Wow – so yummy :)

    My daughter has a snow day today (it is -25 here) and we are going to make your single lady cupcakes and peanut butter balls. Considering baking a peanut butter ball INSIDE the cupcake… :)

    On a tech note, I think you linked to the wrong butternut squash recipe as the one shown doesn’t give the details of roasting.

    1. Ugh! Thanks for letting me know. You’re right; it was the wrong link :(. I fixed it.

      Let me know how the cookies turn out! And also, stay warm! It’s “feels like -2” here, and that’s more than cold enough for me!

  10. Gen says:

    mmmmm that looks yummy!!!!

  11. Jenny says:

    I would definitely freeze my leftovers more often… if only I could stop buying frozen fruit and veggies and stuffing my freezer with all of it! My freezer never seems to have any space at all, haha. (Frozen veggies and fruit, though… they’re essential to quick meal prep! So I love ’em, and it makes me happy to hear all the research that has proven frozen produce to be nutritionally on par with fresh produce – at least most of the time, and sometimes it’s supposedly even better~)

    I agree with you though! Simply delicious ingredients all thrown together makes for a delicious meal, so why spend hours slaving over one meal when you can be eating something awesome in a couple of minutes…? Though, admittedly, I love cooking and spending time in the kitchen. Quick recipes are great too though – and your meals always look fantastic and only take a few minutes!

    May as well for once actually say: Thanks for all the recipes thus far! 😀 I didn’t know you could freeze pancakes… Definitely keeping that in mind, haha.

    1. Oh yes yes! You can definitely freeze pancakes. I hate how so many bowls/pans/utensils are needed for pancake-making, so I’ll make up like 5 batches and only have to do one set of dishes ;).

      1. Jenny says:

        Such a fantastic idea! And sometimes when I’m honestly craving pancakes, I don’t feel like going through all the hassle to make them… It’s simple but genius – freeze ’em so you can eat them when you want!

        You’re full of good ideas. :) Thanks for always sharing them!

  12. I often freezer leftovers when I cook meals that have more than one serving. It is great to have meals that just need to be defrosted and heated up. :)

  13. I am so craving broccoli right now and this looks great, I never think to crumble burgers and make things like this…

  14. This looks great! I had hamburger helpers as a kid :)

  15. I hate Hamburger Helper, but I feel like I would love this! I always freeze leftovers. They make easy meals on busy nights! Everything looks delicious!

  16. Girl, uh. greed. Even though I love preparing yummylicious food, I often finding myself cooking in bulk and throwing the same things together all the time! It’s repetitive, but delicious and simple:) It will be especially helpful in college next year!

  17. i have indeed eaten hamburger helper but it’s been about 15 years haha. it’s difficult for me to find a veggie burger i like. i usually go with something mushroom burger-esque if i’m not eating bison burgers (my fave).

  18. I’ve never had hamburger helper, but I’m sure this would be way better!

  19. I’ve never had hamburger helper (doesn’t sound very appealing), but I recently made the tempeh helper recipe from the Appetite for Reduction cookbook. Your recipe looks even easier!

    1. Ooh tempeh helper? I might have to check out that book!

  20. Alyssa says:

    I usually refrigerate my leftovers and eat them in a new form a few days later (like quinoa one night, quinoa burgers the next!). I do make HUGE batches of homemade soup and freeze that in portions though :-)

  21. katie says:

    congratulations to catherine!
    katie, where can you buy reasonably priced unsweetened coconut on the internet? no stores around me sell it.
    i didn’t start freezing foods until recently and now i’m alll about it! lol

    1. Sorry, I don’t know :(. I honestly don’t like to shop online because of shipping prices. But maybe Amazon?

  22. Kathleen says:

    Yes, unfortunately, I have eaten Hamburger Helper. But yours looks a lot better than any of those ever did! :)

    1. Hey girl, click the bottom link! *hint hint*

  23. Namaste Gurl says:

    Never eaten hamburger helper and honestly, I NEVER plan to :)
    I usually cook single- lady style, so I never get around to freezing leftovers or large batches of food. It just doesn’t seem as fresh to me, I guess.

  24. Alyson says:

    Mmmmmmm. This looks deeeeelish! 😀 I can’t lie and say that I’ve never had Hamburger Helper… (Unfortunately, I have… :/ ), but I mean, we all have our past and things to get better at. :)
    Also, freezing is my new favorite. Whenever I’m paranoid about food waste, I just toss it in the freezer and pray that it comes back soon. :) At least that way I get to enjoy it longer…?

    1. “Freezing is my favorite” makes me think of Elf. “Make work your new favorite.”
      Have you seen that movie? :)

      1. Alyson says:

        I have indeed!! One of my favorite holiday go-to movies! Sooo funny! :) I want to watch it now!! Hahahaha. Thanks a bunch! 😉 “He’s not the real Santa!!!”

        1. You smell like beef and cheese…

          1. Alyson says:

            “You sit on a throne of lies!” Hahahaha. Goodness, we’re silly! Instead of doing philosophy I’m sitting and quoting ELF. 😀 Productivity…? What’s that?!

  25. I have had hamburger helper years ago when I was a kid! It tasted good at the time :) I would definitely just make a healthier version of it now myself.

    And I dont really freeze leftovers but I do freeze all bread and meat products so that they dont go to waste!

  26. I think I’ve eaten Hamburger Helper once in my life when I was younger. I was never into red meat even when I did eat meat though.

    I am a HUGE fan of making triple what I need and then freezing the leftovers, especially with things like spaghetti sauce, soups, breads, etc. It saves so much time!

    1. And dishes! I LOATHE doing dishes!!!

      1. Alyson says:

        Ditto for the LOATHING dishes! 😉 Ick!

  27. Char says:

    I LOVE this idea!! As a kid I used to love Hamburger Helper, but this looks waaay better 😀 Costco sells pre-chopped butternut squash in cubes…all I gotta do is cook it for about 10 mins and it’s done! I can’t wat to try this!

  28. Stephanie says:

    Hamburger Helper…when we were little. Stuff makes me gag now. Eewwww.

  29. That looks mighty tasty. I’m a fan of crumbling veggie burgers over all kinds of dishes. As for freezing, I ALWAYS freeze leftovers. Those portioned leftovers make up my daily lunches, and I never have to buy overpriced frozen meals. And yes, I used to eat Hamburger Helper all the time in my vegetarian days. I’d always use veggie burger of course, but I didn’t think twice about cooking from a box back then.

  30. Sarah says:

    the stevia link isnt working.

    1. Wow, I am having trouble with links today! I am so sorry and feel so embarrassed. Thanks for letting me know, Sarah. I fixed the link.

  31. Gina says:

    I never freeze leftovers and I should since I’m cooking for one!

  32. Heather says:

    I LOVE freezing leftovers! It comes in handy when my “cafeteria lady syndrome” comes out! Anytime I break out the crock pot I end up with 6+ servings! I also like to freeze baked goods, but like you, my freezer gets SUPER full! I can never find anything in there without digging for it!

  33. Heather says:

    Oh, and I’ve never had hamburger helper before…just the thought of it makes me wanna gag for some reason! :-/

  34. Cat says:

    Freezing leftovers is a godsend for me! When there are no hungry fiances lurking around I’m always left with extra food, but I get kind of excited about it because then later that week (or month if frozen) it’s like second meal without the effort!

    I need to try those burgers…

  35. Angie says:

    Just had butternut squash today for the first time at whole foods SOOOO DELICIOUS!

  36. That sounds amazing. HH is an old childhood favorite. I will definitely try this out. You should try it with my recipe for my Quinoa Black Bean burger!

    1. Ooh those sound delicious :).


        They are delicious! Give them a try. I promise they are a cinch to make and freeze very well so you won’t have to restock your frozen veggie burger supply for a while. :)

  37. 5 minute dinner and 3 minute dessert! I am sold :)

  38. I love freezing stuff, but am not organised enough to do it very often! I never knew you could freeze B-nut Squash though :)

  39. freezing leftovers and planned leftovers are a busy working mom’s lifeline! if i had to cook from scratch and start over every single meal I think i would die.

    I definitely plan leftovers so when im at work, the family can eat! Otherwise they would be eating tv dinners or pizza every night!


  40. That Vegan Hamburger Helper looks delicious. I hate to admit it, but I still eat Hamburger Helper once in a while, despite my healthy eating journey. It’s so easy and tasty! 😛

  41. My mom used to make homemade Hamburger Helper with real cheese, so I guess that was at least better than the boxed crap! :) Yours looks truly delectable! :)

  42. Looks amazingly delicious- Could soo go for one of those right now!! If only there was a kitchen in my dorm room!! lol

    To answer your question of the day, I like to freeze vegan muffins and cookies

  43. Hollaaaa! I am ALL about freezing leftovers! Now that I live with my boyfriend.. we almost need a second freezer (my leftovers, his meat…ick) I also like to keep frozen fruit and berries on hand for all my green monsters. Needless to say, frozen food rocks.

  44. I do like to freeze leftovers, though I usually just end up refrigerating them and eating them fairly quickly. I like leftovers.

    Yes, I have eaten Hamburger Helper, but it’s been a very long time. I did love Tuna Helper when I was a kid. Your vegan version looks much better and healthier, though!

  45. I always make stir fry bowls with crumbled veggie burgers. :) It’s my favorite way to eat them. As for Hamburger Helper, I never liked the stuff. The glove freaked me out.

  46. Our freezers (TWO of them) are always too full for leftovers! I often wonder what the heck we keep in them. Two freezers!

    I love cooking at my boyfriend’s apartment because he and his roommate eat the meal/leftovers and nothing goes to waste!

    1. LOL we have THREE! One full-sized, and two fridge/freezers. It’s kinda ridiculous, and not exactly environ-friendly. We’re trying to use up all the stuff in one so we can turn it off. 😕

  47. I always make loads and freeze the extras…. but brilliant tip on the butternut! I roast chunks just about every night and it can be a real pain when you haven’t got much time so I’ll definitely try that, thanks :-)

  48. Yes I freeze food that I make ahead of time plus extra desserts 😉

  49. Emily says:

    Your comment on my blog didn’t work but I saw the comment on here so that works too! I’ll let you know how the co-workers like your fudge. But I’m not saying they’re sugar free or vegan. Last time I won the Christmas Eve Cook-Off for my “Chicken” Enchiladas and they were made with seitan and soy cheese. Muahahhaha.

    1. Haha I always tell people AFTER they admit to liking something too :).

  50. Claire says:

    Hey Katie, good topic the other day (artificial sweetener that is … though fudge is pretty darn good too) you’re right, things with fake sweetener do taste fake plus if you’re only having a little sugar why bother changing it for the artificial stuff. Sometime’s I’ll freeze leftovers but I’ll normally be having them the next day so they just go in the fridge, pancakes sounds like a good one to make in bulk and freeze though!

  51. Livvy says:

    This looks so good! I’ve never heard of that type of veggie burger; where do you buy them!? Thanks Katie!

    1. I actually find them at Whole Foods or a little hfs in Texas called Sprouts. They’re in the frozen section.

  52. BroccoliHut says:

    Mmm. I’ve never had veggie burger with butternut squash before, but it sounds enticing.
    As for Hamburger Helper, we had it a couple times when I was a kid–I really liked the cheesey mac!

  53. Disturbed says:

    I don’t freeze things simply because I am usually just making things for myself and usually it doesn’t require cooking. I love cooking and baking for that matter though, so it would never really bother me.

    I actually have had hamburger helper and everything like it before going vegetarian and now of course vegan.

  54. Indian food freezes really well! I almost always make it in bulk and freeze the extra so it can be enjoyed at a later time!

    1. Ohhhh I LLUUUVV Indian food~ and No, I’ve never tried a HAMBURGER HELPER! I’ve always been too scared to try it. 0_0 It just seems so unhealthy and artificial.

  55. I’m always shoving things in the freezer these days. Its really handy when you have a busy weeks and cannot be bothered to cook!

  56. whitney says:

    I love those 3- ingredient balls!


  57. Kathleen says:

    Hey Katie dear! I was wondering if you got my info that I sent you.


    1. I did! Ron says your stevia should ship next week. If you don’t get it in 3 weeks, please please feel free to tell me! :)

      1. Kathleen says:

        Thanks Deary!!! :)


  58. jwoolman says:

    Unlike you foodie snobs :) – I’ve eaten Hamburger Helper more recently and even have some on-sale packs somewhere… They’re generally not vegan (have dairy) but many of them don’t seem to have obvious meat in them (who knows with “natural flavors”, of course). But I’ve always substituted beans or grain/soy based burger bits for the recommended dead cow bits. Beans are really quite good in it (I just add a 15 oz can), no need to buy the veggie granules really. I’m assuming garbanzo beans (mashed) would make a good substitute in their Tuna Helper since they work so well in any tuna salad recipe (like mashed tofu works in egg salad recipes). Sometimes I switch the white pasta in the box with whole grain and save the white pasta for use in bean soups. You might be wondering why bother to get the box with all the substitutions — but sometimes having a basic flavor mix is helpful for us disorganized types who have trouble finding a clean spoon… Or maybe it’s nostalgia for grad school, when Hamburger Helper was a staple. The Helper line routinely goes on sale, even as low as fifty cents a box. Not worth full price, though.

    I also like those Asian noodle/rice boxes/bowls that just take a couple of minutes in the microwave – a 15 oz can of beans (okay, the contents of the can…) fits quite nicely in the Ka-Me boxes on top of their noodles/rice, just adds a minute to the 2-minute microwave time, and stretches a box from 2 meals to 3 plus adds the fiber they generally lack. They freeze well, too, after preparation.

    Whether it’s out of a cheapie box or made from scratch – I routinely freeze portions of such things in small 1 cup or 2 cup pyrex bowls with rubber lids. Then just pop them in the microwave for a few minutes, and instant meal! Frozen veggies often can be added right in the bowl while they’re heating up (same thing when heating up soup, which I also freeze in portions – e.g., half a can). No need to eat the same thing for a week with a big freezer handy!

  59. Joy says:

    I et even my meat living hubster would live this!

  60. LilVeganBunny says:

    CCK have you ever tried Dr. Praegers California Burgers? They’re AMAZING!

    1. I think I might’ve, but it was a long time ago!

  61. Hillary says:

    Holy moly, I had very little expectations for this dish. But I made my sister roast a squash and I put the rest of it together in less then ten minutes. It tastes so hearty and delicious! This is easily a dish I will carry throughout my whole life now. Thank you so much!