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Cheap And Easy Ghoulash

Updated on August 20, 2012

This is a dish I made up myself when I didn't have a package of Hamburger Helper available and didn't have any tomato sauce or tomato paste. I thought if you could cook the entire pasta dish in one pan with Hamburger Helper why not do it with Ghoulash.

It may seem kind of chintzy to use ketchup, but it actually adds a nice flavor from the sauce that occurs when you add water to it and let it boil down. It's got a slightly sweet taste, instead of the slightly acid taste you can sometimes get when using tomato sauce and tomato paste.

It's very easy to make. You start by frying the onions, then add hamburger to the onions and fry it until it's done. Next you add the pasta, water and ketchup. And that's basically all there is to it and you do it all in one pan.

I usually use elbow macaroni with this recipe, but I had a package of opened package of Penne Rigate and decided to use that in place of the elbow macaroni. That's the beauty of this recipe. You don't have to use elbow macaroni. You can make it with a different type of pasta that, depending on the pasta use, can dress it up a bit. There's Penne Rigate, shells, rigatoni, etc. There's just so many different pastas out these days you can really make a plain dish fancy by using them. However, I don't think spaghetti would work well in this recipe. It's too long to mix well together. I also don't think egg noodles would work well. They just have an entirely different flavor that might not mix well with these ingredients.

This is also a pretty cheap recipe to make. Most of the ingredients are ingredients you have around your house, normally. Most people have a bottle of ketchup in their house or some kind of pasta product and hamburger. It's not like when you make Lasagne. You need three types of cheese: Parmesan, Mozzarella and Ricotta or cottage cheese. Not to mention the special Lasagne noodles. So it's convenient and inexpensive to make.

You can also make this recipe your own. I just put the bare minimum in it. You could add whatever you think might taste good into it. It also doesn't make a huge pot of Ghoulash. It makes enough for one meal. You can also affect the taste of the dish by using your favorite herbs or spices to flavor the meat while it's frying. Garlic salt and pepper are my two favorite spices I like to use to flavor my meat. By adding chili powder to the dish you could make Chili Macaroni instead of Ghoulash.

A great side dish to serve with Cheap and Easy Ghoulash is garlic bread and salad. That way you can make what is an essentially cheap dish to make and dress it up with a couple of side dishes and make it into a nice meal to serve your family..

Cook Time

Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 30 min
Ready in: 40 min
Yields: 4 servings


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cups pasta
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • garlic salt
  • pepper


  1. Cut up an onion and fry it in a frying pan. When it's tender, at 1 pound of ground beef. Season ground beef with garlic salt and pepper or whatever spices you like to flavor your ground beef with.
  2. When the ground beef is cooked, add 2 cups of whatever pasta you have on hand, 4 cups of water and 1 cup of ketchup. Mix together and cook until water boils down and pasta is tender.

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    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 5 years ago from California Gold Country

      Good strategy! I used to use H. Helper-- but when you look at the small amount of product in the box-- and when you look at the long list of chemical ingredients printed on the box-- it makes so much more sense to do it this way.