So you've gotten a food pantry distribution and now you need a good recipe for a full meal with some of the items you've received? Hamburger macaroni casserole is a great choice. It's got grains, proteins and vegetables in one dish. If you top it with a little cheese, you even get some dairy too. It's also a very versatile dish that can be adapted based on what you have.
I adapted this from a recipe in my favorite cookbook, Mennonite Country Style Recipes by Esther Shank. My college roommate gave me an autographed copy of this book as a wedding gift because I went to school just a few miles from where the author lives and where many of these recipes originated. Almost 20 years later when I want to know how to make something or need meal ideas, I frequently turn to this book first.
On to the recipe. I'm going to do something a little bit different with this recipe. I'm going to give you ingredients and options as I go along. At the end of the post, I'll give you the recipe in full so you can print it.
1 pound of hamburger: This may be the only thing you have to buy for your meal. If you can't purchase it and didn't get ground beef in your distribution, canned chicken would work okay here.
1/3 cup onion, chopped and 1/3 cup green bell pepper, chopped: Totally optional. I've made this with and without the onion and peppers. I've made it with one and not the other. If you don't have either and do have some onion powder, that would work too.
1 can mixed vegetables (like Veg-all), drained: A can of carrots and peas, half a can of peas and half a can of peas and corn, or a can of green beans can all be subbed out here. In the pictures here I've used half a can of peas and half a can of corn. The purplish flecks are red onion.
1 can diced tomatoes: Any kind of tomatoes works. I especially like the fire roasted tomatoes, but petite diced, crushed, whole (and cut up by hand), and stewed all work. You could probably even use Rotel if that's what you have.
1 8 ounce can of tomato sauce: This is optional. I add it if I have it because I like the casserole to be a bit "saucier" than it comes out without it. You could also use a couple ounces of tomato juice.
salt and pepper to taste, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce: While I do really like the flavor the Worcestershire sauce gives it, you could go without. If you use Rotel, I probably wouldn't use it either. If you go without, you might want to add a bit more salt and other herbs like thyme, oregano or basil if you have it.
8 ounces macaroni noodles: Pretty much any kind of pasta works. I've even cracked open a box of mac and cheese and used the noodles from it, like I did tonight because the cheese sauce had expired.
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese: Again, optional. If you have it, the cheese adds a nice extra layer of flavor. If you don't, it's not essential to the dish. There are a lot of cheeses that would work well. You could even do a little American if that's what you have on hand. Heck, in place of cheese, toast and crush some stale bread and sprinkle that on top.
1 pound ground beef
1/3 cup onion, chopped
1/3 cup green bell pepper, choppped
8 ounces macaroni
1 can mixed vegetables
1 can diced tomatoes
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper
1/2 cup freshly shredded cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Saute ground beef, onions and green peppers in a large skillet over medium heat. Drain. Cook macaroni according to directions. Be sure to cook to just al dente, as it will continue cooking in the oven. Stir tomatoes, sauce, vegetables, Worcestershire sauce and cooked macaroni together and pour into 2 quart casserole dish. Bake for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese and bake 5 minutes more.