Dinner in a Bag Recipe
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Dinner in a Bag Recipe

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When it comes to convenience, Darlene Brenden has dinner in the bag. The Salem, Oregon cook measures dry noodles and a mixture of spices into separate plastic bags, then stores them in a paper bag with canned stewed tomatoes. This "pantry kit" gives her family a head start on a hearty meal. "Since I work late occasionally," she says, "they just have to brown ground beef, and soon dinner is simmering."
TOTAL TIME: Prep: 5 min. Cook: 25 min.
MAKES:4 servings
TOTAL TIME: Prep: 5 min. Cook: 25 min.
MAKES: 4 servings


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) stewed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup dried minced onion
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup uncooked elbow macaroni

Nutritional Facts

1 cup: 289 calories, 11g fat (5g saturated fat), 56mg cholesterol, 858mg sodium, 25g carbohydrate (8g sugars, 2g fiber), 24g protein.


  1. In a large skillet, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Add the tomatoes, seasonings and sugar; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in macaroni; cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Uncover; simmer until macaroni is tender and sauce is thickened. Yield: 4 servings.
Originally published as Dinner in a Bag in Quick Cooking September/October 1998, p15

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Medic 716 User ID: 4089259 268363
Reviewed Jun. 24, 2017

"Economical, and easy to make."

gunslinger User ID: 544392 226393
Reviewed May. 16, 2015

"Very tasty, economical easy to make main dish! My family really enjoy it."

Joannemaries User ID: 2470821 219930
Reviewed Feb. 7, 2015

"Love, love, love this recipe. Has been a go to recipe for me for years. Whole family loves it. I added chopped onion and green pepper to ground beef when browning. Then a can of drained mushrooms at the end of cooking time. So good.."

Originaltatie User ID: 1325612 47635
Reviewed Nov. 1, 2014

"Pefect. I double the chili, put real onions and parsley and everyone's loves this very fast supper. Like a chili Homemade Hamburger Helper ! A keeper for fast and economical supper. Thanks!"

SharonWaldrop User ID: 6442620 83059
Reviewed Dec. 28, 2013

"Another recipe my whole family loves and that I have been making for years!"

marieb345 User ID: 6844259 22419
Reviewed Jul. 22, 2013

"This is a great recipe. We doubled the recipe and instead of using stewed tomatoes, we used 3 quarts of tomatoes we canned from our garden and a full box of macaroni. Put some fresh, chopped garden onions on top. This is a keeper"

hs4hmom User ID: 1233016 23930
Reviewed Mar. 16, 2013

"A family favorite and so easy to make!"

stacienbob User ID: 3130162 66597
Reviewed Aug. 26, 2012

"My kids didn't care for this."

butterfly3gayle User ID: 3267063 59878
Reviewed Jul. 31, 2012

"We love this! Have made it now for years and think of it as my own hamburger helper mix. I only do half of the hamburger to stretch my dollar and my own canned tomatoes. I'm like most cooks here I only add part of the salt and add some garlic powder to it."

CDoehrmann User ID: 1822476 17951
Reviewed Apr. 29, 2012

"Wow this was AWESOME!! Will make this again for sure!! I used home canned tomatoes rather then store bought which cuts down on the sodium a lot! I also added a little oregano and garlic salt!! INCREDIBLE!! :)"

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