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Dinner in a Bag Recipe

Dinner in a Bag Recipe

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. YIELD: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


  • 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.

Nutritional Facts

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

Reviews for Dinner in a Bag

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Reviewed May. 16, 2015

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

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.."

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!"

Reviewed Dec. 28, 2013

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

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"

Reviewed Mar. 16, 2013

"A family favorite and so easy to make!"

Reviewed Aug. 26, 2012

"My kids didn't care for this."

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."

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!! :)"

Reviewed Oct. 18, 2011

"the dish was very good- i did have add 3 cups of liquid to bew able to cook the macaroni- my canned stew tomatoes may had not enough liquids to cook the macaroni- i did add alittle more dried onions and i added some oregano to it. it was a hearty meal- i am still eating it -lots of left overs. i truely like that you can put dry ingreadents a a bag to be readsy and throw it all together. sue"

Reviewed Sep. 6, 2011

"I've been making variations on this since it was originally published in the Quick Cooking '99 book. I love it and it's a hit in my house."

Reviewed Dec. 10, 2010

"This is great for a quick meal on a weeknight. Hearty and filling and doesn’t take too long to make."

Reviewed Aug. 12, 2010

"Made this recipe and will make it again. It was of quick and easy. I added a little garlic powder and less salt. Served with a salad it's a perfect meal."

Reviewed May. 21, 2010

"We loved it! But we cut the salt in half."

Reviewed Apr. 1, 2010

"I have been making this dish (I just call it "Chili Mac") over probably 10 years. It's delicious, easy and fast. My only change is I don't add the extra 1 t. salt; I think the stewed tomatoes have enough salt in them anyway."

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