A Clean Healthy Meal for the Back to School Time Crunch

Since this meal is quick to put together and can be kept warm or easily reheated, it’s ideal for those nights when you’re all running from one activity to another.

Back to school means back to a hectic family routine for us parents who are shuffling between work, school, and after-school kid activities. Having busy nights doesn’t mean you need to eat less healthy. Planning ahead and having a collection of fast and fulfilling family meals that can be made in less than thirty minutes is important to keep everyone on schedule and performing their best.

Turkey goulash is a culinary riff on one of my childhood favorite comfort foods: American style beef goulash. This is also known as chili mac or American chop suey depending on which part of the country you hail from. It’s also a dish quite similar to the infamous Hamburger Helper (no shame if you had that growing up!) but with infinitely more flavor and nutrition than you can find in a box. The homespun flavors in this goulash are reminiscent of a Hungarian goulash using paprika, onion, and peppers. This modern version of the dish incorporates noodles into the stew with ground turkey rather than slow cooked beef bites. Substituting ground turkey in place of beef allows for a similarly rich flavor while getting quality lean protein. The addition of cheese makes it a true all-American classic.

Since this meal is quick to put together and can be kept warm or easily reheated, it’s ideal for those nights when you’re all running from one activity to another and may not be able to sit down at the table as a family to eat at the same time. My kids ask for this dish regularly, so I include it about every other week in my weekly meal planning during the school year.

Turkey Goulash

Calories 402, Protein 27g, Carbs 48g, Fat 11g

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: 20 min

Serves: 5


  • 1 pound organic ground turkey
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 8 oz noodles (I used a corn and rice blend campanelle, also great with lentil bean pasta.)
  • 1 can (15 oz) organic tomato sauce
  • 1 can (15 oz) organic diced tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1-2 teaspoons Hungarian paprika, to taste (I used a smoked paprika.)
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
  • ¼ teaspoon oregano
  • Sprinkle of ground pepper
  • ½ cup asiago, parmesan, or manchego cheese (optional)

Preparation Instructions:

  1. Prepare a large saucepot with water to cook the noodles and heat it to boiling.
  2. While water is heating, stir ground turkey, onion, and pepper in a large sauté pan and cook until turkey is cooked through.
  3. Add noodles to pot of water once it’s boiling and cook until al dente (not totally soft).
  4. While noodles are cooking, add all remaining ingredients to the turkey and continue simmering on medium heat until noodles are ready.
  5. Drain noodles and return to the saucepot.
  6. Add turkey mixture to the noodles and stir to combine.
  7. Stir in cheese if desired or serve without and add to the tops of individual servings, if desired.

Note: Any leftovers can be refrigerated for the next day.

Kari Lund’s 28 Day Clean Eating Challenge gives you real food, real health, and real results to helps you up your nutrition game. Full plans for every meal of the day, macro counts, calorie counts, and everything you need to turn clean eating and meal planning into a habit. The lessons you learn in doing this challenge will stick with you for life.