Homemade mac and cheese – easy as boxed

Macaroni and cheese comes in two distinct forms: the homemade, out-of-the-oven, crusty with browned cheese stuff the grownups like, and the stovetop, out-of-the-box, electric orange pasta concoction the kids like.

I submit to you a third option. Easy as the boxed stuff, pleasingly orange, and real enough to please the kid inside any grownup. My kids even eat it (I won’t say prefer it, but they’re happy enough).

Cook macaroni (if you can get a hold of the whole wheat kind, so much the better). When done, drain, return to the pot, and add a generous pat of butter. Once the butter melts, sprinkle in a tablespoon or so of flour. Use your fingers to sprinkle in the flour so it doesn’t clump in one spot. Stir well. Add a splash of milk, and then some shredded cheese (cheddar, or a mix of cheddar and jack). Stir till everything’s nicely melted. Add a little more milk if your kids like things saucy.

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  1. says

    If you’re in a hurry, just dump a can of Campbell’s cheddar cheese soup into a pound of macaroni and add a splash of milk to thin it out. Add frozen peas to cool it off. My kids love it.

    Awesome blog, BTW…

  2. says

    That’s great! I’ve taken to making my own sauce, but by the long, classical way of a Bechamel with added cheese. I’d never thought of just adding the butter and flour to the hot pasta. Yay for simplicity!

  3. says

    In general I hate boxed stuff, but I gotta admit the Annie’s Deluxe microwaveable is in frequent use in my house. Not 10 mins like regular boxes–3 minutes!! And it comes in non-orange.

  4. Tuck says

    We cook the macaroni by the box, add
    cheddar and Velveeta type cheese and melt it all together.
    Next we pack it up into those cheep 4 oz sealable containers and freeze them. This makes it very easy to have fresh mac & cheese on demand without having to make it all the time.

  5. Kai Jones says

    Better and you don’t have to drain the noodles is the Consumer Reports recipe.

    Measure 2 cups water and 1 cup noodles into a pan, add a dash of salt. Bring to a boil on high and then continue on high for 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Turn down to medium low and simmer for 7 minutes or until most of the water has boiled away. Add 2 tablespoons butter, 1 cup cheddar cheese, paprika if you want it orange, salt and pepper to taste. You can also add a tablespoon of cream or milk if the sauce isn’t saucy enough.

  6. joshr says

    The Annies Deluxe (particularly the rotini and white cheddar) gets eaten real fast in our house, as well. I’ll sometimes add some shredded cheese as well right after I’ve returned the pasta to the pot.

  7. says

    Give me the cheap Kraft for 50 cents. The trick is adding a slice of American cheese (Kraft would prefer no mixing of brands). Tastes great.


  8. Jill says

    These sound great, but my kids insist on the cheap stuff.I think the awesome power of marketing is just too much for them. They turn their noses up at anything that doesn’t come in a flimsy cardboard box.

  9. says

    My toddler isn’t even old enough to get marketing, and I can’t get him to eat anything but Kraft Easy Mac. We may have ruined him for the much better homemade stuff from the local Italian eateries.

  10. says

    The baker’s catalogue (aka king arthur flour) sells white cheddar cheese powder that makes really good macaroni and cheese, and is just as fast. It’s also good for making popcorn, smartfood style.

  11. regiemino says

    Here’s another way: take about 1 cup uncooked macaroni, 1 cup milk, 1 cup water and put it all in a pot. Simmer until noodles are tender, and just a bit of milkiness remains. You may have to add more water as you go. Stir in a big handful of grated cheese and a squirt of mustard for flavour. Voila!

  12. Michael says

    OK, so boiled pasta (carbs, no protein, no vitamins, no minerals), Cheese (massive bad carbs, little protein, no minerals, very few vitamins), butter (fat), milk (yay, good, high in protin, some vitamins, some essential fats, no minerals)… and you actually think this is healthy eating. It’s junk food, jusdt because you cooked it at home doesn’t change the fact.

    That said, I cook it myself BUT I add some chopped tomato and cucumber..

    Ah well, mac and cheese is a quintesential American meal and I guess if it’s just eaten once or twice a month it’s fine.