Boxed Mac ‘N’ Cheese Dinner

2015-12-17 12.47.06RECIPE #140, DAY #162

ORIGINAL RECIPE: I’m sure other moms have come up with something like this, but I just made it up one evening*

TIMING: 20 minutes if you’re speedy

DIFFICULTY: Easy, as long as you can chop some veggies

TOOLS: Nothing special, just some pans and utensils

COOK TYPE: Stovetop

HEALTH: You could do better. But if you have kids to feed and they are obsessed with boxed mac ‘n’ cheese, you could do a lot worse.

EXPERIENCE: It was dinnertime. My son was begging for boxed mac ‘n’ cheese. It sounded super easy, but I don’t accept boxed mac ‘n’ cheese as a dinner option. I had defrosted some ground beef without knowing what I would do with it. So, I browned the meat, made the mac ‘n’ cheese, and added some kid-friendly veggies.

Of course, I notified my children ahead of time of the changes.

Then I put it on the table. Everyone snarfed it down and I thought I should immortalize it for those kinds of nights.

NOTES: You could change up the veggies or mess around however you would like, but this recipe worked out real well for both kids and adults. Other options would include carrots, peas, blanched kale, diced tomatoes, chilies, or any other veggies your kids might like, like broccoli or squash (some which will need to be blanched or roasted ahead of time.) The ground meat could be turkey, chicken, pork, chorizo, sausage, or even lamb, or you could use diced meats, especially cured (like ham or pepperoni) . The cheese could be American (like the read kind), Colby, hoop, Gruyere, or other. Beans could be canellini, pinto, navy, or chickpeas. The sour cream could also be changed to yogurt, ricotta, cottage cheese, mascarpone, or cream cheese. You could also vary the flavor of your boxed mac.

I use Annie’s or 365 brands mac ‘n’ cheese.

Not guest food, unless your guest is your little nephew.


  1. In a medium to large sauce pan or soup pot, cook pasta only from 2 boxes mac ‘n’ cheese according to package directions. Drain and set aside. Set aside cheese packets, as well.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium-high heat. Add 1/4 diced onion and 1 diced red bell pepper. Saute until translucent, then move the veggies out to the rim of the pan. Add 1 pound ground beef to the center and cook, breaking up, until completely browned.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine your cheese packet contents with the milk and/or other ingredients required in your package directions. Butter should be melted. Use a whisk to smooth out.
  4. To the browned meat and veggies, add pasta, cheese sauce, 3/4 cup sour cream, 1 can drained black beans, and 3/4 cup frozen corn. Stir until warmed through.
  5. Cover pasta with 1-2 cups grated sharp cheddar, cover, and remove from heat. Leave covered just until cheese melts, then serve while still hot.


Serve topped with chopped herbs which make sense (like for this version, cilantro).

*Recipe changed from the original.


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