Cooking Outside the Box: No, Not the Blue Box, Please!

I don't know about you, but the favorite cooked food from a box in my home has always been Macaroni and Cheese. It is fast. It is crowd pleasing. It is cheap. It is advertised with catchy jingles! I remember as a college student convincing myself that it was healthy too, if I just left out the butter. Then, as a weight conscious adult, I read the serving size is like 1/4 a cup. I kinda gave up on the stuff after that. But I still served it to my super skinny kids. And they loved it. I missed it too but when I started my education on real food, this was the first one that had me appalled. So, I went on a quest to make a more healthy, delicious alternative.

Many would argue that pasta itself is killing us. There are a lot of wheat haters out there. I can respect that. But it has not ever and does not now cause issues in my home. We all do well with it and I have not felt inspired or compelled by any literature I have read that I need to give it up. So, until I do, we will have pasta on occasion. I will leave it up to my readers to decide which pasta to use. Whole wheat works good for this. You can spend a fortune and buy sprouted, organic stuff. But I personally like Ronzoni Garden Delight. Technically this is still in a box, but if I had to make hand made pasta every time we wanted mac and cheese, we would never have it. Real world here, people!

The scariest thing in Macaroni and Cheese is, of course, the fluorescent orange powder.
First, It contains powdered milk. There are some who claim that when milk is highly processed and turned into a powder, the cholesterol therein oxidizes. Oxidized Cholesterol is thought to be the worst kind of Cholesterol. Heart attack in a box. Not all sources agree on this fact. But whether it is true or not, a Creationist, like myself does not see any resemblance between a powdery substance and the wonderful liquid gold that comes from a real live cow. The farther you take something from it's natural state, the more chance of losing the good stuff. In short, if it doesn't come out of a cow in powdery form, I do not want to consume it in that form. But that's just me. To each, his own.

Next, Yellow 5 and Yellow 6. Where do I find those in the produce section? Oh, I can't. I am not an expert on this subject, but seems to me that kids these day are a little crazy. Every kid has ADD or ADHD or allergies. Could artificial food dyes be the cause of this? I would imagine so. I have read a lot of literature to that effect. It is not worth the risk to me, so I try to avoid it if possible.

I tried a few macaroni and cheese recipes. I will share with you our favorite and spare you the sad details of my other attempts. Even with this recipe, however, the first few times were met with weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth.

                               This is the wrong color.
                                                                  It is too cheesy.
                                                                                           It is too creamy. 

Waaaaaa! Truthfully,  it was not met with smiles in the beginning. It is, you know, real. And the kids were not used to it. I gave a bit of education. That made it easier with the older kids. And eventually they forgot the other option existed.

Creamy Pasta and Cheese

12 oz Box pasta (you choose)
Water to cover the pasta
2 Cups real milk
1 Cup grated cheese (sharp tastes best here, and maybe a bit of swiss)
1/2 Stick butter
1 t Sea Salt
Black pepper to taste
Love. Essential. Do not omit.

Simple! A bit more expensive than the blue box, but infinitely more filling. Cook the pasta in the water for 2/3 the time directed on the box. This will help the pasta start softening and reduce the time you have to spend slaving over a hot stove.  Then drain. Return it to pan and add the milk and butter. It should just be enough to come to the top of the pasta.

Now, you will need to say close by and stir. Milk will scorch if left alone. Bring it back to a boil, then reduce to med-high heat.

The pasta will thicken the milk as it cooks. If it cooks down and is still not tender enough, add another 1/2 cup of milk. Keep stirring!

Once the pasta is cooked to desired tenderness, add the cheese and salt. (Make sure your cheese is not artificially colored. Mine says vegetable dye on it.) Do it slowly and mix it well. If it is too thick and "stringy" add more milk little by little until nice and creamy. Serve with fresh apples and steamed broccoli or asparagus. Comfort food....out of the box. Made with love.

**Money saving tip: It is no secret that real food is more expensive than it's highly processed counterfeit. One way to save money is that when you are going to cook something, do no use the expensive raw milk or butter or honey. They will become pasteurized in the process. Use a less expensive alternative if you can get it cheaper.

It took me 15 min from start to finish. Not bad!

We went to stay with some friends about a year after this and for lunch, I pulled the blue boxes of Mac out of the cupboards and fixed it up for a crowd. My kids looked at me like I was crazy. I thought they might be excited to get back to their roots. Instead, they wouldn't finish it.

                  This is disgusting.
                                                           Not cheesy enough.
                                                                                                      Not creamy enough.
Their complaints were music to my ears!!

Do I have one or two that would still prefer the blue box? Yes. Would I still prefer it?  For the convenience, not for the taste.  It is still a process. But we really do come to like what is before us if that is the only choice. Our taste buds will adapt. It takes patience and time. But it will happen. Creationists know that if you don't eat what's for dinner, you don't eat! Gotta be tough just like great grandma was.

Tune in tomorrow for a recipe out of the bag! Be sure to like me on Facebook or follow on Twitter so you never miss a post! Thanks to all my followers.

This recipe is shared at these great parties! Check them out for some inspiration! Also shared at Meatless Monday


  1. So informative! Thankyou so much for posting this! I think I will be tossing our blue boxes! New follower, found you at Create it Thursday. You can find me at http://unravelingends.blogspot.com/

    1. Thanks! Good luck tossing them. It's not an easy thing to do. There needs to be a support group or something for moms saying no to convenience foods. But they are just so darn convenient!

  2. I had all of this stuff on hand, so I made it with our dinner. It was a hit!! Delicious. Thanks for the recipe.

  3. Thanks so much for sharing this! I never knew any of this about the processed cheese and all that. I can't wait to try your version of stovetop - it really looks yummy!

  4. Thanks for the recipe. Have a great weekend. linda

  5. We go boxless. It's just as easy to whip up mac and cheese using actual cheese, butter and milk. We prefer it. Stopping by from the blog hop. www.pushingonarope.com

  6. I went boxless for the maccies & cheese a while ago. Being just the two of us, the box seemed a little more convenient. Until I heard my old home ec teacher's terse words....any dummy can make a white sauce. It doesn't take a bit more time. I just never applied it to a small batch like this. I don't often have cheddar in the fridge, so I used (ya I know) velveeta. I'll pick up some cheddar and make that switch too.

    Funny,...I had one last blue box on the shelf and decided to use it rather than have it go out of date. The husband half (who used to eat alot of it) didn't like it and was very disappointed.

  7. We make our own mac and cheese, too, though my 7 year old still prefers the boxed version. Oh, well.

    Thanks for linking up at Fabulously Frugal Thursday!

  8. I've never been a fan of the blue box mac and cheese (though it tastes goood) and only use Annie's Organics' mac and cheese anymore. And I do try make my own whenever I get a chance, but i've found that that's hit or miss w/ my kids. I'll definitely have to try your recipe. Sounds yummy! Thanks for sharing! Stopping by from Adornded from Above's linky. Have a great evening! :)

    Christine :)

  9. That looks great! Thank you for sharing this post at the HomeAcre Hope! Look forward to having you back again tomorrow:http://blackfoxhomestead.com/the-homeacre-hop/

  10. I used to like the regular mac and cheese. Then I had the deluxe kind and don't even bother eating the regular one. Not that deluxe is any better for me, but I do eat a lot less because it costs a lot more.

    I do think that the more you eat something the more you like it, but I am a picky eater so its really hard for me...

    1. Maybe you can be brave and try this one. Thanks for stopping by.

  11. We're pasta eaters, too! It doesn't cause any problems for us. Thanks for sharing on Wellness Wednesday!

  12. We make cheesy quinoa now that we are eating real, whole foods! Thanks for sharing at Eco-Kids Tuesday. Hope you stop by again today! http://likemamalikedaughter.blogspot.com/2013/06/eco-kids-tuesday_11.html