Mac and cheese variations for the poor person?

United States
March 15, 2008 2:28pm CST
So we're on severe budget mode right now and have a pantry full of macarroni and cheese. The problem is that we're SO TIRED OF MAC AND CHEESE!!!! Do you have any variations on this simple pleasure?
2 people like this
9 responses
@brimia (6584)
• United States
15 Mar 08
You can add any veggies you like. To make it simple add the frozen vegetable mixture (peas, carrots and corn). Bake like a casserole (add meat if you wish). You can add half a package of the hot taco seasoning mix for a macaroni and cheese with a kick. Make a 7 layer dip. Try using hot macaroni and cheese as your base. Then add sliced olives, sliced onions and diced tomatoes on top. Grab some tortilla chips and start dipping. Top with canned chili. Here's a few more ideas: http://www.realsimple.com/realsimple/content/0,21770,1170418,00.html http://www.cooks.com/rec/view/0,1835,150164-233206,00.html
• United States
15 Mar 08
Oh, I'm getting some good ideas. I also have a 5 pound bag of mixed veggies, so I'll have to throw some of those in there. When you bake mac and cheese, how long to you bake it? Do you have to cook it in a pot first like normal, and then put it in the oven? Or does it cook on it's own in the oven?
1 person likes this
@brimia (6584)
• United States
16 Mar 08
generally, you'd boil the macaroni just until al dente then mix everything and put in an oiled casserole dish and bake... around 350 degrees for about 30-40 minutes Here's another bunch of ideas: http://kids.cdkitchen.com/recipes/cat/12/0.shtml
1 person likes this
@jerzgirl (8058)
• Gloucester City, New Jersey
16 Mar 08
You could also add a can of chopped stewed tomatoes or a can of tomato sauce to the cheese sauce and make an entirely different look and taste. I tend to add catsup to mine on my dish whenever I make it. Here in NJ, mac-n-cheese is often served in restaurants with stewed tomatoes. I can't see why they can't be mixed together. Also - since you're on a tight budget, you might look into one of these two food purchasing organizations - ShareFood and Angel Food Ministries. One runs about $19 per order and the other is about $30 per order (can order more, but that's the minimum). Both are non-profit and there is no income requirement to buy through them. Most of the order is some form of meat (usually poultry with other types added in) with fruits and vegetables to balance it out. In both, you get anywhere from 50% to 100% more value than you pay. Check them out and see if they work for you. They also accept food stamps as well as cash and charge/debit cards. You might just be able to have a few things more than just mac-n-cheese.
• United States
16 Mar 08
Both of those food programs look really great! The ShareFood isn't for our area though. The other issue is that we're vegetarian, so they really wouldn't help us out a lot. What a great deal for someone who eats meat though! Thanks for sharing - I'll have to pass the Angel Food one one to friends who could use it!
@Sillychick (3279)
• United States
15 Mar 08
Try adding browned ground beef. It becomes a meal in itself. Or add some veggies like brocoli for a little extra flavor. You could also put it in a casserole dish, sprinkle some bread crumbs on the top or add some tomatoes and broil it for a few minutes to make it more like homemade mac and cheese.
1 person likes this
• United States
15 Mar 08
Ooooh tomatoes with bread crumbs are winning right now!
1 person likes this
• United States
16 Mar 08
Most of my normal add-ins have been mentioned .. though I do not use the box mixes, I use whole wheat pasta, real cheese, and cream cheese in mine. I did find a few sites that might help : www.yelp.com/topic/new-york-mac-and-cheese-add-ins www.seriouseats.com/talk/2007/07/i-add-------to-macaroni-cheese.html ca.answers.yahoo.com/answers2/frontend.php/question?qid=20080205095509AAQv9wt www.frugal-life-and-travel.com/macaroni-and-cheese-meals.html Hope this helps a bit! ~Rachel
• United States
16 Mar 08
ground beef, chili powder, garlic,tomatoe sauce. chili mac
1 person likes this
@luvstochat (6914)
• United States
15 Mar 08
I have made dinner before using a box of macaroni and cheese and cutting up hot dogs in it. You could also buy a can of peas and add a can of peas to it. Not expensive and not bad tasting.
1 person likes this
• United States
15 Mar 08
Try adding mushrooms and/or cut up hotdogs.
1 person likes this
@radairc (98)
• United States
17 Mar 08
My boyfriend and I tend to do what we call "poor man's tuna casserole" with mac and cheese when where in a pinch or in a hurry. You simply make the mac and cheese then add a can of tuna and a can of peas and stir!! Also, growing up, I would make dinner for my father by making mac and cheese and adding hamburger meat, green beans or mixed veggies and some spices for a goulash type dish.
• United States
17 Mar 08
ah just read yer vegetarians.. add cauliflower and broccoli!! chopped artichoke hearts and spinach... or fry the mac and cheese (make mac and cheese patties) with onions and peppers.
• United States
18 Mar 08
Thanks for the ideas! So far I've done a chili-mac with veggie crumbles (like ground beef,) and another time I just threw in some garlic and mixed veggies. My hubbie has been impressed (and relieved,) so I really appreciate the ideas. I also found a recipe for Scalloped Tomatoes, which is pretty much a can of tomatoes with onions, butter, and stale bread. It was actually really good (and inexpensive!)
@pumpkinjam (6113)
• United Kingdom
15 Mar 08
We're often on a tight budget and have a few "emergency" recipes. Whatever you have can be made slightly more interesting with herbs. You could buy whatever veggies you can afford and throw them in. If you have potatoes, you can mix them in too. We're often left with nothing but potatoes and eggs so we make scrambled egg with mushroom and we make potato bakes because we can throw in whatever is around to make it different every time. I would think you could do that with macaroni too.