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Quick Macaroni and Cheese


Last week my daughter Erica babysat my sister’s kids.  My sister left a box of macaroni and cheese for Erica to make for her kids.  As Erica was making it, she said to me, “Mom! You’ve got to come see this!  Look at how orange this macaroni is!

Laughing about the incident, I texted my sister about Erica’s discovery.  My sister writes back, “Haven’t you ever made REAL macaroni and cheese before?”  And so we had the debate about which macaroni and cheese was the REAL macaroni and cheese!

I maintain that REAL macaroni and cheese is simply, macaroni noodles with REAL cheese- rather than macaroni with cheese in a powdered form with artificial yellow dye added to it.  The thing is, I don’t understand the need to purchase a box of macaroni and cheese, when our version takes exactly the same amount of time to prepare!  I can imagine the discussion around the product development.  “Do you really think someone is going to buy a product where all we do is measure out the noodles for them, and then include something that tastes like cheese?”  Well guess what!  People do. lol.

So, if we could compare boxed macaroni with ‘real macaroni’.

Compare real macaroni and cheese with boxed- Super Healthy Kids


We consider that it takes the same amount of time to make either, because all we do instead of pour in the packet of fake cheese, we shred real cheese at that step.  Really, it doesn’t take any more time  to do the latter, and we have been making it that way for as long as my kids can remember.  Although we haven’t perfected the video making, I filmed Erica putting together both macaroni dishes.  Then, TJ was our tester, and he preferred the real macaroni over the fake macaroni.

Then, to go a step further and make it more healthy, we add veggies!

The yellow color in cheddar cheeses is made from Annatto (a natural color extracted from plants). I do believe, even if you haven’t decided to remove artificial dye’s from your kids diet, a very important reason to avoid the packaged variety is in the sodium!  Excess sodium is very damaging to fragile arteries, and including all the sodium you need for two days in one meal is not necessary!

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3.8 from 11 votes

Quick Macaroni and Cheese

Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time35 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 529kcal


Serve With

  • 4 medium peach


  • Preheat oven to 400° F.
  • Cook noodles according to package directions.
  • While pasta cooks, cut broccoli into smaller florets and place in a baking dish. Toss with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt, pepper, and bread crumbs. Bake for 20 minutes.
  • Drain pasta and return to warm pot. Add butter, cheeses, and milk; stir until melted and well combined.
  • Serve macaroni with broccoli and sliced peaches on the side.


Calories: 529kcal | Carbohydrates: 71g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 33mg | Sodium: 438mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 17g
Keyword : macaroni and cheese, pasta, quick, vegetarian


So, check out our amateur video below and then try it yourself for lunch today!

Natalie Monson

I'm a registered dietitian, mom of 4, avid lover of food and strong promoter of healthy habits. Here you will find lots of delicious recipes full of fruits and veggies, tips for getting your kids to eat better and become intuitive eaters and lots of resources for feeding your family.

Learn More about Natalie
3.82 from 11 votes (5 ratings without comment)

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I love how she says “4 Tablespoons of butter,” which is what the box says, but only adds 4teaspoons because really, who would add a half a stick of butter to that amount of noodles? Thanks for the laughing cow idea, I will try it today and I bet it comes out nice and creamy!

We love homemade “real” Mac and cheese. The trick to making it smooth and creamy is a little light sour cream, though Greek yogurt would probably work, too. We just cook the noodles, add milk, a TEENY bit of butter, and the cheese. Stir till the cheese starts to melt, then add in a heaping spoonful of sour cream. Season as desired. Smooth, creamy, cheesy, and better than boxed!

I add an egg, milk and a sprinkle of dry mustard powder. My kids love it. they think the box stuff is gross. If I’m feeling creative (and $ flush $), I add a little gruyere or other fancy cheeses, but mostly it’s mix of mild & sharp cheddar

Ya cracks them in raw was you stir in the cheese over the burner and they cook like scrambled eggs. A trick of a friends who’s mom used it on her as a child:)

just in case this was not on purpose, did you know that after the mac and cheese video it continues on with lots of your home videos. They are super cute and i could watch for hours but thought it would be not great if you got them there on accident

When I was teaching PreK, we did “special lunches” for the kids, and Kraft Mac ‘n Cheese was always a hit (because that’s what they were used to). One time a parent bought fancy mac and cheese from a nice restaurant for their kid’s birthday, and let’s just say that the teachers ended up eating a lot of the leftover. I’m not surprised that restaurants can charge $5 for making you the boxed stuff. We prefer real food at our house. :p

LOL!! Thanks Renee- my sister had to help me, I had accidently selected “playlist” rather than just that video. It’s fixed now!

Any chance that makes it more orange like the box? That would help me as I think the color change will be the downfall at my house, not the flavor. Thanks!

I don’t like yellow cheeses never have and my fiance liked the box stuff because of it in his words being slightly sweet…. well I make it with plain greek yogurt and a mashed sweet potato that I bake it makes it orange and gives it a bit of sweet.

Fancy cheeses or not…much healthier than the boxed stuff. My son loooooves it with a side of broccoli.

I add a little cream and a beaten egg instead of milk or yogurt, comes out silky smooth!! Pinch of dry mustard and chili powder as well..Delish!!

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Quick question: in your video of your daughter making mac n cheese she used a small glass jar for the milk she used. I have some of these I use for over night oats. I absolutely love them and they are perfect. Well with kiddos we have ‘lost’ many…. Do you know what they are called or where to purchase? I can’t find anywhere! Thanks in advance.

Crystall- I actually don’t know where we got that, and I haven’t seen them around. I almost think it might have been an old jam jar that we washed out and reuse, but I honestly have no clue! If I figure it out, I’ll let you know!

The macaroni and cheese that I make is really orange, what gives it the color is the purée of carrots and sweet potatoes that I add. My kids love it.

4 stars
Good flavor and very easy. The texture wasn’t especially creamy which the kids noticed but perhaps it can be tweaked.

3 stars
Not very creamy, I added mustard, Worchester sauce, garlic powered, velveta, salt and pepper-and it was okay. I would leave the bread crumbs out of the broccoli too. It really didn’t do anything for it.

5 stars
I used 2 wedges of the laughing cow cheese plus I used sharp cheddar and it turned out really good. I used the excess bread crumbs from the broccoli pan and sprinkled it on the Mac and cheese. So good!

5 stars
Very creamy and good. Don’t skip the laughing cow cheese or the cheddar won’t melt and distribute properly (I forgot it at first wondered what I did wrong and then added it later and it all became creamy and melted the way it was supposed to after I microwaved it) ?Made this with gluten free elbow pasta and it was yummy!

1 star
This recipe had no taste. I put twice the amount of cheese (both types in) and it still didn’t help. 🙁