I always felt hard-done-by because of this -not because it was more economical for a family of six to subsist on bargain basement foodstuffs but because the illusive Kraft Dinner boxes were blue and even with sunglasses on- no amount of staring into the fluorescent pantry caused anything other than yellow to appear. Oh how I longed for those skinny noodles, how I pined for that pasty cheese.
Of course, now I know better. And not just because I can read the ingredients on the label. Once out of my parents house, I experimented with the ‘pasta’ in my early twenties and can honestly attest to the the near-instant gut rot that immediately follows ingestion of the mucilaginous mush. I feel that the experiences have made me wiser…
…So while my modern-day pantry isn’t monochromatic, my kids don’t get Kraft Dinner either. If we go the pasta route it’s usually some kind of homemade sauce (cheese-based of course) with whole wheat noodles (and sometimes they are even homemade). It’s more work (good food always is) but the kids love it and I don’t have to feel guilty about feeding them chemicals I can’t even pronounce. Here is our tried and true recipe for anything but Kraft Dinner.
Put one minced clove of garlic and 3 seeded and diced tomatoes into a small pot and add 1/2 tsp salt and a dash of pepper. Bring to a simmer let it reduce.
Bring 6 c. of salted water to a boil and throw in 2 1/2 c. of whole wheat pasta. It’ll take a while to cook so stir it every now and then and in the meantime-
Melt 3 Tbsp butter in a separate pot. Once melted, quickly add 2 Tbsp flour, stir like nobody’s business then splash in 1 c. milk. Mix until there are no lumps and sprinkle in 1 c. grated cheddar cheese. Stir until the cheese is melted and the mixture gets thick. Remove from heat.
Mix the tomato sauce into the cheese. Drain your noods and then put it all together.
Options: place your noodles in a casserole dish, sprinkle with buttered breadcrumbs and Parmesan and bake at 350F for 20 minutes.
Add chopped basil to your tomato sauce…YUM!
My kids are young enough that so far, they don’t know what they are missing. My only hope is that after they discover the ‘delights of manufactured noddles-and-cheese-product-in-a-box’, they eventually return to their roots and make mac and cheese that’s good for you.