Improved Mac and Cheese Recipe

Dylan Enerson, Reporter

The simple macaroni and cheese that comes in a box is already a perfect side dish and an added sliced hot dog can make an entire meal for a five-year-old, but the old recipe can get boring after eating it for over 18 years. This recipe came from a late night throwing together recipe to use up some leftover ingredients before I made my way to the store the following day. It has since become my staple way of stretching cheap ingredients into a meal that can last for four or more meals depending on what else you have to eat with it. 

1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes 

1 pound ground beef or turkey 

1 box Kraft mac and cheese 

1/2 can (3 oz) tomato paste 

Shredded cheese 

2 tbsp butter 


Start by browning your meat in a large sauté pan then drain the meat and return it to the pan over medium heat. Add the diced tomatoes and tomato puree. Using the empty diced tomato can, add 1.5 cans of water to the pan and mix. Once mixed, add the macaroni noodles and butter to the pan. Bring to a boil then cover and reduce heat to maintain a simmer. Cook this for 10 minutes or until the noodles are cooked, stirring occasionally. Once cooked, stir in the cheese packet from the mac and cheese box along with any additional cheese. I prefer to add shredded Colby-Jack and parmesan cheese. 

This dish is extremely cheap and is easy to reheat for lunch the next day or to take with you to work or class. When I made it the first time, I was worried the tomatoes and cheese would not taste good together, but they complemented each other nicely and made for a dish reminiscent of a noodle-bake albeit in a much simpler recipe. 

My notes on the recipe would be to keep an eye on the dish while it simmers and to make sure that there is enough liquid to keep cooking the noodles. It should maintain a sauce consistency, but the water can evaporate during cooking. If this happens, just mix in another 0.5-1 can of water as needed to ensure a proper finished consistency. Additionally, I recommend adding some spices to the dish with the tomatoes. This dish works well with hotter spices like cayenne pepper and paprika but can also be flavored more akin to a traditional pasta sauce with Italian seasoning, oregano, and the like. 


Dylan Enerson is a Dakota Student General Reporter. He can be reached at [email protected].