Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Frugal Food: Mac & Chese Meal

Blogbuddy Michelle reminds me of the lean times I've been through, by myself and with a family. It's hard but good things can come from dregs from the pantry. In a comment on that post she reminded me of a meal I made from the lowly boxed mac n' cheese mix. The kids loved it so much they still ask for it sometimes. (They also ask for my homemade macaroni and cheese alot, so I'm not offended that they like it.) This is really just an el cheapo version of the Hamburger Helper dinner.

Frugal Mac & Cheese Meal

a bit of meat - ground beef, kielbasa or similar sausage, ham, or bacon all work well
1 onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
1-2 boxes of mac and cheese
milk, about half of what the box calls for
whatever extras you have that sound good1
whatever spices will complement the other ingredients
salt and pepper to taste

While the water for cooking the macaroni comes to a boil, brown whatever meat you'll be using along with the onion and garlic. Drain the fat from the meat and set both aside. (If you're using beef and it's really lean, you can brown it in a combination of butter and oil.)

Use the fat from the meat in place of the butter called for in the mac and cheese instructions. Add your other ingredients and spices, and mix well.

1 I usually add some vegetables because that's an easy way to get the kids to eat them. Peas, carrots, or corn are the ones my kids like best in this. Just toss them in the water with the macaroni as it cooks, 2-3 minutes if they're fresh or canned, maybe 5 if they're frozen. Olives are good too, just be careful of how salty the final mix will be if you use green ones. Diced canned tomatoes, drained well, and Mexican spices make a tasty variation. Adding some sour cream or plain yogurt is good too. If you have it, extra cheese can be melted in or grated and sprinkled on top. I can't remember all the cheeses we've added to this, but muenster, havarti, or parmesan are ones that are good.

Cheesy pasta is also delicious with some grilled chicken breast and steamed broccoli florets! Yum :) Hugs from Panama...
Oooh, that does sound good, thanks for the idea! Hugs from cold Minnesota!
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