Thursday, December 17, 2009

Pleasing Your Picky Eater and Your Pocketbook

If you have a picky eater, then you probably have one of the 'macaroni and cheese' kids. My middle daughter is one of these...My niece is even worse. To broaden their dietary horizons and ensure that they is getting all the nutrients they need, I have come up with several mac and cheese mix-up recipes, that are not only quite tasty, but are also a great budget saver. They are also a big time saver, as none take longer than 15 minutes to prepare.

I always have a large quantity of generic mac and cheese on's cheaper than name brands and is really not that different. I also stock up on generic or store brand cream of mushroom soup. Again, the flavor is the same, so why pay more? Meats and other flavorings are recipe specific. I buy meats in bulk family packs when possible, as well as buying the largest bags of frozen veggies, or freezing my own when in season. I cook for a large family, so these recipes can be cut in half.

1 pkg Taco seasonings or 2t spice mix (equal parts cayenne, red chili, and paprika)

1/2 c water

1 lb ground beef, browned and drained

2 boxes mac and cheese, prepared

(optional toppings: shredded cheese, sour cream, chives)

Combine browned ground beef, taco seasonings, and water over medium heat. Bring just to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer while you prepare the mac and cheese. Combine beef mixture and mac and cheese. Add optional toppings. Average cost $2.25 (toppings add extra)

(Prepare as above, without taco seasonings, for CheesburgerMac...average cost about $1.80)

2 cans water packed tuna, drained

1 cup frozen corn or peas

1 can cram of mushroom soup

2 boxes mac and cheese

1/2 cup milk

salt, pepper, garlic powder

Boil macaroni. In the last 3 minutes add your corn or peas. Drain. Mix cheese sauce as normal. Place pan on burner over low heat Stir in soup and 1/2 cup of milk, add tuna. Season to taste. Heat until just bubbly. Average cost about $1.50

Macaroni Stoganoff
1 lb ground beef, browned and drained, returned to skillet.

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1/2 cup water

1 cup sour cream

2 boxes mac and cheese


Prepare mac and cheese while you complete the beef mixture. Add soup and water to ground beef in skillet. Stir in well and add sour cream. Season to taste. Heat until just bubbly, reduce heat, and simmer uncovered about 8 min, stirring frequently. Combine with mac and cheese and mix well. Average cost about $2.60.

Other easy mix in ideas: (In our house, these are often last nights left-overs...another easy budget streacher)

Smoked sausage cut in 1/2 inch slices
Chicken breast, cooked and cut up
Thinly sliced, cooked steak strips

I hope these give you some ideas for your picky eater...and a little breathing room for your budget!

For more great Mac and cheese recipes, check out (while I don't generally usually use that brand, they do have some really interesting recipes!)

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