As a kid, mom and dad didn’t let me eat Mac and Cheese out of the box. Or if they did, it was so infrequent that I don’t remember eating it when I was young.

There’s this really interesting thing that happens when you gain independence, especially with food. You either progress with what you eat, and eat things you’ve never had before, or you regress, and go back to eating things you ate as a child. I sort of landed somewhere between the two, but for what I feel is a different reason than everyone else.
I started to eat new things because I wanted to expand my palate (especially when it comes to food and cooking), but I also ate a lot of things that people ate in their childhoods just so I could experience the comfort.
I really like Mac and Cheese, but I prefer it homemade anyday. I know not all kids in college have an oven to bake Mac and Cheese, so I figured out how to make the box better by adding a couple simple spices and ingredients.
Mac and Cheese and Green Peas
1 Box Mac and Cheese (any brand/flavor works)
(You’ll also need milk and butter if you want to make it according to the box)
1/4 Cup frozen green peas
1/8 Teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (this may seem like a hard ingredient to get, but you can get it for free in packets from most pizza places)
1/4- 1/2 Teaspoon garlic powder (just buy a small bottle, it’s great for a lot of things)
Cook the Macaroni according to the instructions on the box, and in the last minute, add the peas to the water. In the meantime, Mix as much of the cheese sauce that you’d like to use (I use about half of the packet) with the milk, and add in the garlic powder and crushed red pepper flakes. Drain the macaroni when it is cooked through (with the peas) and return to the pot. Melt the butter (as much as you’d like, I do about half of what any box says) with the noodles and peas, and then add the cheese sauce. Let sit for a couple of minutes while the sauce settles. Serve and enjoy!
This isn’t just a great thing for students on a tight budget, it’s also a great way to get your kids to eat vegetables. You can put practically any vegetable in Mac and Cheese, even Spinach would work, and because it’s covered in cheese sauce, your kids are more likely to eat it. And students, if you hate peas, you can use a variety of frozen vegetables, just check your frozen food aisle. I would personally avoid things like carrots and corn (easily found frozen vegetables) because I like the way the green looks, and they don’t have as much nutritional value as green vegetables do.
This is going to be a recurring sub-section of the blog. I figured I’d post some box-altering recipes to help my fellow students out.
Love and Happy Spatulas,