Why You Should Never Make Box Macaroni & Cheese Again: A Manifesto

I think there is nothing more evil than a box of macaroni and cheese.

That’s right. I said it. Pure evil.

I think that every time you open your kitchen cupboard, the box of mac and cheese is laughing maniacally and mocking you. Wha ha ha ha. That’s what it says. Wha ha ha ha.  Just like that.

And I’m not just referring to the nuclear-orange colored Kraft Macaroni and Cheese Dinner that we grew up with. Oh no, I’m talking Annie’s Homegrown, too. They are both serpents in beautifully designed packaging.  If the boxes had heads, they would spin around and around, as if possessed by a wicked, pus-spitting, three-headed, gibberish-speaking demon.


Not that I’m exaggerating or anything.

I say this because if you have a box of the mac and cheese sitting in your cabinet and your kid knows it’s there, you could feed them pizza topped with M&M’s and jelly beans every night of the week and they would still turn up their nose and ask for the box. If they know it’s there, a possibility that they might be able to have a potential substitute for whatever you have on the plate, they’ll opt for the box stuff. And unless you are strong – imbued with demon fighting super-powers – you’ll probably cave.

The box messes with your mind. Wha ha ha…

You think, “Okay, so Freddy didn’t eat his broccoli and fish. This sucks. My child might be malnourished. I see him losing weight and brain cells as we speak. Is that a rib sticking out? No, just his finger. Whew. He needs to eat something. I must get food into him. I know… Freddy doesn’t have to eat the fish and broccoli. I’ll whip up some Annie’s organic instead. I mean, how bad can it be?  It’s organic. It’s quick. Oh thank the Lord, he’s eating. God, he’s licking the bowl. Vitamins, minerals. I think his brain cells are rejuvenating. This mac and cheese thing rocks. God, I’m a problem solver. Someone give me a medal. Now, where’s my beer?”

Meanwhile, Freddy is thinking he dodged a bullet because he didn’t have to eat the broccoli. He makes a note to himself to feign hunger pains, or maybe cholera, the next time you make a dinner he doesn’t love. Freddy knows the box is always there waiting for him. And more importantly, he knows you’re weak.

Wha ha ha…

Okay, I’ll stop doing that now.

So, for these reasons, I refuse to have the box mac and cheese in my house. I’m cool if the kids eat it at a friend’s house, but if you bring it over my doorstep, like, because your kid might not eat whatever I’m cooking and you want to make sure they don’t keel over from malnourishment, I’ll make you leave it in the hall closet. Your kid could get the cholera at my house. And don’t’ get me wrong, I’m not one of those Moms who have kids who have never seen the inside of a McDonald’s. Believe me, my scruples are few. I’ll let my kids sit in front of Princess movies until their occipital lobe starts to fall off the back of their heads, but I draw the line at box mac and cheese. Even a floozy has to have a few standards.

And I’d like to bring you into the light, so stay with me as I regale you with facts about the box:

  1. Both Kraft and Annie’s have basically the same ingredients: pasta, cheese, milk and salt. Annie’s has 9 ingredients, Kraft has 20 and most of those are replacing additives lost in processing. The real difference is that Annie’s doesn’t have yellow dyes number 5 and number 6. Annie’s doesn’t have that same bright, attractive, neon cheese color either. So there you go.
  2. In terms of nutrition, they are, surprisingly, equals. They have nearly equal numbers of calories, sodium, protein, fiber but  Annie’s has more than double the saturated fat. And yes, Annie’s is organic and this counts for something, but the “natural” line is not organic, just, um, “natural”, whatever that freakin’ means. You must come to grips with the reality, people – Annie’s is barely more nutritious than it’s day-glo counterpart.
  3. I know I know, You’re reading this and thinking, “Hey Kim, it’s not cassoulet with duck confit or anything but come on, I’m busy and little Freddy needs to eat. The box is quick and easy!” To this I say, “Cooking a cheesy pasta dish from scratch is exactly the same process as using the box.” Really. The same. Here goes: (1) Boil water, (2) put pasta into water, (3) cook pasta, (4) drain pasta, (5) add milk, butter and cheese (6) serve to Freddy. See? The same.

And to prove it, I am including a simple pasta dish here that you can make in lieu of the box. And once you get the hang of it, you can add other ingredients and play with the concept a bit. Just know, that by never introducing the demon box, you are doing yourself a big favor – you are helping your kid be adventurous by eating without a net. 

xxoo YM

Cheesy Pasta with Warm Tomatoes and Basil

Makes 2 to 4 servings

1 1-pound box pasta* (Change it up. Use whatever pasta your family loves)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

A half stick of butter
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced (Use the chopped stuff to keep your time down)
2 handfuls of torn fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan (Use the shredded stuff to save even more time)

Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tomatoes and cook until they burst and release their juices, about 5 minutes. Season with the salt and pepper, then add the garlic. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is done. Drain pasta, but save a cup or so of pasta water and set aside. Put desired amount of pasta in pan with the tomatoes and stir all the goodness together. Add another lump of butter, the basil and add a bit of the reserved pasta water if you need more liquid to coat the pasta. Turn off heat. Add a handful or two of Parmesan. Sprinkle with a bit more basil. Serve to Freddy.

*I cook the whole box of pasta even if I know I won’t use it.  I save the leftover cooked pasta in the fridge in a covered bowl or zip lock bag and use it the next day for lunch. Since the pasta is already cooked, all I need to do is throw it in a sauté pan with my ingredients and I have another fresh pasta dish in minutes.

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  • Granny Gruntz

    TO: Chrismathus *Is that kind of language really necessary? *How very immature!!

  • Granny Gruntz

    TO: John *Is that kind of language really necessary? *How very immature!!

  • Granny Gruntz

    *Granny is going to put in her two cents! 😉 *I was a “working mom”. *Even so, I cooked “from scratch”. *I served “mac ‘n cheese” often! *It was a very inexpensive dish when one had a very limited food budget! *I also served several green and yellow vegetables as side dishes when I had “mac ‘n cheese”. *ALSO – STANDARD RULE AT MY TABLE: it was REQUIRED
    *Am not even sure there was “boxed mac ‘n cheese” back in the 1960s.

    • Boxed mac and cheese is a lot older than the 60s, and processed cheese is even older. They formed their unholy union in 1937 when Kraft introduced “a meal for 4 in 9 minutes,” which was a box containing “the special macaroni and the grated cheese.” It sold for 19 cents, and sales skyrocketed through World War II due to rationing of meat and dairy. A 1939 print advertisement promised lazy parents: “No baking needed!”

  • Sam Kirk

    Eating a bowl of mac and cheese while reading this 🙂

  • Granny Gruntz

    *BACK AGAIN…*NOW that I am in my “dotage”, *AND my “group of troops = (4)” are grown, gone, with families of their own – **GRANNY INDULGES!! 😉 *I ADMIT OPENLY FOR ALL TO SEE – *I NOW resort to “boxed mac ‘n cheese”! 😉 *I tend to “doctor” package/frozen foods to my taste – *AND find that SOMETIMES “cooking from scratch for one” is just NOT worth the effort! 😉 *Betcha there are some others, in their “maturity daze”, who are reading my comments would agree! *NOW that I “mention” it – *I have a “box of mac ‘n cheese” in the cupboard – and just might fix it for my evening meal.
    *AND whatever, if any, is left will put in the freezer for “future” meals. 😉
    Ciao for now, Granny

  • tobii.san

    The Kraft box isn’t the problem here… not even a little bit… caving in is the problem. If you don’t want them eating Kraft for a certain night, then don’t give it to them. If they bitch and moan and you cave in simply because you want them to stop bitching and moaning…. well I think just about any kid would realize ‘oh hey all I have to do is complain and complain until I get what I want because it always works’. By not buying Kraft in order to prevent this issue, all you’ve done is cover up a much deeper problem.

  • Granny Gruntz

    *ONE MORE TIME…back in the olde daze…MY RULE TO MY GROUP OF 4: *You WILL eat at LEAST 3-BITES OF EVERYTHING I HAVE PREPARED AND SERVED ON THE TABLE! *NO IFs, ANDs, OR BUTs…!! *Even IF we had to measure out by the TEASPOONFUL as to how much constituted “3- bites! *”I don’t like it”…did NOT work at MY TABLE! *”When you are grown, YOU can eat whatever you choose” – *”At my table – 3-bites OR go without!!” *AND – NOW – in my Group of 4’s seniority, I have been told ” ‘thank you for exposing me to a wide variety of foods’ ” *AND NOW – in “their majority” IF they do NOT want to eat peas – that is THEIR problem! ‘-) *The question is: “Just who was/is the BOSS?-!!!

  • ninja7869

    mac n cheese is fuckin good m8 my kids be dinin on this shit

    • Granny Gruntz

      Is that kind of language really necessary? *How very immature!!

      • Epiphany

        Oh I’m going to be straight up immature. With or without this psycho granny’s approval. This entire post was such a waste of everyone’s time. Like what some SMART people said, this is YOUR fault as a parent. Typical Liberal bullshit. You suck as a parent and yet it’s Kraft Mac and Cheese’s fault. Someone even had the audacity to say they left it on the stove for TWO days and it was gross to see what it turned into. You are the reason that children are growing up retarded. Not Yellow 6 or Red 40. It’s because they have your genes. Shut the fuck up and grow the fuck up. Stop posting ridiculous garbage. Sign up for community college. It’s not too late for you yet. But so far, you’ve failed at parenting. You’ve failed at owning up to your own shortcomings. And you’ve definitely failed at a decent education.

        • Granny Gruntz

          *I repeat!…Is that kind of language really necessary? **How very immature!! *Epiphany, can you not express yourself without using the “f-word”? *Your ranting sounds like a very angry person! *You, Epiphany, are the ONE posting garbage!! *Is this the language you teach YOUR children to use? *TSK! TSK!! TSK!!! *What a role model YOU must be!?? 😉

    • Carrie

      Relying on foul language makes your comment less meaningful and cliche’.

  • Granny Gruntz

    Granny Gruntz


    an hour ago

    *I repeat!…Is that kind of language really necessary? **How very
    immature!! *Epiphany, can you not express yourself without using the
    “f-word”? *Your ranting sounds like a very angry person! *You, Epiphany,
    are the ONE posting garbage!! *Is this the language you teach YOUR
    children to use? *TSK! TSK!! TSK!!! *What a role model YOU must be!??

  • This article is the very first result you get when you do a Google search for “why is the Kraft dinner cheese sauce pouch always upside down.” I have no idea why that is, and I never did find out the answer to the search, but I did read the article and I have to comment.

    I ate Kraft Dinner all the time as a kid, and I don’t have brain failure, foot cancer or exploding head syndrome. Kraft Dinner is not evil. Kraft Dinner’s orange eyes do not track you as you walk by the packaged dinners section of the grocery store. You might be evil if you feed your kids Kraft Dinner every day.

  • HW developer

    Annie’s is defiitely a serpent in sheeps clothing. They also appear to spend a huge amount on “paid content” ; i.e., paid bloggers making ridiculously adoring remarks about their cheap food products.

  • Art Vandelay

    What in the world are you talking about? For starters, neither as a child nor with children have I experienced any child thinking macaroni and cheese is better than pizza (even a pizza with a topping he doesn’t like). Secondly, one need not be “imbued with demon fighting super-powers” to be a parent who doesn’t pathetically honor a child’s request for some other meal when there is perfectly edible food present. Are you kidding me? If your kid says they want something else, and it’s not because they discovered some food allery of which you’re unaware, say “this is what we are eating for dinner today. If you don’t feel like eating it right now, you may have it later when you’re hungry.”
    This doesn’t need to be difficult until your child is old enough to prepare food alone. As for the whole anti-box thing, surely you realize that is ridiculous? Blaming your soft parenting on a box? Really?? So you want your non-vegetable-eating child to eat broccoli. Try putting it in with the [cooked] box of mac and cheese. Next time try putting it in that pasta recipe you gave. Notice how he picks it out no matter what? Yeah, they just kinda do that for a while. But he will continue to do that unless you stop being a pushover of a parent and just tell him to eat it. Jeez, what kind of parents raised you is beyond me. Maybe you just have significant memory difficulties and forgot how they turned you into a quasi-functioning human being; please forgive my insensitivity if that’s the case. Outside of that, it’s pretty general knowledge: kids, for whatever reason tend not to like vegetables (not pizza…), and you need to be stern and/or creative to get them to eat them. Little to none of that has anything to do with boxed pasta.

  • Art Vandelay

    This is such an amazing comment. I really hope that, even though you posted this two years ago, you will come back to answer my question: have you ever cooked with real food? It all decays SO quickly! I’m certain it’s all a part of Obama’s plan to flood the marketplace with GM food that decays really quickly when left on the stove or countertop, to stimulate demand for crops so the illegals he is bringing in can have more work to do and trickle in their earnings through mandatory Obamacare, the profits of which are all diverted towards increasing the NSA budget. Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh wait. I forgot. Real food actually just does that, GM stuff would be less likely to go bad quickly so they could demand a higher price point at most levels of production, and you are just a confused person that has never cooked much with actual plants and animals. My mistake, sorry!

  • amirul azizol

    I guess it’s fine to eat it in moderation, but I, personally, aren’t going to ever have boxed mac n cheese ever again.

    One time I accidentally left it, covered, on the stove (off), at room temperature, for two days, and it a turned into a dark brown mush, a bacterial monster, basically. I know it has no preservatives blah blah but I’ve never seen anything turn rancid that quickly. The same thing happened when I put it in a sterile container in the fridge, within 2-3 days it was rancid. Genetic modification? Silent inflation? Something’s wrong with this stuff, for sure.

  • amirul azizol

    It’s called a hook, used to attract readers.

    And I don’t see a problem with having a good laugh. There’s a difference between immature, and making a joke.

    And besides, even if you didn’t find it funny, what’s so bad about it? You don’t give a lecture to every joke you don’t laugh at, do you?

  • Eleutherios Lefteri Savvidis

    Mac and Cheese is very bad for you! Δεν ειναι καλο (Greek)!

  • Joy Pasini

    No, you just can’t leave food on your stove for 2 days and think it’s not going to be decayed after that.

    • leavemefree

      Amen, Art & Joy. If it doesn’t go bad after a couple days, *that’s* a better indication of whether something is natural or not. Natural things go bad. Also, wtf is “silent inflation,” in this context?

  • Carrie

    Just found this very interesting post.
    Here’s a different take…preparing a boxed mac & cheese can be nutritious, when served as a side dish with other healthy foods that make up a child’s lunch or dinner plate. The dilemma is when this entire meal is the solo box of mac & cheese.
    Regardless of the brand or clever advertising ploys, this noodlie treat shouldn’t take center stage, as children need to have a lean protein and a cooked vegetable accompaniment that could really make more nutritional sense. Growing children need the extra calories in the right portions and this meal addition allows that without the empty calories of many other products that are touted as “kiddy friendly”. Parents that can stir in peas, carrots, broccoli and/or green beans to the cooking pasta may start the family tradition at an early age.
    I’m not saying serve the box every day but in moderation as part of a larger, more varied menu.

    • JBuddy

      Your kid is not a body builder. He doesnt need you to nutrient partition everything for him LMAO.

      You liberal moms are so hilarious

      • Carrie

        Yes, moms & dads do need to have a say in their child’s food ways!
        This is why children have parents to make choices for them.

        Talk to someone who had parents that had difficulty making wise food decisions…that’s why it’s the sad punch line of a joke in sitcoms!

        Poor nutrition can wreak havoc on a culture for generations, if it isn’t changed.
        We all pay the price for obesity, rotting teeth, health issues and extending family problems as a result of poor nutrition choices.

  • Joey

    I don’t care if it’s unhealthy for me. I love it, and I’ll always make it.

  • Amber Kendrick

    I agree I am still trying to find ways to get through to my 13 year old daughter. I have tried everything i can think of. taking things away doesn’t work, i took all her stuff from her room, except bed and clothes and it didn’t seem to bother her. i took away her allowance to pay for the stuff she broke or stole, she doesn’t care. I put her in therapy, tried using push ups as a punishment she got good at those and doesn’t bother her anymore. gave her more chores, still no change. I’m at a loss.

  • Amber Kendrick

    i’ve tried that method with my daughter it doesnt work, you wanna know why. they dont respect anyones property including their own so they really dont care.

  • Alicia Tynan

    Randomly stumbled across this article a few days ago and decided to make the cheesy pasta with warm tomatoes & basil for lunch today and it was ahhhh-mazing! Thank you, Kim, for sharing this delicious and healthier version of Mac & Cheese.

  • JBuddy

    Nah, you’re just a psycho lol.

    1/2 Stick of butter in your recipe LMAO – so just because its “natural” saturated fat, it’s OK to overload it to the point of 2 days worth in one recipe.

    Don’t quit your day job

  • Azri

    *ROTFL* no..

    a real and true middle class parent will say “this is what i cooked, eat it or starve,”

    it’s that simple.

    my kids were raised with this concept. i NEVER cooked a 2nd meal for a kid in my life. mind you? if they are sick? yeah i adjust the meal plan accordingly but otherwise? SCREW that !! who has the RESOURCES to cater to a kid like that? i never nor did my parents.

    too many people kissing kids asses cause they wanna be their “friend” . be their “friend” when they are an adult till then they NEED A mom n dad who have a backbone and will do what BEST for the kid in the long run . even if that isn’t popular or fun! for Gods sake people GROW A PAIR!! or find your damn backbone!!

    i will say that i took into consideration: 1. what they liked & 2. if it were healthy/made healthier. i didn’t set out and make meals they hated..that’s just twisted torturing bs. they got fed decent home cooked foods that they liked.

    *L* as an experiment once i made my own spaghetti sauce with spices and tomato paste..my kids requested that i NOT buy more jar or can pasta sauce but to make it like that always..so i did..wasn’t that much more work and they ate it like it was chocolate..so… adjustments were made , but 1 meal! no making 2 or 3 different meals. now when they got older and could cook, they could make what they wanted..heck they started cooking for me! *L* good kids…

    another recipe i used to make this stew i loved! taters, cabbage and smoked turkey sausage..(i’m allergic to pork & pork fat) well my son hated cabbage but loved brussel sprouts. so i adjusted and made it with brussel sprouts rather than cabbage ( yeah i know they taste the same)..*shrug* made no difference to me, so then he, my girl and i ate the stew….

    i made mac n cheese from the box, but more often then not, made it from scratch, een made my own noodles once or twice….my kids liked both..*shrug* then too i always doctored up my boxed mac n cheese with extra cheese like SUPER sharp cheddar n no milk, but butter n sour cream..etc..

    my kids actually prefer home cooked food usually mine but they both know how to cook. my son likes things spicy so…he makes spicy dishes..it’s all good!

    my young adult daughter was hanging out with friends n got hungry..homeowner said “there’s the kitchen” so my girl went in and made breaded baked pork chops from scratch and several other sides also from scratch.. her friends were tripping when she told em it was ready.. my girl shrugged & said “my mom taught me how to cook from scratch” and i had ..she was 9 yrs old making 5 course meals from scratch!

    this is our job as a parent to teach them survival skills..not cater to them so damn much.

    silly shit though catering to a kid like that..by making multiple meals. it’s bs. you’d think folks could be smart enough to incorporate what they like with what their kids like for 1 meal prep per meal. *SMH*

    folks making their kids stupid & demanding while making themselves wore out & miserable..yeah good job there.

    MEANING!! if you think outside the box even with something as simple as meal’s, your kids will SEE that !! they will learn how to adjust to situations and not lose their shit when things don’t go as planned..you dig? because you are weak your making your kids future worse..i do not understand how parents can’t see that!!

    *LOL* ok rant over..back to the mac n cheese!

    PS: after reading some of the other responses..i see bunches of you DO think outside the box..even the blue one. 😀 GOOD on y’all!! nice to see that!! cheers!

  • kraft

    Kraft has since stopped using Yellow 5 and 6 in their macaroni and cheese