Your favorite childhood dinner has undoubtedly turned into your favorite quick and easy (and cheap!) go-to in your college prime. While the original Kraft Mac and Cheese will always hold a place in our hearts, it's time to change it up and expand our horizons with these awesome add-ins.
Perhaps chicken nuggets aren't the classiest option to add to boxed mac and cheese, but why should you deny yourself delicious classic kids' fare? We all love those little dinosaurs in the freezer aisle, and they're actually a great source of protein. In just a short eight minutes, you could have your very own homemade (though somewhat ratchet) chicken parm.
One can never go wrong with bacon, especially if it's added to mac and cheese. Bacon can be microwaved or cooked in the oven very easily, and in almost no time at all. Break it up into little pieces and sprinkle it into your cheesy goodness on the stove. You can't mess up this perfect duo.
As children, this was the devil on our dinner plates. But since we're adults now, we should probably try adult things. Broccoli is surprisingly super good and very easy to cook. Simply cut the stalk into smaller pieces with the "trees" on the end. Microwave them for eight minutes in enough water to cover all of it. Add some salt and pepper and mix it into your gooey, cheesy pasta.
This dark green veggie will do wonders for your classic mac and cheese. Stir the leaves around a hot pan with vegetable oil for five minutes, or until the leaves are limp. Add some salt and stir it into prepared mac and cheese for your new, favorite healthy dinner. Now you're living the life of Popeye and Gweneth Paltrow. Kind of.
Mushrooms are a magical food. If you haven't been putting these in your eggs, your lasagna, or your stir fries, you've been missing out big time. They are incredibly good for you, low in fat, and have great flavor. They cook the same way as spinach and many other vegetables—in a sauce pan on medium heat with a tablespoon of oil. A little salt and pepper go a long way. And now you've created a delicious veggie-spiked pot of your classic fave.
To give your Kraft the pizzazz it's lacking, start by toasting your favorite bread, whether it be cinnamon raisin bread, whole wheat, Asiago cheese bread, or good old white sandwich bread. When it's toasted to almost-burnt-but-not-quite perfection, break it up into tiny pieces and sprinkle it over your mac and cheese. For extra pizzazz, put it in an oven safe dish and let it bake for five minutes on low heat.
This is the one used by your grandmother on Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. It's great in pumpkin pie and Insta-worthy crock pot casseroles. Just add 2 tablespoons per cup of mac and cheese, or more if you prefer. This will give your noodles a more complex and professional taste. As the end all be all of seasonal cooking, you'll definitely want this in your Kraft.
Frank's Red Hot
When in doubt, put some heat on it. Raising the heat can give your mac the kick it needs to make it less boring. Just remember, a little goes a long way, so if you can't handle the spiciness maybe pass on this one.
Garlic can be your best friend, but, you don't want to abuse it. Now, you can take the easy route and use garlic powder, because there's no shame in that. However, if you want to turn your box of Kraft into a five-star dinner I suggest the real thing. Garlic comes in cheap little bulbs in the grocery store and can be used in a variety of other dishes. I also suggest asking Santa for a garlic press because it is so fun and makes your food taste like Italy.
More Cheese (Duh)
There's no such thing as too much cheese, so why not mix and match a bunch of different cheesy flavors in one dish? Upscale Italian restaurants do it all the time, so you definitely should too. Try mozzarella, extra sharp cheddar, a Mexican blend, and/or Parmesan cheese. If you're feeling fancy and adventurous, give Gouda and Brie a chance. You never know what magnificent dynamic duo could be hiding in your fridge until you try.