Ditch the Box: Real Mac & Cheese Recipe Guest Post

I can still remember the joy I felt as a kid when my mom would put hot dogs into our boxed mac & cheese. That was fancy. The Blue Box was a big part of my diet as a kid. And why not? My mom says it was a cool new product for her generation of parents. It was cheap. It was easy. We all loved it.

So what’s the problem? There are too many mystery-science ingredients in that box.  Tasty sounding items like sodium tripolyphosphate and sodium phosphate are there to help “retain the cheese’s melting properties.” Simply put, scientists are working too hard.

Why not simplify and do what Don’t Panic Mom, Chelsea Ellingson did: Ditch the box.

Our guest Chelsea Ellingson describes herself as, “a regular old Mom doing regular old things to keep my family healthy and happy.” She has three kids ages almost 6, 4, and 2. After teaching music part time for three years, she is now a happy stay at home mommy and a part time photographer. Check out her photography here.

Over the last year or so our family has made about a million and one small changes to our daily lifestyle to make better choices about the food we consume. Any change like this comes with its challenges, not because it is hard, but simply because it is a change, and change usually just takes some adjusting until it becomes routine, just like before. We chose to make some changes, and after some weight loss from the parents and lot of explaining about bodies and energy and food to the kids, we are all routined and happy again, until we get to a million and two.

So with that in mind, I have a recipe here that is both healthy and convenient (WHEW!). My kids had a real live love affair with boxed macaroni and cheese. It was their absolute favorite food. After looking at the ingredients on the box about every time I made it, I finally said to myself, “I know this stuff is almost completely fake, why am I feeding it to my children?” And with that I threw out the rest. But throwing it out of my children’s hearts would be another matter. So I started making it from scratch and found that it does not take a minute longer to make it with real ingredients than it does with fake ones. Wow! That was an easy switch in my mind, and the boxed stuff officially left our pantries for good. The best part is that my kids actually prefer this kind over the boxed kind. And frankly so do I. This is a kids meal I actually enjoy eating.

Drum roll, please.

Mac & Cheese

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

Mac & Cheese

Scared to ditch your kid's favorite boxed mac & cheese? Try this simply delicious recipe from Chelsea Ellingson that was approved by her formerly-box-loving children.


  • 1/2 box whole wheat elbow macaroni
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 2 heaping tbsp flour
  • 1 1/2 C milk
  • 3/4 C shredded cheddar cheese (or cheese of choice)
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Prepare the elbow macaroni as directed on the box. While the water is boiling, heat a sauce pan on medium heat and melt butter in the pan. When the butter is just melted, mix in the flour until you have a thick, bubbly paste. Immediately pour in about half a cup of milk. Stir until thickened, then continue to add in the milk half a cup at a time, waiting to thicken each time, or until the sauce is at a desired consistency (your basic rue sauce). Add salt and pepper as needed. Dump in the shredded cheese and melt into the sauce. By now your macaroni should be done, drain the macaroni and place back in the pan. Pour the cheese sauce over the noodles and mix well. Serve into bowls and add more shredded cheese on top as desired.


My kids also enjoy this mixed with peas or white or black beans (or both) mixed in to add a little more protein and fiber.

Want to investigate the blue box a little more? I tried to find the ingredients on Kraft.com, but the ingredients list was a little elusive. If you want to read a bit about the ingredients head over to this review at Livestrong.com.

Are you ready to ditch the box? Or have you already? Let us know in a comment below or on the Don’t Panic Mom Facebook Page.