Both of my kids LOVE macaroni and cheese and, since our school lunches have to be meat-free, it’s a super-easy lunch to make. However, it just doesn’t make sense to use the kind in the box when I can make it from scratch, which is healthier, much more cost effective, and so much yummier! I love this version, from Brown Eyed Baker, but the basics are the same–make a roux (equal parts butter and flour cooked in a saucepan), add milk until thickened, add cheese, and mix in pasta & bake until golden and bubbly. I like to bake the mac and cheese in muffin tins, freeze them individually, and take one or two out for school lunch.
(image & recipe from Brown Eyed Baker)
1 lb. elbow pasta
½ cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon onion powder
Salt & pepper, to taste
5 cups milk (whole or 2%)
4 cups (16 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
For the Topping:
15 Ritz crackers, crushed
1 tablespoon butter, melted
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Cook the pasta according to the package directions for al dente. Drain and set aside.
In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour, then add the onion powder, salt and pepper. Gradually whisk in the milk. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens and the mixture begins to boil. Add the cheese and stir until the cheese is melted. Add the cooked pasta and stir to coat the pasta.
Pour the mixture into a 9×13-inch baking dish. Mix together the crushed Ritz crackers and the melted butter until all of the crumbs are moistened, and then sprinkle over the top of the pasta mixture.
Bake for 30 minutes, until golden and bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes and serve.