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MAC ‘N’ CHEESE

Mac ‘n’ cheese is a classic family dish, perfect for filling up hungry bellies! It is cheap, tasty and easier than you think to add veg to. We’ve gathered expert tips and come up with small steps you can take to bring your mac ‘n’ cheese from good to great!

Why is mac ‘n’ cheese so great?

Mac ‘n’ cheese is cheap and delicious, and lends itself well to making a big batch for future meals. Kids love it, making it a great recipe to slowly tweak to add a little veg and make just a little better over time.

Mac ‘n’ cheese is a great dish to add veggies too, as the cheese flavour of the dish will often mask the flavour of the veg, encouraging its acceptance.

Mac ‘n’ cheese also keeps well, so you can make it the day before and cover and chill (or freeze) until you are ready to stick it in the oven to heat through and serve, making it a great meal for busy nights.

Use the basic recipe, small tweaks and tips below to take your pasta bakes from good to better!

How are your mac ‘n’ cheese skills?

Getting
started

I’m just starting out.

Next
Level

I’m ready to take it to the next level.

Engaging
Kids

How can I get my kids involved and interested?

Getting Started

Mac ‘n’ cheese is cheap and delicious, and lends itself well to making a big batch for future meals. Kids love it, making it a great recipe to slowly tweak to add a little veg and make just a little better over time.

Here is a simple recipe for mac ‘n’ cheese which you can use as a base and build on over time…

Simple Mac ‘n’ Cheese

Claire Wright

Effort:
Complexity:
Cost:

Ingredients:

Pasta (macaroni or other small pasta shape – allow about 50g per person)

Jar of white sauce

Grated cheese (a small handful per person)

Frozen peas (optional)

Share:

Not made mac ‘n’ cheese before, or not ready to try the next steps? Start here!

Method:

  1. Cook your pasta according to packet instructions, but cook for 1-2 mins less than the packet says. Drain and put it back in the saucepan with the white sauce and cheese (and peas, if using). Heat through until cheese is melted and sauce is hot.

  2. If you want to do a full “pasta bake” mac ‘n’ cheese, you can stir the sauce (and peas, if using) through the cooked pasta in a casserole dish and top with the cheese, then pop into an oven preheated to 190C/gas 5 for 20 mins until golden and bubbling – it adds that lovely golden layer we all love on mac ‘n’ cheese!

There is no need to go any further with this recipe until you are confident with it and feel up for the next step.

  1.  
Engaging Kids

Engaging Kids

Kids who engage regularly with veg through veg-themed activities, such as arts and crafts, sensory experiences, growing and cooking are shown to be more likely to eat the veg they engage with. Encouraging kids to engage and play with veg is the handy first step to them developing a good relationship with veg and life-long healthy eating.

Kids in the kitchen

Kids in the kitchen

The eventual aim, if possible, is to get kids in the kitchen. Don’t worry, this doesn’t have to mean they are with you from start-to-end creating mess and rising stress levels! It can be as simple as giving them one small job (stirring, measuring, pouring, grating, chopping…) ideally involving veg. They can come in to do their little bit, and have fun with you for a few minutes. Getting them involved, making it playful and praising them plenty for their involvement, perhaps even serving it as dinner they “made”, makes it much more likely they will eat the food offered, not to mention teaching them important life skills. Find ideas, safety tips, videos and even a free chart in our Kids in the Kitchen section here.

Activities

Activities

While getting kids to interact with veggies for real and using their senses to explore them is best, encouraging hands off activities like arts & crafts, puzzles & games or at-home science experiments can be a great start, particularly for those who are fussier eaters or struggle with anything too sensory. Use these veg-themed activities as a stepping stone to interacting with the veg themselves. We have loads of crafty downloads here, puzzles here, and quirky science with veg here.

Sensory

Sensory

Once you feel your child is ready to engage a little more, you can show them how to explore the veg you have on hand with their senses, coming up with playful silly descriptions of how a veg smells, feels, looks, sounds and perhaps even tastes. Find ideas, videos and some simple sensory education session ideas to get you started here.

Serving

Serving

The moments before food is offered can be a perfect opportunity for engagement that can help make it more likely a child will eat it! Giving children a sense of ownership in the meal can make a big difference to their feelings going into it and the pride they take in it. You know your child best, but if you aren’t sure where to start, we have some fun and simple ideas for easy roles you can give them in the serving process over here.

NEXT LEVEL

I Want To Improve My Mac ‘n’ Cheese

If you are feeling confident with your favourite mac ‘n’ cheese recipe, but you’re wondering if there are some small tweaks you could make for the better, this is for you.

We’ve outlined some simple stages for continually improving on a basic mac ‘n’ cheese to get you from good to great. Find where you feel your current recipe sits and see if the next step is something you could aim for. You don’t have to go any further, but if you choose to, make sure you are feeling confident with this new stage before you try the next one.

And remember, the MOST important thing is that the family enjoys the meal! These changes and swaps can take as long as is needed if your family isn’t ready for big changes all in one go. Small simple improvements over time may not even be noticed.

Better Sauce

Add veg

Batch cooking

engaging kids

Play is essential!

Think of children helping in the kitchen as a role play game with plenty of fun for maximum effect. One of the best ways to develop a love of veg in kids is to get them involved in the prep of the veg. Not only is cooking an essential life skill for kids to learn, but it’s a great, fun way to get them engaging with healthy foods!

Cooking with kids

Arts & crafts

Games & puzzles

Sensory

Serving

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