5 Ways to Make Boxed Mac and Cheese Nutritious for Kids

These are 5 super simple ways to make a more nutritious boxed mac and cheese for your kids or your toddlers who, if they’re anything like my kids,  absolutely love mac and cheese.

My daughter making boxed mac and cheese

I love mac and cheese!

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I remember when my mom discovered boxed mac and cheese.

I mostly remember it because it was usually my job to prepare. The blue box made an appearance whenever a doctor or dentist appointment or some other errand would dominate our afternoons. When she needed something fast to accompany whatever mouth-watering pork chops or steaks she had whipped up for dinner, the little golden noodles were sure to be the choice.

I never minded it; I loved and still love macaroni and cheese! Whether it’s from a cardboard box, a fancy hip restaurant touting “adult” mac and cheese, or a 5-cheese homemade macaroni and cheese, I am excited to eat it.

I have to admit, in my home, macaroni and cheese has become (more times than I should admit) not only a side dish but a full lunch meal. On those extremely hectic days or when I am just feeling uncreative, a box of mac and cheese is all I can come up with. It also doesn’t help that my kids love it just as much as I do.

In order to lessen my guilt of feeding my kids a not-so-healthy meal, whenever possible I buy “healthier” options of the boxed mac and cheese. My favorite healthier choices are Simple Truth Organic Macaroni and Cheese or  Annie’s Macaroni and Cheese Bunny Pasta (my daughter especially likes this one because of the bunny shapes).

Then, I also try to add some nutritional value to the yellow, carb-loaded treat.

I have found the following 5 ways to make boxed mac and cheese more nutritious for kids and toddlers:
  1. Greek Yogurt – I learned this tip from my friend Stephanie. Most boxes suggest adding 2 tablespoons of butter for a creamier mac and cheese. Instead add 2 tablespoons of Greek yogurt. The result will be a creamier dish with added protein and probiotics.
My daughter making boxed mac and cheese
I had a little helper in the kitchen today.
  1. Chopped Steamed Veggies – I buy bags of the frozen Normandy vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots). After steaming them I cut the veggies into small pieces (this helps with the picky eaters of the family) and mix it into the mac and cheese. It’s almost like having a form of broccoli cheese soup, which I also love!

boxed mac and cheese with veggies

  1. Cottage Cheese – This is similar to the Greek yogurt tip. Skip the butter and opt for a couple tablespoons of cottage cheese for added protein. Plus the cottage cheese curds will add a nice consistency to the noodles.

boxed mac and cheese with cottage cheese

  1. Pureed Spinach – Steam and puree some steamed spinach and add a few tablespoons to the mac and cheese. I add enough to add some nutrition but not so much that the color or flavor drastically changes and makes my three-year-old question what I’m trying to feed her.

Steaming spinach

  1. Chopped Lunch Meat – This is another great way to add protein and one of my kids’ favorites. Chop up some ham or turkey and mix it into the mac and cheese for a meaty dish.
boxed mac and cheese with ham
Little helping hands.

The great thing about these 5 additions is that they don’t really change the flavor of the macaroni and cheese. If anything these mix-ins make the dish more flavorful so even the picky eaters can still enjoy.

Do you have other ways to make boxed mac and cheese more nutritious? Share your comments with me below.

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14 Comments

  1. My kids love boxed mac and cheese. I always feel so guilty giving it to them because I know it’s not really clean eating. I started buying Annie’s which is way better than Kraft and they don’t seem to notice a difference. I’ve been thinking about adding yogurt but I’m wondering if the taste is really different. This is a great post. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    1. everydaylatina Author

      It does change the taste but not too much, I used to use just 1 tablespoon so there wasn’t that much of a difference. As they got used to the taste I added a little more.

      Reply
    1. everydaylatina Author

      I’ve thought about using pureed carrots but didn’t know if that would change the taste too much. I will have to try it, and great tip about the water!

      Reply

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