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Meal Ideas

Make-Your-Own Mac & Cheese Bar

Comfort food, but make it fun for the whole family.
Make-Your-Own Mac & Cheese Bar

Almost every kid’s favorite, you can never go wrong with a bowl of mac & cheese. And you can easily kick it up a nutritional notch or two! We prefer to skip the boxed kind to avoid preservatives and artificial ingredients, but if you just don’t feel like shredding your own cheese or if making a roux seems daunting, there are plenty of cleaner options on the market. 


With just a few ingredients (many that you may already have on hand) and 30 minutes of your time, you’ll have created a family favorite! Utilize your Rover Trays to lay out the ingredients and use this as a guide to build your own mac & cheese bar at home! 


SHOPPING LIST


Main Ingredients:

1 (1lb) macaroni or favorite shape pasta

¼ cup butter

¼ cup all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon salt

2 cups milk

2 cups shredded medium or sharp Cheddar cheese



Protein Add-Ins: 

Rotisserie chicken

Pulled pork

Ham cubes

Meatballs

Sausage

Ground beef

Black or kidney beans


Vegetables Add-Ins:

Peas

Broccoli (steamed or roasted)

Spinach (sautéed or simply defrosted)

Green beans (steamed or sautéed)

Asparagus (sautéed)

Brussels sprouts (roasted) 

Butternut squash (roasted)

Cauliflower (steamed or roasted)

Broccoli rabe (steamed or sautéed) 

Brussels sprouts (roasted)

Spaghetti squash (roasted)

 

Condiments:

Salsa

Barbecue sauce

Pesto

Buffalo sauce 



FEATURED INGREDIENTS

Mac & cheese is a delicious way to subtly introduce new foods to your kiddo’s palate. Here are the benefits (and fun talking points!) of incorporating these ingredients into your mac & cheese night: 

Broccoli rabe

  •  Vitamin A keeps eyes healthy 
  • Antioxidants (glucosinolates) help your blood flow happily
  • Vitamin K makes your bones strong

Brussels sprouts

  •  Fiber is good for your tummy
  • Antioxidants help balance out too much sugar and other yucky stuff 

Spaghetti squash

  • Vitamin C builds immunity against the sniffles
  • Vitamin A keeps your teeth healthy

Make your pasta:

1. Boil water.

2. Season generously wit salt.

3. Cook pasta for 8-10 minutes, until al dente

4. Drain pasta, but do not rinse.


Make a roux:

*A roux is a thickening agent made of one part fat and one part flour that helps to thicken sauces

1. Melt the butter, but do not let it brown.

2. Whisk in flour & salt until smooth, about 1 minute.


Turn it into a cheese sauce:


1 .Slowly whisk in the milk until the mixture is thick. Be careful not to overcook or burn!

2. Mix in the cheese until melted and the sauce appears smooth. It will thicken as it cools.


Now, just add your macaroni! 


LUNCH WITH THE LEFTOVERS

With a microwave safe tray, you can most definitely send mac & cheese leftovers in the Explorer lunchbox. But egg wrappers make the perfect vehicle that'll fit just right into your Rover, Launch, or Shuttle lunchboxes. You can have fun with these by adding in any extra cheeses or topping from the night before. 


Mac & Cheese Egg Rolls

1. Place an egg roll wrapper in a diamond position

2. Fill the bottom third of the wrapper with 2 tablespoons of mac & cheese filling

3. Place an egg roll wrapper in a diamond positionRoll up the corner over the filling and tuck.

4. Fold in the sides of the wrapper to cover the center.

5. Brush the top corner with water and continue to roll until it is completely closed and sealed.

6. Brush egg rolls with olive oil.

7. Place seam side down in air fryer

8. Air fry at 400° for 4-5 minutes per side

9. Serve with ranch, buffalo ranch, or marinara sauce!



MORE LUNCHBOX LEFTOVER IDEAS:

  • Use your Baking Trays to bake mac & cheese “muffins” To do this, whisk 1 egg with 2 tablespoons milk and toss with 1 cup of room temperature leftover mac & cheese. It’s optional (and delicious) to add more cheese if you’d like and finish it with a buttery breadcrumb topping. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes. You can add any mix-ins you’d like too! 
  • Make quesadillas or grilled cheese
  • Turn them into waffles! Just be sure your leftovers are heated before adding them to your waffle maker. 
  • Make an arugula salad. 

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