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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Cheesy Macaroni and Cheese – Store versus Homemade


To teach my kids that  macaroni and cheese doesn’t always have to come from a box I decided to make some from scratch.  Here is the recipe I went with.

Creamy Macaroni and Cheese Recipe


  • 2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup American cheese (cubed)


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Cook noodles as package dictates and set aside.
  • Melt butter in saucepan until it starts sizzling at medium heat.  Stir in flour, salt, and pepper.  Add milk and constantly stir and allow to boil for 7-8 minutes.
  • Reduce temperature to low and slowly add cheese and stir until cheese is completely melted.
  • Combine noodles and cheese and place in a casserole dish and grate cheese on top and bake for 30 minutes (or until cheese is melted)


The Contender – Store Bought

Kraft Macaroni and Cheese Dinner, $1.09

Ingredients: Enriched Macaroni Product (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Ferrous Sulfate [Iron], Thiamin Hydrochloride [Vitamin B1], Riboflavin [Vitamin B2], Folic Acid); Cheese Sauce Mix (Whey, Milkfat, Milk Protein Concentrate, Salt, Sodium Tripolyphosphate, Contains Less than 2% of Citric Acid, Lactic Acid, Sodium Phosphate, Calcium Phosphate, Milk, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Enzymes, Cheese Culture).

After adding the required required milk and butter the total cost of the store bought meal is $1.43.

The Challenger - Homemade

Here are the costs of making this recipe yourself:

Ingredient Amount Cost
Macaroni 2 cups $ 0.12
Butter 4 tablespoons $ 0.265
Flour 4 tablespoons $ 0.031
Salt 1/2 teaspoon $ 0.003
Pepper 1/8 teaspoon $ 0.001
Milk 2 cups $ 0.374
Cheese 1 cup $ 1.250

All together it cost $3.01 to make this recipe. 

The Decision…


Store bought


Price   image   image   image   image
Taste   image   image   image   image   image
Difficulty   image     image   image 

As far as cost goes it was much more expensive for the homemade on this one.  Making this recipe is much more expensive than the store equivalent.  The homemade version produces a larger meal than the store bought version though not enough to factor this into the equation.

I used both my daughters again as a judge for taste on this one.  My oldest daughter said 4 stars for homemade and one star for store bought.  Though she was sure to point out that Trader Joes Mac and Cheese was just a little better…looks like I might have another challenge on my hands.

Though this is the first time that homemade code more, I can’t argue with the creamy taste of the homemade version, when pressed for time I may still crack open the Kraft Mac ‘n Cheese though still will continue to make the homemade version when I have the time.

Buttermilk Pancakes Recipe – Store versus Homemade

I mentioned it in my frozen mini pancakes post that I would need to try making pancakes from scratch.  Though I had to pick up some buttermilk I had all the other ingredients in my cupboards.  Here is the recipe I went with:



Buttermilk Pancakes Recipe


  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1.25 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract



  • Combine dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder/soda, salt) into a large bowl and mix to incorporate.
  • In a smaller bowl add buttermilk, egg, oil, and vanilla and mix with a whisk for 30 seconds.
  • Immediately before you are ready to cook, add the wet ingredients to the dry and briefly mix though do not overdo it.
  • Cook on medium heat on a lightly oiled skillet until brown on both sides


The Contender – Store Bought

Here are the costs of making pancakes using Bisquick baking mix

Ingredient Amount Cost
Baking Mix 1 cup $ 0.289
Milk 1/2 cup $ 0.093
Egg 1 egg $ 0.133
Vegetable Oil 1 teaspoon $ 0.009
Electricity Stovetop (15 minutes) $ 0.003

So for only $ 0.53 you can make your own pancakes. 

The Challenger - Homemade

Here is the cost of making the pancakes from scratch:

Ingredient Amount Cost
Flour 1 cup $ 0.12
Sugar 1 tablespoon $ 0.020
Baking Powder 1 teaspoon $ 0.032
Baking Soda 1/2 teaspoon $ 0.004
Salt 1/8 teaspoon $ 0.001
Buttermilk 1 1/4 cup $ 0.559
Egg 1 egg $ 0.133
Vegetable Oil 1 tablespoon $ 0.026
Vanilla Extract 1 teaspoon $ 0.028
Electricity Stovetop (15 minutes) $ 0.003


So for only $ 0.93 you can make your buttermilk pancakes.  There is a little extra effort to add a couple more ingredients, though I would consider this marginal

The Decision…


Store bought


Price   image   image   image  
Taste   image   image   image   image   image   image   image   image 
Difficulty   image   image    image   image 

The cost to making pancakes homemade was actually more expensive this time, though the taste between the two were not even comparable.  The homemade buttermilk pancakes were very light and fluffy and that hint of vanilla also helped out.  So going to have to give this one to homemade.