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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.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The cost of recipes can be further lowered by waiting for example, for cheese to go on sale. Then buying in quantity. Unopened, cheese bars last at least 6 months in the fridge. I don't know if they last longer because we have always eaten them by then.