I think that most, if not all university students will agree that macaroni and cheese is a student kitchen staple. While a lot of my friends go for the good ol’ KD, I grew up on President’s Choice White Cheddar Mac and Cheese (amazingly the box design hasn’t changed in 20+ years), and I’ve never really been able to fully get behind the orangey stuff (although I do eat it and enjoy it once in a while).
When I was a kid, my mom used to add green peas and little bits of hot dog or ham to our macaroni, in an attempt to make it a bit healthier and heartier while staying kid-friendly. When I got to university, I started up the habit again, replacing the meat with canned tuna. It’s a good way to integrate protein and a bit of vegetables into the dish without increasing the prep or cleanup time.
I make versions of this macaroni when I’m pressed for time or feel like comfort food. I’ve also made baked versions of this macaroni, from scratch, which is definitely more time consuming, but so worth it once in a while. Either way, hopefully this post serves as inspiration for you to start playing around with your plain mac and cheese! I’d love to hear what you do with yours, so post in the comments!
Dressed Up Mac and Cheese
1 box white cheddar macaroni and cheese
1 tsp butter
2 tbsp milk or soy milk or almond milk
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
1 can chunk or flaked tuna in water
salt and pepper to taste
optional: 2 tsp grainy dijon mustard
TIP: if you’re only cooking for yourself, only use half the box of macaroni and half the cheese sauce packet and save it for another time. Adjust tuna and pea quantities to make a single-friendly portion. No waste!
1. Follow the instructions to cook your macaroni.
2. While the noodles are cooking, place your frozen peas in a microwaveable bowl and fill with water until the peas are covered. Microwave on high for about 2 minutes, until the peas are a bright green colour. Drain and set aside.
3. Open your tuna can and drain the extra liquid. Using a fork, break up the tuna into smaller chunks.
4. Once the macaroni is cooked, drain it and return it to the pot along with the green peas. Add the butter, milk, and cheese sauce, as well as the grainy mustard if desired, and stir until the sauce is incorporated. Add the tuna and stir again.
5. Serve hot, with salt and pepper to taste.