I’m not a big fan of the starchy meal, myself. My mom used to elevate it (slightly) by boiling hot dogs, cutting them up, and tossing them in with the mac and cheese. She’d add a salad, and voilà! We had a dinner. Usually this meal was close to the end of a pay period, when the money didn’t quite reach to the next pay day.
My sons and husband love mac and cheese, especially with the hot dogs. I always tried to cook a kid-friendly meal once a week, interspersed between chicken, or chops, or beef. The most requested kid meal in my house? Mac and cheese.
As we’ve gotten older, we’ve become more health conscious, counting our carbs, calories, and fats, and mac and cheese has slipped farther and farther back on my pantry shelf. Sometimes I get lazy and buy a store’s deli version of the American classic, but those just don’t taste as good. And they become really clumpy when you try to reheat them.
I tested this “most popular staple” theory a while back when we visited our married, younger son one weekend. When I was searching for something else in his pantry, I started moving things around, and low and behold, I came across a box of “Shells and Cheese” (he has more expensive taste). It made me laugh, because I remembered how I would switch off between the basic mac and the shells when my sons were little, just to be fair. And there that box sat on that shelf, in his pantry, a veritable time capsule of happy memories.
Nowadays, both parents work, there are tons of activities for people to get caught up in, and there is the ever-present technology at our fingertips, drawing attention away from the dinner table. And, while I don’t recommend a diet heavy in starchy mac and cheese, I do think that once-in-a-while, a simple meal, with the family all sitting down at once, and the various technology turned off, is just what people need to stay connected.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I hear that little blue box calling my name.
Do you have a box of mac and cheese in your pantry? Do you have a favorite memory or recipe you’d like to share? I’m waiting with my fork!