Mac & Cheese One-Dish Meals

I don’t usually use boxed macaroni & cheese, but when you have a hungry family and not much time, there are ways to beef it up to make a one-dish meal.  

I am cooking lunch for 15 people at Maia Mom’s Dream House every Thursday, and the challenge is to use what they have on hand without buying a lot of other ingredients.  They are able to get groceries from the Dream Center food pantry, so the food on hand changes every week.  This past week I used boxed macaroni & cheese, canned pinto beans, ground beef, leftover cooked chicken, and canned tomatoes to make two different versions, one taco with ground beef & beans and one Italian with chicken and tomatoes.  Everyone ended up taking some of each, and they were both surprisingly good.
Taco Mac & Cheese
Serves 8
  • 1/2 lb ground beef, browned
  • 1 can pinto beans, drained
  • 1 packet taco seasoning*
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 2 boxes macaroni & cheese, prepared according to package directions
Combine all ingredients except the macaroni & cheese, and simmer for a few minutes while you prepare the mac & cheese dinner.  When the mac & cheese dinner is prepared, add the meat mixture and mix well.  (I added some crushed tortilla chips to the top.)  *Instead of the taco seasoning mix and the diced tomatoes, I used salsa,chili powder, salt and pepper to taste.

Italian Mac & Cheese
Serves 4
  • 1 cup diced cooked chicken (or browned ground beef or turkey)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes 
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasonings (or to taste)
  • 1 small can chopped black olives
  • 1 box macaroni & cheese, prepared according to package directions
Combine all ingredients except the macaroni & cheese, and simmer for a few minutes while you prepare the mac & cheese dinner. When the mac & cheese dinner is prepared, add the chicken and tomato mixture and mix well.
The inspiration for these dishes came from this blog post by The Humbled Homemaker.  (Check out that post for several other suggestions.)
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