It’s no secret that most toddlers love Macaroni and Cheese. It’s like how moms love (need?) coffee and dads love golf. These are simply facts of life–at least in our household. When my son was a baby I was determined to feed him a varied diet. Because I love to cook and we all love to eat, I wanted him to enjoy whatever was on the menu alongside us. Truth be told, I’m also lazy and didn’t want to be cooking separate meals for each family member.
“True story: my mom still makes separate dishes when we all get together as a family. My brother won’t eat tomatoes unless they’re ketchup and visible onions might as well be poison.”
Right from the beginning I would feed my son whatever we ate, making little to no changes. I’d puree things if I had to, but that was about the extent of it. He was regularly eating spices and chilies by the time he was 8 months old and rarely would he object.
Before you start to think I’m bragging about my toddler’s advanced and refined palate (HAHA), let me assure you he’s no different than any other toddler. He may have started out eating whatever I offered without protesting but once he realized he had choices–my mini epicurean went on sabbatical. A macaroni and cheese, fish stick and frozen waffle sabbatical, to be specific.
I’m no Macaroni and Cheese connoisseur, but this is how my Grandma made the dish for my cousins and I when we were little and therefore I declare it’s the best Macaroni and Cheese I’ve ever eaten. In fact, it’s really the only way I like my macaroni and cheese, although some people like a good baked version, which we wrote about last winter.
This recipe for Stove-top Macaroni and Cheese is sure to make your toddler happy. I know mine gets pretty excited when he sees it on his dinner plate. I love that it’s an easy recipe and can be made in one pot, too–which means less dishes and more happiness!
As an added bonus, this simple recipe is completely adaptable to your toddler’s tastes. Do they have a favorite veggie? Chop some up and toss it in the pot. Are you looking for a way to use leftover rotisserie chicken? Shred a bit and stir some in!
My son loves vegetables (knock-on-wood) so I usually stir in a handful of frozen peas, corn and carrots. I also sometimes add a can of tuna for a bit of extra protein. Cut up hot-dogs or crumbled bacon strips are usually toddler approved, too. Get as creative as your little foodie will allow!
- Macaroni Noodles- 1 cup, uncooked
- Butter- 1 tbsp.
- American Cheese Slices- 4 or 5, depending on how cheesy you like it*
- Milk- 1/2 to 1 cup, depending on how saucy you like it*
- Salt- as needed
- Pepper- as needed
- Cook the noodles on the stovetop according to the package directions. Strain and set aside.
- In the same pot you used to cook the noodles, toss in the butter and the milk. Cook on medium flame until the butter is nearly melted.
- Tear the pieces of cheese into quarters and add to the pot. Stir continuously.
- Once the cheese has melted--it'll only take a minute or two--add in the cooked noodles. Toss in any additional veggies/meats at this time and stir to combine. Continue to cook, stirring often, until the sauce has thickened to your desired consistency.
- Once everything is heated through and the sauce has thickened to your preference, season with a bit of salt and pepper. Serve it up and enjoy!
- I prefer to use KRAFT brand American Cheese slices. My Grandma used the American cheese she bought locally from Sampson Dairy.
- I usually make this recipe with evaporated milk, if I have it on hand. You can purchase little 5 oz. cans at the grocery store and they're the perfect size! Otherwise I use whatever I have on hand, usually 2%.
- If the add-in ingredients require cooking prior to eating, ensure they are cooked before adding them to the dish. No one wants to get sick.