Kraft introduced the boxed macaroni and cheese dinner in 1937. World War II forced Americans to improvise in the kitchen. With rationed meat and dairy products, working Americans, especially women in the war plants, turned to semi-prepared food products for fast meals. Today, the recession is forcing us into a similar situation, but now it's money and time we're trying to save. Jerry Kolber, a New York television producer, has come up with a series of recipes and a manifesto at a new blog Three Dollar Dinner. The name describes his idea: fast, cheap and delicious meals. Here, for example, is a modern recipe for macaroni and cheese:
Cost per Person: $2.40
Total Work Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 to 40 minutes
Total Cost for Four People: $9.60
Calories per Serving: 500
Mac and cheese in a box is the classic “I’m eating on a budget standby.” But since you end up adding milk anyways, all your paying for is dried cheese and less-than-excellent noodles. You can make delicious garlicky macaroni and cheese all by yourself at home, for about the same cost and about 100 times the deliciousness and healthiness (yes, even healthier than Annie’s Naturals, though that’s not a bad choice if you’re really in a hurry).
This is called Garlicious Mac-A-Cheese because that sounds like a superhero name, and I’d let this Mac and Cheese duke it out with any other mac and cheese any day of the week.
8 oz. macaroni (whole wheat or white elbows or penne) - $1.69
1 free range eggs - $0.32
1 organic onion - $0.60
1 6 oz bag organic or natural shredded cheddar - $3.99
Three tablespoons crushed garlic - $0.25
1/2 cup breadcrumbs - $0.25
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (3 ounces) - $2.00
1 cup organic milk - $0.50
Salt and pepper
Step 1 (3 minutes)
In a large pot bring water to boil and add the pasta. Cook for as long as box suggests (usually about 9 minutes). Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Step 2 (4 minutes)
Scramble the egg in a large bowl for about fifty whisks. Add the milk, two tablespoons mustard, four teaspoons salt, and all the cheddar cheese to the bowl and mix. Grease your large casserole dish (should be about 9 inches by 7 inches, but exact dimensions don’t matter).
Step 3 (3 minutes)
In a small bowl mix the 1/2 cup parmesan with 1/2 cup breadcrumbs.
Step 4 (35 minutes)
When pasta is done cooking, drain it in a strainer. Now add it to the bowl of milk and cheese and egg, mix gently and then pour into the casserole dish. Top with the parmesan/breadcrumb mixture and put it in the oven for thirty minutes.
Step 5 (3 minutes)
The top should be brown and crusty. If it’s not, you can put your oven on “broil” and toast the top by placing the casserole under the broiler flame for 2 or 3 minutes. Handle with care – it’s hot.
Serve and watch as they pass out from the overwhelming pleasure of Garlicious Mac-A-Cheese.