Ok team, things are about to get real simple up in here. I’m talking the most simple of them all, Easy Baked Mac & Cheese.
Not that they’ve ever been complicated…hi, I’m the girl who lives on 5 minute blender enchilada sauce, spaghetti bolognese and even cuts corners with homemade granola. But as good as 39 weeks pregnant is, it also comes with the reality that at some stage in the next 3 weeks, there will be a crying, sleeping, eating tiny human being in this house that is going to be occupying about 150% of our time. And considering the fact that Josh & I are probably going to be functioning on a very similar schedule, only without the food on tap, I’m thinking that having meals that can be pulled out of the freezer and thrown in the oven without any thought are probably going to save some of the aforementioned tears from at least 1 party…um, me.
I’m thinking soups, lasagnes, meatballs and obviously, the epitome of comfort/simple food. Easy baked mac & cheese! Especially because after a week of beautiful sunny days, the weather has finally packed it in and it is wet, so cosy comfort food is definitely the order of the day.
This easy baked mac & cheese is by far one of my favourite meals. It’s easy to make, is perfect as either a main or a side dish and can either be left as strictly mac & cheese or you can add in extras to make it a bit more interesting. I have to admit, I am usually a mac & cheese purist but in the interest of actually being able to pull this out and have it as a complete meal I did add peas and crispy bacon bits…that covers all food groups right? Great.
My favourite thing to do is add breadcrumbs to the top – they add a delicious crunch when you put it in the oven. And the perfect thing about making freezer meals like easy baked mac & cheese is that it’s no harder to make 2 than 1. I doubled the recipe, made one in a regular oven dish and left it for the boys over duck shooting weekend and made one in a disposable tinfoil tray to put in the freezer.
That way, not only do I not have to cook, there are no dishes either! Usually I would rather not use disposable things buuuut needs must and if I’m tossing up between soaking baked on cheese dishes or snuggling with that baby, it’s kind of a no brainer!
Let me know if you have any other recommendations for perfect meals to put in the freezer!
- 250 g dried macaroni
- 50 g butter
- ¼ cup flour
- 2 cups milk
- 1 1/2 cups grated cheese (I used a mixture of tasty & parmesan)
- Salt & pepper
- ¼ tsp nutmeg (optional)
- 1 tsp wholegrain mustard
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup grated cheese
- 1/2 cup crispy bacon bits
Bring a large pot of water to the boil and add the dried macaroni. Cook according to package directions, drain and set aside.
In a microwave proof jug, heat 2 cups of milk for about 1 minute, until warm. Set aside. (This step is optional but speeds up the cheese sauce process)
In a medium sized pot add the butter and flour and cook over a medium heat until the butter has melted, whisking constantly. Cook for a couple of minutes, being careful not to let it burn.
Add about ½ cup of the milk and whisk it into the flour mixture until there are no lumps. Add the rest of the milk and bring to boil, whisking all the time to make sure it doesn't stick to the bottom and go lumpy.
Once the sauce thickens (5-8 minutes) take it off the heat and whisk in the grated cheese, nutmeg (if using), wholegrain mustard and salt & pepper.
Add the cooked macaroni to the cheese sauce and stir through. At this point you can add anything else you want to add to - maybe peas, broccoli, chorizo etc.
Pour into an oven dish, top with the remaining grated cheese, bacon bits, and breadcrumbs. If you are planning on freezing the mac and cheese, at this point cover the dish with gladwrap or put in a snaplock bag and freeze. When you are ready to eat it, remove it from the freezer a few hours before you are ready for it and continue as below.
If you are eating it immmediately, bake at 180°C for 15 minutes or grill at 200°C for 5-10 minutes until the cheese is golden brown.