How to Make Box Mac and Cheese Better (3 Easy Hacks To Try!)


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Wondering how to make box mac and cheese better? Try these 3 clever ideas!

3 ways to jazz up mac and cheese

Have a couple of boxes of mac & cheese hanging out in your pantry?

They can be super convenient and are definitely an inexpensive, kid-friendly meal on days when you just don’t feel like cooking from scratch!

Today, I’m sharing a few quick and easy frugal family meal ideas that make box mac and cheese even better.

If your family has been bored at dinnertime, these boxed mac and cheese hacks will help!

a spoonful of mac and cheese with taco meat

How to make box mac and cheese better…

On some occasions, I will take the time to create mac and cheese from scratch. And then there are other times when the lunch or dinner dilemma can be solved quickly with some help from our beloved pantry staple – boxed mac and cheese. 🙌

Whether you prefer the classic blue box brand, organic, or shells & cheese, there are some tasty additions that can be added to your favorite brand to make a cheesy and oh-so-comforting meal, not to mention EASY!

All three of these boxed mac and cheese hacks start off with you preparing two boxes of mac and cheese like you normally would according to the package instructions, and then we’ll add in protein and veggies!

Wondering how to make box mac and cheese better? Check out these ideas…

tuna macaroni in a skillet

1.) Tuna Noodle Casserole Mac and Cheese

Love mom’s old-fashioned tuna noodle casserole? Get similar flavors by adding in a can of tuna, peas, shredded sharp cheese, and top with crushed Ritz crackers or crispy onions. So yummy and so comforting!

Hip Tip: If you have non-tuna fans in your family, try adding canned chicken instead!

how to make boxed mac and cheese better by adding sausage and broccoli

2.) Sausage and Broccoli Mac and Cheese

This one is so simple yet SO GOOD! Here I’ve added some cut-up pieces of cooked smoked sausage, and steamed broccoli. It all pairs so nicely with the creamy cheese and noodles, and I love a good 3 ingredient meal!

Hip Tip: You can also throw in some sliced hot dogs or diced ham instead of sausage for a similar version.

a plate of taco mac and cheese, which is one way how to make box mac and cheese better

3.) Taco Mac and Cheese

Take taco night to the next level by incorporating mac and cheese for a cheesy twist on this family fav! Here, I’ve added in yummy taco seasoned ground beef, a can of Rotel tomatoes and chilies, and kidney beans. This was insanely delicious and was my family’s favorite idea out of all three!

Hip Tip: I added kidney beans, but of course, black beans or pinto beans would be yummy here instead! It’s a great way to use up what’s in your pantry.

3 plates of mac and cheese with different toppings


How To Make Box Mac & Cheese Better – 3 Meal Ideas

yield: 4 SERVINGS

prep time: 10 MINUTES

cook time: 15 MINUTES

total time: 25 MINUTES

Here are 3 simple dinner ideas that start with a box of mac and cheese from the pantry!

1.) Tuna Noodle Mac and Cheese:

2.) Sausage and Broccoli Mac and Cheese:

3.) Taco Mac and Cheese:


For the Tuna Noodle Mac and Cheese:

Add tuna, peas, and extra cheese to already prepared mac & cheese. Turn heat to medium and stir to melt and heat ingredients. Top with crushed crackers.


For the Sausage and Broccoli Mac and Cheese:

Slice and brown sausage in a skillet. Add it along with the steamed broccoli to the already prepared mac and cheese, and mix to combine.


For the Taco Mac and Cheese:

Cook ground beef, drain grease, and season with taco packet and add 1/3 cup water. Add meat to the already prepared mac and cheese along with Rotel and beans. Stir to combine.

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kid eating a plate of taco macaroni

  • Buffalo sauce and cooked chicken
  • a can of chili
  • cream cheese, chives, and bacon
  • pepperoni and pesto
  • cooked ground beef and BBQ sauce
  • chill for a cold pasta salad by adding mayo with lots of chopped veggies

making tuna noodle macaroni on the stove

These are super yummy ideas and easy on the budget, too!

All three of these ways how to make box mac and cheese better cost under $10 to make and serve 4-5 easily.

I ordered all my ingredients using Walmart Grocery pickup for under $30. During quarantine, I discovered how easy grocery pickup is, and it’s something I continue to do since it’s so convenient!

3 plates of mac and cheese with different toppings

My team member, Jenna, gave these boxed mac & cheese hacks a test and here’s what she had to say:

“Wow! These are such fun hacks! I love that each idea uses staples from the pantry or freezer. That’s the best way to jazz up a dinner idea! I can’t pick a favorite of these three, but I can tell you each of the kids have a favorite! Super great ideas and so delicious!”

Eating low carb? Check out 3 easy ways to jazz up a frozen bag of cauliflower rice!

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