BrokeAss Gourmet

BrokeAss Gourmet

Real Mac and Cheese

  • Prep Time 0:05
  • Cook Time 0:30
  • Estimated Cost $12.50

When the weather is crappy (as it was in San Francisco this weekend), what could be better than hot, creamy macaroni and cheese? But don’t reach for that crap in the box. We think that for a few dollars more and a little bit of effort (but not much), you can do WAY better. The best thing about this very classic macaroni and cheese recipe is that it is based almost entirely on pantry and fridge basics, so it’s cheap and easy.


  • 1/2 lb. macaroni elbows, boccoli, or small penne pasta $2
  • 3 tbsp butter $1.50 for a stick
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar $3.50 for 12 oz
  • 1/4 cup flour (do not substitute whole wheat) Pantry
  • 1 cup half-and-half $1.50
  • salt and pepper to taste Pantry
  • sprinkle of nutmeg $2 for 1 oz.
  • 1/4 cup unseasoned bread crumbs $2 for 15 oz.
  • vegetable oil for greasing pan Pantry


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cook pasta according to directions in salted water. While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a small pot over medium heat. Once it has melted, sprinkle in the flour, whisking until it forms a sticky dough (this is called making a "roux": Once the dough has formed, add the half-and-half a little bit at a time, whisking throughout, until you have a smooth, creamy sauce. Add more half-and-half to thin it slightly if necessary (it shouldn't be).
  2. Sprinkle in your cheese and stir until it melts into the sauce. Keep whisking. Add salt and pepper to taste and a little sprinkle of nutmeg. Stir until smooth and then remove from heat.
  3. When your pasta is done cooking, drain it and immediately return it to the pot you cooked it in. Toss with the cheese sauce until all the pasta is coated.
  4. Lightly grease the bottom and sides of an 8" pie pan or a 6x8" rectangular pan with vegetable oil. Pour in your cheesy pasta and use a spatula to pat it down so it fills every edge of the pan. Sprinkle with the bread crumbs.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes. Serve hot with a green salad or on its own.

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What They're Saying

Mike Gibson, on Feb 23, 12:07 PM, wrote:

And to think I made Velveeta shells and cheese last night, with some siracha and fake chicken mixed in. :(

Melinna, on Feb 23, 02:28 PM, wrote:

OK. I’m feeding the kids this tonight. I may have to insert the orange food coloring but hopefully not!

Stuart, on Feb 23, 03:46 PM, wrote:

I do something much like this.

My variants:

If I have it lying around, I will usually toss in some sour cream. Also, cottage cheese put through a blender works well. If you don’t have half and half, either of these + milk will do a good job.

If you have trouble getting your cheese to melt without glopping, toss it into the blender with a bit of milk.

I also like to add a chopped onion, because… hey. onion.

Whoa, what the ., on Feb 23, 07:57 PM, wrote:

This may be a good dish but it looks like a bunch of maggots. Ewwwwwwww!

Kaligenia, on Feb 25, 03:54 AM, wrote:

Your recipe for mac and cheese sounds delicious, but at at total cost of $12.50 is it really accurate to state that it costs only “a few dollars” more than the product you can buy in a box (which you can still purchase for under $ 2.50)?

For the “princely sum” of $ 12.50 you should be able to include a salad and a side-dish, maybe even dessert….But I will try your recipe someday, maybe to celebrate my tax return LOL. And thanks for your efforts, I hope to read more future recipes.

Krista, on Feb 26, 10:39 AM, wrote:

Your recipe looks great, but I have to say that I am glad I live where I do if those are your actual prices. I get 14 oz. whole wheat pasta for $1.50 – white pasta is less than $1 a lb. Butter is $2.15 a lb, etc.

Culturalreform, on Dec 13, 12:30 AM, wrote:

All I had to buy tonight was half and half. I doubled this recipe and it was the BOMB!

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I like macaroony

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