46 answers

Is Boxed Mac and Cheese Really That Bad for You?

My son who just turned one loves mac and cheese. I have been buying those organic boxed ones for him to eat. I also got some regular Kraft boxed ones. Just wondering if boxed mac and cheese is really bad for kids? I thought of making my own but I still will be using processed cheese to melt into it ( I really don't know what type of cheese melts well in making mac and cheese).

I want the best for my son so I am torn as to what I should do.

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Featured Answers

If you have a rice cooker, this mac and cheese recipe is SO SO easy and delicious (and much better for kids then the boxed variety)! http://weelicious.com/2010/03/03/rice-cooker-mac-cheese/

2 moms found this helpful

Boxed mac & cheese is basically empty calories. That's why you can eat a ton of it and not feel full. It's really not that good for you. Once in awhile isn't bad, but I'd stay away from more than once every couple of weeks. Look at the nutrition information on the back o f the box and you'll see what I mean.

2 moms found this helpful

The softer the cheese, the better it melts, and the better it stays melted. When I make homemade mac and cheese, I start with a white sauce which is basically a rue (another poster gave you a perfect recipe for that), with milk added. I use 1 cup of cheese for every cup of milk I add to the rue. But you can use more or less depending on how cheesy you like it. I usually use a combination of American, montery jack and a sharp cheddar, but you can use whatever you like. Add the cheese, either shredded or cubed to the white sauce until it melts, then mix it into cooked pasta. If you want it fancy, top with some extra shredded cheese, or Ritz cracker crumbs and bake it till it bubbles. As another poster said, the pre-shredded stuff doesn't work as well, plus it's more expensive. I also tend to stay away from the "cheese food product" type cheeses because of the chemicals, but they do melt really nicely. You can also Google mac and cheese, and you'll probably get about a billion different recipes.

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More Answers

If you learn to make a good roux, then add cheese to it, you can make great mac and cheese. In fact, you can take that cream sauce (the roux) and add peas, or tuna, or chicken, or anything really, serve it over toast and call it a simple meal, with a side of fruit.
I will admit to using the boxed stuff on occasion, however.

oh, here's my recipe (similar to the one in Betty Crocker)
*melt 1 T butter in a sauce pan, don't let it turn brown
*add 1 T flour and whisk together, let "cook" for a minute, it will bind together (if you don't let the flour cook a bit, the sauce will taste pasty)
*slowly add 1 cup of milk, while whisking, mix well and bring to a rolling boil, keep stirring the whole time!
*add up to 1 cup of your choice of cheese, better to use the chunk kind, b/c the shredded kind has additives that make it not stick together, and these can taste funny in the sauce
* or add a can of tuna or some chicken or peas, etc...
Serve the cheesy sauce over pasta or the non-cheesy over toast (hearty whole grain bread works best)

edited to add:
you can use broth instead of milk, and then you just made gravy :)
also, if you heat the liquid first, it helps it mix more quickly in the pan and takes less time to come to a boil. less liquid=thicker sauce

9 moms found this helpful

This is what is listed on the label:
In just 1 cup of Mac and cheese there are:
400 calories
7 g of sugar
1 g of fibre (there is more in the box itself than in the product)
19 g of fat 4.5 g of SAT fat and 4 grams of TRANS fat (question where are the other 11 g of fat coming from????)
11 g of protein
710 mg of sodium.

HERE IS WHAT I KNOW
our bodies metabolize 300 - 400 calories per every 3 hours
7 g of sugar is 2 teaspoons of sugar
we need 20-30 g of fiber per day
as for protein, basically it is 1 g for every pound you weigh. So if your son weighs 30 pounds, he should get 30 g of GOOD protein
No meal should ever be over 20% , it takes too long for the body to digest it.

I kind of agree to the EVERYTHING IN MODERATION comment, but you have to think about it. Would you give you child cigarettes “in moderation”? How about alcohol “in moderation”? Many of the “foods” that we feed out children today are WORSE than alcohol to them…because they are so full of processed garbage their bodies target the “food” as a poison and create the fat to protect it. AKA childhood weight issues.

Please do not be fooled by “organic” boxes…they are STILL PROCESSED – albeit with better ingredients. PLEASE EDUCATE YOURSELF – read books, attend classes, get a wellness coach, but PLEASE LEARN how to feed your family. There is a wonderful ebook available at http://www.heyyougetreal.com/FoodRules.html. It is sooo worth it to get your family on track.

B.
Family Nutrition Coach

5 moms found this helpful

I read an article once that said, in regard to childhood obesity concerns, the problem with feeding your kids mac & cheese regularly is the excessive sodium, fat and calories (not to mention the yellow and red food dye = hyperactivity and out of control behavior). I'll see if I can find the article, but I seem to recall it saying something like it had 3 times the recommended sodium for children. Personnally, I don't think you ought to train your 1 year old's taste pallet to be geared to only demand processed food--and you will be surprised how fast that can happen! When my daughter was 18-36 months, so many other moms lamented to me how their kids "would only eat mac & cheese, chick-fil-a, and McDonald's". My advice to you: Don't start the habit to begin with! Food temper-tantrums of a 2 and 3 year old are not fun! What your objective should be is to get his tastes to enjoy normal food without all the sauces and calorie/fat enrichments. Besides, for a 1 year old, all you need to do is cook up a little whole gain pasta and melt/microwave some shredded cheddar cheese over it. Melted butter (because a *little* butter and olive oil in their diet is needed for brain cell development) and vegetable pasta is also good alternative.

4 moms found this helpful

Do millions of teens and college students basically live off kraft mac and cheese? Do they survive? There ya go...

I'm sure it's not as good for you as other stuff, but it can't be that horrible.

It tastes great, it's easy to make, and it's relatively cheap. What's the problem? :)

4 moms found this helpful

I wouldn't have thought much about it until I read 'The Unhealthy Truth' about our nations food supply and our regulatory systems allowing things that other countries do not allow. Basically in other countries, chemicals must be proven safe to be allowed in their food supply. In our country, chemicals must be proven UNsafe before they are NOT allowed in our food supply. Very scary. Especially since the people funding the "tests" are also producing the chemicals. Read the book, it will scare the pants off you and make you a smarter mom when it comes to your families eating habits/health. Kraft is a huge no-no. Here's a link for the book on Amazon.. http://www.amazon.com/Unhealthy-Truth-Food-Making-About/d....

3 moms found this helpful

Processed cheese uses a form of aluminum, that is what makes the cheese melt easily. If you boil the milk and then add shreaded regular cheese (we like Colby or Cheddar), it melts in just a few minutes on the stovetop. Then add the cooked macaroni, bake for 1/2 hour at 350 to make it extra yummy. No aluminum involved. A great recipe is in the Betty Crocker cookbook if you want to spice it up.

Don't know much about boxed mac 'n cheese, but as a general rule I read the ingredients on boxes. If I don't know what they are, I avoid. Plus, that bright orange color worries me. How natural could that be? Organic is a better choice.

3 moms found this helpful

PLEASE do not use processed cheese for your young son. It's all chemicals -- it stunts their growth and has ingredients on the possible cancer-causing list! If you don't believe me, read the long ingredients and look them up!
Just experiment with cheeses. I grate up four kinds to keep in tight jars in the fridge, the kids sprinkle on what they like. I try for organic when possible, now that they make the orange organic - but when they have choices, they sometimes use all four, which is yummy! Even at 1, my boys would toss and handful into the pan, and loved helping. And when they help make it, they eat it. They add it to broccoli and other 'yucky' foods and it goes a long way to helping them eat them. Now they are 5 and 10 and eat almost everything.

Please save the processed for those occasional fairs or movies on nachos. Your children deserve the very best from you. And chemicals are dangerous. Our parents didn't know as much - the food companies were not required to list ingredients - and now they are. We must be the next generation - evolving and growing. And there are great recipes online - as fast as a box!

3 moms found this helpful

I fully believe anything in moderation, is totally fine. I always look at in the way, that I want to give my son the best eating habits I can. So, in moderation, of course it's not bad. He has mac and cheese every so often. Keep in mind, mac and cheese...is still processed junk food. It doesn't have a whole lot of nutritional value and excessive amounts of sodium.

And yes, lots of people live off mac and cheese. Obviously, they survive. Are they healthy...100%, absolutely not. You can't live off the junk and be healthy sorry.

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