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Macaroni and Cheese with Tomatoes

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  • Prep 2 min
  • Total 20 min
  • Servings 4
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This creamy mac and cheese can be made ultra fast and is packed with flavor. If using, the lemon zest gives it a great citrus kick too.
by: Sarah Walker Caron
Updated Aug 4, 2016
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  • 1 tbsp salted butter
  • 1 1/2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup nonfat milk
  • 1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • zest of 1/2 lemon (OPTIONAL)
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1/2 lb pasta, cooked
  • 1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes, drained


  • 1
    Melt the butter over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Whisk in the flour and cook until it forms a smooth paste (about 1 minute).
  • 2
    Next, whisk in the milk. Cook for 3-4 minutes, whisking constantly, until thickened.
  • 3
    Whisk in the cheddar cheese and lemon zest (if using). Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper.
  • 4
    In a large bowl, combine the pasta and cheddar sauce. Stir well. Add the tomatoes in and stir well.
  • 5
    Serve immediately.

Nutrition Information

No nutrition information available for this recipe

More About This Recipe

  • Uh-oh. No lunch meat. Don't panic. Here are great ideas for empty lunchboxes everywhere!

    It’s 6:30 am and I’m groggily making a cup of coffee while toasting some bread for my son’s breakfast.  Freshly washed grapes are already waiting on his plate. It’s total auto-pilot for me until I get a few sips of that first cup of coffee.

    Finally, Will’s eating and I’ve had about half of my coffee. Time to make his lunch for school. Bread? Check. Mayo? Check. But there’s one problem: When I open the fridge I discover that we’re out of lunch meat. Just. Great.

    Can you say mom fail?

    Fortunately, I am totally prepared with a cache of lunch-box alternatives for when I forget to buy the ham and cheese:

    1. Leftovers

    Got pasta? My son adores when I pack up leftover pasta for his school lunch. I simply heat it up and then pack it into his thermos container … and it’s still warm at lunch time. Or, leftovers like chicken breast can be chopped and put in there with lettuce and veggies for a quickie salad (pack the dressing separately). And another option: A different kind of sandwich -- maybe with thinly sliced apples and pears on bread with peanut butter. Be creative!

    2. Soup and Crackers

    My son is a huge soup fan – particularly anything with a chicken base and noodles. And heating that up in the morning is a swift fix. I just pack it up into his thermos and include a resealable container with crackers. (I recently introduced him to the magic of cheddar fish crackers in soup – he’s a big fan). Try any of the Progresso soups for a super quick lunchbox packer.

    3. A Little of This and That

    Some slices of cheese, some slices of pepperoni, some crackers, some veggies … this mix and match lunch is one of Will’s favorites. He gets to make mini cracker sandwiches with whatever he likes, and I know that he’s got a good meal there. Score.

    4. Yogurt and …

    We’ve always got yogurt in our fridge. It’s a great source of calcium and other nutrients. And in a pinch, it’s a great start to a healthy lunch box. I always include diced fruit (like strawberries) or chocolate chips or granola for my son to mix in, along with two sides.

    5. Quickie Macaroni and Cheese (featured recipe, below)

    It takes a mere 20 minutes to whip up Macaroni and Cheese with Tomatoes, and some mornings, I do. It’s a favorite for my son – and my daughter can eat it at lunch too. Heck, my husband can even pack some for his lunch. Mom win.

    More Lunchbox Ideas

    For more lunchable inspiration, check out these recipes:

    Pizza Dumbbell Lunch Combo Recipe
    Chunky Pizza Soup Recipe
    PBJ Sushi Recipe
    Peanutty Apple Sandwiches Recipe
    Kid-Pleasin' Chili Recipe
    Totable Pizza Tacos Recipe
    Mixed Up Garden Snacks Recipe

    Sarah W. Caron (aka scaron) is a food writer, editor and blogger who writes about family-friendly foods and raising a healthy family at Sarah’s Cucina Bella.

    What do you pack for your kids when you forget the deli meats?
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