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Macaroni 5 Ways [Kid & Budget Friendly Recipes]

What do you crave when you return home from vacation? Some may reply by saying “sleep in their own bed” or “a long hot shower”… I ALWAYS crave plain boiled broccoli and macaroni with tomato soup. There is something comforting to me about those foods and no matter how many work trips or vacations I go on they seem like home.

Growing up my mom had a few staple meals she made, and guess what… they all involved macaroni. I guess it makes sense that macaroni somehow tastes like home to me although I have no idea where the broccoli comes into play.

Whether you are on a budget, trying to find kid friendly meals, make less mess in the kitchen with one-pot options or simply trying to feed the masses I hope you find these recipe not only delicious but part of your meal-time solution. 

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Table of Contents


My mom still makes this recipe on a regular basis. She always cuts the amount of curry in half, but I love curry so always add extra. The first time you make it I suggest using 1 tsp so you can gauge what level of curry flavour you, and especially the kids, will enjoy.

1 1/2 cup uncooked macaroni (My mom uses whole wheat macaroni)

1 cup shredded light cheddar cheese

1 1/2 cup diced cooked chicken

1 can sliced mushrooms

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 can low fat-low sodium cream of mushroom soup

1 1/2 cup 1% or skim milk

2 tsp curry powder

  • Mix together all ingredients other than 1/2 cup milk and curry powder in a casserole dish. 
  • Bake at 350 degree oven for 1 hour or microwave on high for 25 minutes.
  • Once cooked add: 1/2 cup 1% or skim milk and 1-2 tsp curry powder.
  • Mix together and serve.


Even if you don’t think you like tuna, try this recipe! Little Dude is quite fussy and doesn’t like fish, but he eats this casserole and loves it.

3 cups macaroni (You guessed it, my mom used whole wheat ;))

1 can low sodium-low fat cream of mushroom soup

1 1/2 cup skim milk

1 can flaked tuna in water

1 1/2 tsp minced onion

  • Cook macaroni until tender.
  • Lightly grease 2-3 liter (9 x 13 approximately) casserole dish.
  • Mix remaining ingredients together in casserole dish- add macaroni & mix together.
  • Sprinkle 1/2 -3/4 cup shredded light cheddar cheese on top.
  • Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees or microwave on high for 12-14 minutes. Cheese should be melted.


8 oz whole-grain elbow macaroni

2 cups low fat small curd cottage cheese

½ cup canned pumpkin puree

¾ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

½ cup whole wheat breadcrumbs

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  • Fill a large pot with water and boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, about 5 minutes, drain pasta and pour into a 9 x 13 baking dish.
  • Meanwhile, puree cottage cheese and pumpkin. Add this mixture to the cheddar cheese and pasta, and then stir to combine. Top with breadcrumbs and bake for 15 minutes or until top is browned and cheese is melted.


This recipe is known by those in Cape Breton as “Goulash” and I am yet to find two people that make it the exact same way. The outcome is always relatively the same – but the ingredient that cannot be purchased really is the taste of home.

1 lb ground beef

1 jar tomato or pasta sauce

2 cups macaroni

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

  • In a large skillet, cook the ground beef over medium high. Drain.
  • Meanwhile, fill a large pot with water and boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, about 5 minutes, drain pasta and pour into a 9 x 13 baking dish.
  • Mix the cooked ground beef & tomato sauce with the cooked macaroni in the baking dish. *If this is being made in Cape Breton a little sugar (1 tbsp or so) is typically added to the tomato sauce. I always skip this step, but the Mr would never skip this step!
  • Cover with shredded cheese and bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until the cheese has melted.


You’ve seen me share recipes from Ann before and it is almost certain you will see them again. she is one of the best cooks I know and gifted me a recipe book of her tried and true recipes when we got married. When I need inspiration I look to Pinterest and this recipe book.

1/4 cup Butter

1/4 cup Flour

1/2 tsp Salt

2 cups Milk

1 package (227g) Old Cheddar Cheese (Ann uses light)

1/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese (Ann uses light)

3 cups cooked Elbow Macaroni

1/4 cup Soft Bread Crumbs

  • Melt butter in saucepan over low heat. Blend in flour and salt, cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. 
  • Gradually whisk in milk, cook stirring frequently, until thickened. 
  • Add 1 1/2 cups of Cheddar Cheese (reserve remaining 1/2 cup for topping) and Parmesan Cheese. Stir until melted.
  • In 1 1/2 QT Casserole dish , layer half macaroni and cheese sauce (Ann sometimes adds a layer of cooked chicken or ham here). Then add the top layer of macaroni and cheese sauce.
  • Top with reserved cheese and breadcrumbs. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Don’t forget to PIN THIS POST and if you make any of these recipes, be sure to tag your photo @theresashoeforthat on Instagram / Facebook and use the hashtag #theresashoeforthat – Enjoy every bite!

Make these recipes even easier with Pampered Chef! My recommended tools include:

Rockcrok Dutch Oven

Mix ‘N Chop

Bamboo Spoon Set

As a Pampered Chef Independent Consultant I may make a small commission if you purchase a product linked in this post.

xo Jenna


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