The 1-Ingredient Upgrade for Boxed Mac and Cheese (My Whole Family Loves It)

It was an easy way for my mom to turn noodles into more of a complete meal, and now I make it for my kids.

<p>Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe</p>

Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe

You probably don’t need me to tell you this, but boxed macaroni and cheese is pretty perfect as it is. A cozy bowl full of cheesy carbs in about ten minutes, start to finish. What more could you want?

Well, a boost in nutrients wouldn’t be the worst thing.

Boxed mac and cheese comes with a large side of nostalgia, but that nourishes in a totally different way. There are lots of “better for you” boxed mac and cheese brands crowding the grocery store shelves these days boasting lots of health buzzwords. But these brands are not always the most accessible. And they can be pricey when compared with the classic blue box. So I typically rely on an old-school solution to turn it into more of a meal.

Adding a can of tuna to a box of macaroni and cheese has been a go-to for me since I was a kid. It was an easy way for my mom to turn noodles into more of a complete meal. My mother is a great cook, but it’s no small feat raising four kids on your own.

A can of tuna is affordable, shelf stable, and requires no extra cooking. It’s delicious, approachable, and most importantly, keeps a simple thing simple. Relying on a box and a can isn’t defeat or even survival. Easy is good. Easy is great.

As I grew up and went out on my own, this trick stuck with me. It was partially about the ease of it all, but it was more than that. As a broke young adult, it was reliable comfort when so much else of life was not. And now as a mom myself, I get to make it for my kids. And I’m not going to lie—I make it for myself as an easy work-from-home lunch.

This isn’t a new concept or a recipe I think that I invented. But sometimes you just need a reminder that solutions can be simple. Sometimes it’s just remembering the tools you’ve already got on hand.

<p>Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe</p>

Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe

What Kind Of Tuna Do You Add To Boxed Mac and Cheese?

This is more about taste preference than anything else. I opt for water-packed or tuna packed in its own liquid for this application. I save oil-packed tuna for salads and sandwiches. If you only have oil-packed tuna, I’d recommend scaling back on the amount of butter added to the mac and cheese.

You can add either solid white or chunk tuna varieties to mac and cheese. As for me, this is one of the few places where I favor chunk light tuna. Its flaky consistency and softer texture mix better with the soft noodles. But any can of tuna you have on hand works.

How To Add Canned Tuna to Boxed Mac and Cheese

It's very simple. Boil the noodles according to package directions. Drain a can of tuna. Drain the noodles. Melt the butter in the saucepan and add milk. Stir in the cooked noodles and toss to coat. Add the contents of the cheese packet and the drained tuna. Stir until combined.

<p>Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe</p>

Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe

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