Comfort food at it’s finest: mac n cheese. But, when you don’t have time to even boil water, use 3 ready made ingredients to get a comforting, nutritious dinner on the table that everyone will eat.
Loaded Mac N Cheese is an easy one dish recipe that pleases even the toughest of food critics (even if they’re only 3 years old…). On a busy weeknight, this one will save your sanity for sure. God bless ready made ingredients. With a little finagling, you can turn a side dish into the star one-pot-wonder.
This dish does just that. It starts with simple (albeit always delish) mac n cheese, then piles in fresh broccoli and big chunks of ham. Simple & I’m gonna say it…freaking delish!
If you need a family pleasing meal on a busy week night that hits all the comfort food notes, then Loaded Mac N Cheese is here for you. Bonus: you don’t have to cook a thing!
READY MADE INGREDIENTS
Loaded Mac N Cheese is what I like to call an “assembly style” dinner. Basically, it’s a combo of ready made main ingredients and fresh ingredients. There’s ZERO cooking involved. But, they’re essential for becoming a working parent that gets dinner on the table night after night.
As far as I’m concerned, getting these time savers in your fridge is KEY to creating a habit of cooking at home. Which is the goal, right? They help you hop right over the argument of “there’s no time to cook.” Which, to me, is the biggest hurdle of them all.
Added bonus: ready made recipes like this are like the gateway drug for kitchen beginners. That’s right, girl. This is how you get your partner involved in dinner prep. If he can work a microwave & use a knife, then he can “cook” this dish.
And, guess what? Bam. He just made dinner.
MAC N CHEESE
In this dish I use the family size container of pre-made Mac N Cheese. This is NOT the frozen mac n cheese, or the “instant” boxed stuff. The ready-to-eat mac is typically found in the deli section of your grocery store. Super Target has them in their deli section, Walmart Grocery has them, and even Aldi does, too.
There are a handful of different brands out there, and you should pick your fav.
If there’s not a “family size” then just get two of the regular sized containers.
LOADED MAC N CHEESE
Okay, so it’s called LOADED for a reason. It’s filled with big chunks of diced ham & fresh cuts of broccoli. The ham is precooked, and you can find it in the meat section. It’ll come sliced in a number of ways: single slice of ham steak, small diced chunks, or sliced.
For this dish, I prefer to get the larger ham steak and dice it into bigger chunks. But, you do you & get what you like (or what they have). It’s ham. It’ll be delish either way.
As for the broccoli, I like to use the fresh pre-washed florets in the produce section. I like my broccoli to still have a little crunch to it, so I go this route. But, you could totally get the freezer florets & use those, too. Just make sure you drain out the water before combining it with the mac n cheese, or it could get a bit watery.
- Family Sized Ready-to-Eat Macaroni & Cheese (or two regular sized containers)
- 12 oz. Fresh Broccoli Florets (or about 2 cups+ frozen, thawed & drained)
- 1 (8 oz.) Ham Steak, diced
- Heat macaroni & cheese as directed. Dump into a large serving bowl or mixing bowl.
- Before heating the broccoli, cut in half or quarter any large pieces to ensure even cooking. Then, heat until cooked to desired tenderness. I like to go a bit on the al dente (or crisp-tender) side. But, you do you. Before adding broccoli to mac, drain off any excess liquid that may have generated during the cooking process. Then, add to mac. Stir to combine.
- Cut ham steak into chunks. Place in a microwave safe bowl & heat just until warmed through. Take it easy here--15 sec intervals, stir, then add 15 more, as needed. Don't overcook the ham. Then, add to mac mixture. Stir to combine.
- Serve immediately.
- Using the frozen or instant mac n cheese as a substitute is possible. However, a word of caution: the noodles may break apart very easy on those types. It'll work in pinch, but my recommendation would be to only stir the ingredients once to limit breaking up the pasta too much.
- Frozen Broccoli: make sure to drain, drain, drain your broccoli.
- If you add water to steam your broccoli: drain, drain, drain your broccoli.
- Ham: small diced ham can be used.
- Ham: I would not use thin "shaved" ham (sandwich style). There are thicker cuts of sliced ham if that's your preference (or what you have on hand).
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NO-COOK LOADED MAC N CHEESE
Easy, comforting, and inexpensive—that’s a huge win for dinner on a busy weeknight. Take the win! Having a few recipes like loaded mac n cheese in your arsenal will help you survive the weeknight dinner rush.
That’s why I’ve included this recipe in my FREE mini-cookbook!
Everything in there is NO COOK. So, you & your partner can get dinner tackled together this week. No skills, no time, no cooking—just good food at lightening speed.
If you want to create the habit of cooking at home, then THIS is how you get started.