Compared to that experience, making homemade macaroni and cheese at home for just my family is a piece of cake! It really doesn't take much time at all, so why bother buying it and consuming all those additives and preservatives? Everyone in my house prefers homemade to store bought, although I do have a soft spot for Kraft because that's what I grew up with. I used to eat it with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches all the time as a kid!
It's fun to experiment with different cheeses also. Some work well, and others not so much. You can add different ingredients to it like tomatoes, bacon, mushrooms, lobster.....the possibilities are endless. Don't be afraid to make it from scratch. It's not as hard as you might think.
Little B's Homemade Macaroni & Cheese (about 6 servings)
3 cups macaroni/elbow noodles, cooked al dente & drained
1, 8oz block of sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup Gruyere cheese, shredded
10 slices American cheese (I prefer to use the thick slices, white or orange)
2 cups milk
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp onion powder
4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp seasoned bread crumbs
2 tbsp flour
Salt & Pepper to taste
Cook the macaroni in boiling, salted water until it's almost done, then drain and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 and spray an 8x8 baking dish with cooking spray.
In a medium saucepan, melt 2 tbsp butter on medium-high heat. Add the flour and whisk together to make a roux (this will be the base for your cheese sauce), and cook for 1 minute. Add the milk, one cup at a time, whisking constantly to make sure it's nice and smooth - it should start to thicken after a few minutes. Start adding the cheeses, one kind at a time. Continue whisking and allow the cheese to melt before adding the next cheese. Once all the cheese is added and melted, the sauce should be at about a medium thickness - not too thick but not too watery either. If it's too thick you can add a little more milk until you reach your desired consistency. If it's too runny, you can add more cheese until it thickens up a bit - when this happens to me I generally end up adding more American cheese, but you can add which ever type you want or have.
Add the macaroni to the baking dish, then pour the cheese sauce evenly over top. Give it a little stir to make sure the sauce is well combined with the macaroni. Melt the remaining 2 tbsp of butter and add the seasoned bread crumbs to it, stirring with a fork until well combined/crumbly. Sprinkle bread crumb mixture over top of the macaroni, and place baking dish in the oven. Cook for about 30 minutes, or until cheese sauce is bubbly and top is slightly browned. Serve immediately.