College is rough. You’ve got deadlines, you’re tired and evaluating your life. It can be difficult to go to the kitchen and make the homestyle comfort food that you love so much. Perusing through the frozen food aisle is a great alternative to attempting a new recipe that may or may not be as delicious as you’d like.
Story by Shannel Whigg
ORANGE Magazine has done all the taste-testing for you and found the perfect frozen macaroni and cheese. Check out these five options found at HEB that won’t break the bank.
Michelina’s Macaroni & Cheese
This Macaroni came up to the handsome price of 88 cents at HEB, making it a prime competitor in this race. Aside from this pretty price point, it is quite a lackluster. The packaging presents a cute old lady in the top corner, so one would hope she was helping to perfect the recipe. But it seems as though she forgot to sprinkle the meal with love (or salt and pepper). Upon heating the macaroni and preparing to eat it, it presents a very unnatural yellow color. The pasta is overcooked and the cheese sauce is under-seasoned. The cheese is almost velveeta like, but a bit thinner. Though Michelina’s is edible and inexpensive, make sure to have some seasoning on deck if you would like to enjoy your experience. You could always save your coin for something with a little more pizzazz.
Photo courtesy of Wal-Mart.com
Stouffer’s Classic Macaroni & Cheese
If you ask anyone which frozen macaroni and cheese to buy, they would probably say Stouffer’s and that is an acceptable choice. The cheese tastes full and real, unlike many frozen products. The best part comes rather unexpectedly from the burnt little crusties around the sides of the container that offer dimension to a meal that could become quite boring. This macaroni does lose points because there is a grittiness in each bite, as though there was too much flour in the recipe for the cheese sauce. It is not a perfect macaroni and cheese, but it will do.
Photo courtesy of Target.com
Lean Cuisine Vermont White Cheddar Mac & Cheese
With 250 calories and a $2.50 price tag, Lean Cuisine’s Vermont White Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese is the one to go for if you are watching your weight. Though the visuals are a little off-putting, with a glue-like consistency, it tastes much better than it looks. This macaroni has a light, clean flavor that tastes healthy. It could use some sprucing, but for a meal that will leave you satisfied in a way that only pasta can do, this is the macaroni to go for.
Photo courtesy of Lean Cuisine
Stouffer’s Garlic Parmesan Mac & Cheese
Alas, a macaroni that does not require an armory of seasonings and a bath of hot sauce. Stouffer’s Garlic Parmesan Macaroni and Cheese is well-seasoned and topped with bread crumbs and parmesan, delivering crunch and spices in every creamy bite. Like the other Stouffer macaroni and cheese, the burnt sides bring so much excitement to the dish that you have to wonder if it is intentional. Somewhere in a Stouffer’s factory, there is a person testing the containers to make sure the sides of the macaroni burns just enough, and they are doing a good job. This macaroni comes short with the same grittiness tasted in the original Stouffer’s product. Despite this problem, it presents a great, comforting dish, and at $1.83, you can indulge for the entire week without guilt.
Photo courtesy of Target.com
TX Street Eats Mac N' Cheese With Attitude
When at HEB, you have to try HEB brand products, and though this macaroni has the highest price of the ones listed here at $3.25, it is worth every dime. When you open this macaroni what do you think is the first thing you see? Real cheese. If that isn’t impressive enough, there are six different cheeses: cheddar, fontina, cream cheese, asiago, blue cheese and mozzarella. This rich and satisfying macaroni comes with full flavor that requires no additional sprucing. Not only will it make your taste buds dance, but the cheese will actually string in a fun way.
Photo courtesy of HEB