Frozen Veggies Are The Perfect Way To Elevate Boxed Mac And Cheese

Boxes of macaroni and cheese at the supermarket
Boxes of macaroni and cheese at the supermarket - Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Despite all the meal prep ideas and zillions of recipes on the internet that promise to be ready in 30 minutes or less, nothing can really compete with a box of macaroni and cheese. In just ten minutes you can have a hot bowl of cheesy pasta on the table using only one small pot, which makes it a near-perfect meal. You can even customize it with extra ingredients. The only thing missing, really, is fresh vegetables for extra vitamins and minerals. This isn't even an obstacle, however, because you can add all kinds of frozen vegetables, which require zero prep. You don't even need to cook the vegetables first. All you have to do is dump them in while you make the mac and cheese and you've got a well balanced meal ready to go.

What kind of veggies work well with boxed macaroni and cheese? The answer is pretty much anything that tastes good to you, and whatever you have in your freezer at the moment. With that said, there are some classic combinations that work really well.

Read more: 12 Vegetables And Fruits That Used To Look Very Different

Smaller Veggies Are Ideal

Bags of frozen vegetables in the freezer
Bags of frozen vegetables in the freezer - Ahanov Michael/Shutterstock

If you've got picky eaters in your house, you know it can be hard to get them to eat vegetables. When they come wrapped up in the package of creamy macaroni and cheese, however, there is often room for negotiation. If you're trying to coax a finicky kid to eat more vegetables, try choosing frozen varieties that mix in well with the mac and cheese and don't look like big intimidating bites. Frozen peas, for example, are a classic pairing with cheesy pasta. Frozen corn is a good choice too, or go for a vegetable medley like carrots and peas for a little variety.

Even if you're cooking just for yourself, small-bite veggies are an easy way to sneak in a little extra nutrition to a batch of mac and cheese, just dump a handful in during the last few minutes of the pasta boil and strain everything together. Then make your cheese sauce and mix in — easy peas(y).

Go Green And Leafy, Or Unconventional

Frozen spinach in a wooden bowl
Frozen spinach in a wooden bowl - studio912/Shutterstock

Corn, peas, and carrots aren't the only frozen vegetables that can elevate a box of macaroni and cheese, of course. Almost nobody can resist broccoli mac and cheese (except for avowed broccoli haters), or if your crew isn't into green things try a handful of frozen cauliflower. Both can be added to the mix by boiling them with the pasta. Just make sure to oversalt the water a little to season your vegetables.

If you're into leafy greens, it's always a good idea to have a bag of frozen spinach in the freezer because a handful can add a little iron, folate, and potassium to an otherwise carb-heavy dinner. Add a half a cup or so to the pot when you're mixing up the cheese sauce with the hot pasta and it will be hot and tasty in seconds. If you prefer frozen kale, which is a little tougher than spinach, it's better to add your veg in the last few minutes of the boil to make sure it's not too chewy in the finished pasta.

You could also go totally against tradition and add frozen veggies like butternut squash, mushrooms, pearled onions, and even edamame. Most vegetables taste good with cheese sauce, so you'll probably like the results. And if not? Well, you've only wasted the price of a single box of macaroni and cheese, which in today's economy is still pretty cheap.

Read the original article on The Daily Meal.