This story is part of Home Tips, CNET’s collection of practical advice for getting the most out of your home, inside and out.
Even as a culinary school grad, cheese educator and former fine dining employee, I have space in my heart for the homely wonder that is boxed macaroni and cheese. This is a safe space where anyone may freely admit the same.
Boxed mac’s lure isn’t just nostalgia, but I grew up on it and that’s certainly part of the appeal. There’s something weirdly appetizing about the squidgy blend of noodles, milk, butter and the enigmatic “sauce packet” once it all comes together to make its bizarre magic in a pot.
It may taste more of salt than of actual cheese, and I’m a little suspicious about powdered dairy in general, but the buttery, salty porridge feel of boxed macaroni and cheese can be best summarized by a native Italian I made it for once: “Why is it so terrible, but so good?”
Despite having any degree of culinary credibility, I support both the economics and ambition of using boxed mac and cheese for the creation of something more elevated. Try any or a combination of the following nine hacks for taking your macaroni and cheese kit from boxed, to rocks.
Speaking of cheese, we have guides on how to store it so it lasts longer and how to find great cheese for the best price.