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Such a simple dish. It takes almost nothing to be able to make a good bowl of Mac & Cheese. Time? About 20 minutes - because that is how long it takes to cook the pasta. Ingredients? Simple, inexpensive, and things you likely have on hand anyway – eggs, milk, pasta, cheese, salt.
We have five simple, delicious, and inexpensive recipes on the Dr. Gourmet website and a Google search finds 12 million results (in 0.31 seconds) for the search phrase "healthy mac and cheese." Why would anyone purchase a box of premade Mac and Cheese? I am not really sure, but there are dozens of manufacturers making them and for me they make a good target for review (and, generally speaking, my scorn).
Today's box of treats comes from a company called daiya Foods (note that their logo has no initial capital in their name). A name that I have no idea how to pronounce – dayYA perhaps? Or possibly dieYA? There are, of course, DAYya and DIEya as choices, but anyway these are labeled as "deliciously dairy free" and tout the claims of being gluten, soy and lactose free also. So for our friends that are wanting to avoid all of these things, here is what you can expect from this product.
First up was the Deluxe Cheddar Style. The box claims that it serves three and I am always dubious but in this case there are actually 6 ounces of pasta so we were impressed with the truth in packaging. Each serving contains 300 calories, 580 milligrams of sodium and 2 grams of fiber. The cooking instructions are the simplest around: boil the water, add the pasta, drain after it is cooked, mix together with the packet of cheese sauce and serve. Couldn't be easier.
The problem is that there is no flavor. This sort of tastes like cheese - but not really - and while it is creamy, the texture of the sauce is a bit gummy. It has an oddly vinegar flavor that was hard to place. This is just not very good.
We thought that the Deluxe White Cheddar Style Veggie Cheezy Mac would be better - maybe - but in a blind taste testing I am not sure that you could tell the difference between these two dishes. The sauce was a bit less sharp but still had the odd sour vinegary flavor. It did come with bits of dried vegetables and peas mixed in with the pasta, and when they were cooked they added nothing to the dish.
Both of these were pretty terrible. The only good thing about them is the macaroni pasta itself, which was tasty and firm. At $4.99 the product works out to about $1.66 per serving, which for a convenience food is not bad, but you can do better by purchasing your own ingredients, even if that includes the more expensive gluten free pasta.
The take home is that we have yet to find a good product in the dry Mac & Cheese line and don't think you should even try with 12 million choices of easy, simple, and inexpensive recipes (ours are listed below). By the way, there are 1.7 million results for "dairy free healthy mac and cheese" on Google and 861,000 results for "dairy soy gluten free healthy mac and cheese."
A recipe for fresh Mac & Cheese is convenience food already, so you don't need to buy a box to make it any more convenient.
Reviewed: May 6, 2016