Mac and Cheese Casserole

Mac & Cheese

This recipe for a Mac and Cheese Casserole is so easy to do. The sauce of this casserole is a basic alfredo which is made in the cooked meat giving this dish a hearty and flavorful taste. In this post, I will share how to make an alfredo sauce that is the easiest and most delicious recipe. Additionally, this casserole recipe costs well under $20 when using 2-pounds of ground beef. If you were to use ground pork or even tofu, the cost would be much less.

Mac and Cheese Casserole cooked in a white baking dish

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Published May 6, 2022
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Cost for this casserole

Mac and Cheese Casserole is a monthly go-to for our family. Not only is it easy on the budget, but the large amount of food it results in helps feed our three growing and hungry boys. As we have a budget for groceries at $170 a week, the goal for meals is to get the cost at or below $20. Additionally, you can choose to use a variety of different meats or tofu for this recipe. I chose to use ground beef, but have used ground pork and turkey in the past and it tastes amazing as well. However, if you are a vegetarian, tofu would work well with this recipe.

16-oz elbow macaroni $1.00
2-pounds ground beef, turkey or pork $8.38
3-4 cloves garlic, minced $0.25
1 shallot, minced $0.25
8 Tbsp butter $0.82
1/2 cup flour $0.10
2 cups heavy cream $1.75
2 cups shredded cheeses, parmesan, asiago and cheddar $2.50
Vegetables $1.95

The total cost for this Mac and Cheese Casserole in a 9 X 13 baking dish was $17.00 and comes in at $1.13 a serving.
That gave our family a hearty meal with plenty of leftovers for lunches the next day.

Homemade Alfredo Sauce

It has been around five years since our house has had a jar of alfredo sauce. The reason that I have not bought alfredo is because making it from scratch is so easy and incredibly delicious. Alfredo sauce is basically butter, a liquid like milk, stock or water, and a whole lot of cheese.

To make alfredo, or any sauce, freshly shredded cheese is essential as pre shredded will not blend into the sauce and just clump up. The reason that pre shredded does not work for homemade alfredo sauce is because it has a powder to help the cheese shreds not stick together while in the bag. If you have ever shredded cheese, had them in a bowl for longer than five minutes, you will notice that the cheese sort of sticks together and becomes a clump again. The shreds begin to stick together and this is essentially the best to use with homemade sauces, or even cheese-based soups. If you were to try to use pre shredded cheese in a homemade alfredo, the cheese would not melt well and will not become a creamy sauce.

homemade alfredo sauce with cooked ground beef

Mac and Cheese Casserole Recipe

Ingredients

2-pounds ground beef, turkey or pork
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
8 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup flour
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup starchy pasta water
1 box elbow pasta
2 cups shredded cheeses, parmesan, asiago and cheddar
Salt and pepper

ingredients for a mac and cheese casserole on countertop with red cutting board

Directions

1. Firstly, set a 6-Quart pot with water on the stove and turn the temperature to high to boil the water. When the water is boiling, cook the elbow pasta according to package directions.

6-quart pot with water on the stove

2. When the pasta is done boiling, make sure to reserve 1 cup of starchy pasta water using a Pyrex measuring cup that is heat safe. Then strain the rest in a sink colander.

3. In a large saucepan on the stove, sprayed with non-stick spray, add the ground beef, turkey or pork and then cook until browned.

4. When the ground meat is cooked, mince the shallot and garlic cloves on a cutting board. Add them to the meat, cooking in the center until just fragrant and then mixing it well with a spatula.

5. Using a Cuisinart Food Processor or box grater, shred the cheese for the Mac & Cheese Casserole sauce, for example today was extra sharp cheddar, asiago and parmesan cheeses. As you are making an alfredo-type sauce, pre shredded cheese will not work as it will not melt into the sauce. However, pre shredded cheese can be used to sprinkle on the top of the casserole before it is baked.

6. Use 8 Tbsp of butter for 2-pounds cooked meat placing it into the saucepan. Once the butter is melted, add 1/4 cup flour for each 4 Tbsp butter and mix well.

7. Take the reserved starchy pasta water in the measuring cup and then slowly incorporate it into the ground meat mixture. This should be 1/2 cup starchy pasta water per 4 Tbsp butter.

add starchy pasta water to the large saucepan for mac and cheese casserole meat sauce

8. Add 2 cup of heavy cream to the mixture and then mix well.

9. Add the shredded cheese, one handfull at a time, to the large saucepan and then mix well.

10. Spray a 9 X 13 baking dish with non-stick spray and then pour the drained elbows into the dish.

11. Season the meat sauce with salt and pepper, then carefully pour it onto the elbows in the baking dish. Finally, sprinkle the top of the Mac & Cheese Casserole with 1 cup of shredded cheese and bake at 350 degrees Farenheit for 30 minutes. Serve with vegetables and enjoy!
~Monica

mac and cheese casserole served on plate with steamed carrots and beans

Recipe for Mac and Cheese Casserole

Ingredients for Mac and Cheese Casserole

2-pounds ground beef, turkey or pork
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
8 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup flour
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup starchy pasta water
1 box elbow pasta
2 cups shredded cheeses, parmesan, asiago and cheddar
Salt and pepper

Directions for Mac and Cheese Casserole

1. Firstly, set a 6-Quart pot with water on the stove and turn the temperature to high to boil the water. When the water is boiling, cook the elbow pasta according to package directions.
2. When the pasta is done boiling, make sure to reserve 1 cup of starchy pasta water using a Pyrex measuring cup that is heat-safe. Then strain the rest in a sink colander.
3. In a large saucepan on the stove, sprayed with non-stick spray, add the ground beef, turkey or pork and then cook until browned.
4. When the ground meat is cooked, mince the shallot and garlic cloves and add it to the meat, cooking in the center until just fragrant and then mixing it into the meat well with a spatula.
5. Using a Cuisinart Food Processor or box grater, shred the cheese for the Mac & Cheese Casserole sauce, for example today was extra sharp cheddar, asiago and parmesan cheeses. As you are making an alfredo-type sauce, pre shredded cheese will not work as it will not melt into the sauce. However, pre shredded cheese can be used to sprinkle on the top of the casserole before it is baked.
6. Use 8 Tbsp of butter for 2-pounds cooked meat placing it into the saucepan. Once the butter is melted, add 1/4 cup flour for each 4 Tbsp butter and mix well.
7. Take the reserved starchy pasta water in the measuring cup and then slowly incorporate it into the ground meat mixture. This should be 1/2 cup starchy pasta water per 4 Tbsp butter.
8. Add 2 cups heavy cream to the mixture and then blend well.
9. Add the shredded cheese, one handfull at a time, to the large saucepan and then mix well.
10. Spray a 9 X 13 baking dish with non-stick spray and then pour the cooke and drained elbows into the dish.
11. Season the meat sauce with salt and pepper, then carefully pour it onto the elbows in the baking dish. Finally, sprinkle the top of the Mac & Cheese Casserole with 1 cup of shredded cheese and bake at 350 degrees Farenheit for 30 minutes. Serve with vegetables and enjoy!
~Monica

mac and cheese casserole served on plate with steamed carrots and beans

Published by Monica's Scratch Kitchen

I have not always had the skills to cook and bake from scratch. As a young wife, I bought every meal frozen or boxed and presented it to my husband with a flourish, believing myself a decadent cook. As our budget shrunk, and our family grew, I looked for ways to stretch our money to nourish our kids with the best for their hungry appetites. Hoping to find recipes and meals that they would love to eat. Through the last 5 years, I have learned so many cooking and baking lessons, and experienced many wins and failures. Come along with me on this journey as I share my recipes that work, how to make them on the cheap, and my tips and tricks to get my kids to eat homemade deliciousness! I will also share updates to our house that we have done in the last year since our move. With one income, we do most of the work ourselves and with amazing family and friends to help out, cutting costs but keeping style and money in the bank! I am a wife and mother of 3 boys and 1 princess. When I was a kid, I remember being asked what I wanted to be or do when I grew up. My response was, "a mom", and I am proud to grow up and be a mom to 4 amazing kids! Samuel is 11, Matthew is 8, Levi is 4, and Elliana is almost 2. We have been blessed to have kids who love to explore foods, to try new recipes, and enjoy helping us around the house. With 4 kids, you better believe they help clean! My husband Tyler and I have been married almost 13 years. We love our kids, we love outdoors, camping, canoeing, grilling, watching movies, and just hanging out making memories. A few years ago I gifted Tyler with his own "menu" book, where we write meals and foods we have loved to eat. Weekly our family decides what our meals will be and I make up a grocery list with what we need. It literally is my favorite chore! I love to shop, so shopping for food on a budget is my biggest win! Thank you for taking the time and visiting my site, Subscribe so you do not miss a post! Keep coming back to hear about new recipes, updates on our home, fun times with our kids, and how to make homemade deliciousness! ~Monica

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