Chili-Cheese Mac

I was happy to not really have any plans this past weekend and looked forward to three days of laying low, staying in and saving money. I really had to keep myself on a tight budget this week so I’ve had to curb my spending, even at the grocery store. Every ounce of restraint to spend money went out the window though on Sunday when I met some friends for lunch. Because it was dreary and rainy outside, we were restless. No one had anything to do after lunch and no one wanted to just go back home. Next thing we knew, we were on a train to Atlantic City where we played blackjack for five hours straight. For someone who was really trying not to spend any money over the weekend, the whole trip was probably a terribly bad decision so thankfully it worked out. Just one day earlier, I was at the grocery store mentally calculating the cost of my items as I went along. So many of us are on budgets so it’s always good to find recipes that are light on the wallet and can either be made with staple pantry items and/or inexpensive ingredients. This Chili-Cheese Mac is a perfect example of such a meal.

Ground meat is seasoned with spices before being simmered in broth and water with canned tomatoes and macaroni. A super simple cheese sauce made of milk, cream cheese and cheddar cheese is mixed in to create a creamy and filling meal. This dish is the closest thing I have ever made that has reminded me so much of Hamburger Helper, which I love. The spices really provide plenty of flavor and the cream cheese adds a slight tang. I used chicken broth and ground turkey instead of beef broth and beef so any variation works. An addition of peas or spinach would be great additions to make it a full meal. This makes a ton of food too so it’s great if you are feeding a big family or if you just want to have plenty of leftovers for the week.

The ingredients:

Heat oil in a Dutch oven or large pot over medium-high heat. Add ground meat and the spices. Cook 3 minutes or, if using ground chicken or turkey, until meat is fully cooked.

Add broth, water, and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Stir in macaroni; cover and cook 10 minutes or until macaroni is done.

Heat milk and cream cheese in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook 4 minutes or until cheese melts, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and stir in cheddar.

Add cheese sauce to macaroni mixture; toss well to coat.

Additions: None

Omissions: None


  • Chicken broth
  • Ground turkey
  • Whole-wheat macaroni

Overall Rating: Love It


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