My kids love macaroni and cheese. Especially the stuff that comes in the blue box. However, as I try to find healthier alternatives, I found Banza Mac and Cheese and decided to test it out. We tested three different flavors and, I’ll be honest, the results surprised me.
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Decisions, Decisions … Which Flavor of Banza Mac and Cheese Should I Buy?
Shells or elbows? White cheddar or orange cheddar? Should I buy one carton or buy a multi-pack? So many decisions …
There are three main flavors that I had to choose from:
- Shells and Classic Cheddar
- Elbows and Classic Cheddar
- Elbows and White Cheddar
I honestly couldn’t decide, so I ended up buying a six pack with two boxes of each in them. They don’t sell these at my local grocery store, but I had the choice of buying at the nearby Whole Foods or ordering online at Amazon. To save on some driving and hassle, I just ordered them online. (Side benefit if you order on Amazon … if you end up liking them, just put them on automatic order with Subscribe and Save).
Cooking Three Different Types of Macaroni and Cheese at the Same Time … Not As Easy As It Sounds
I’ll admit, I was a little ambitious. My family is normally a “two box” family for boxed macaroni and cheese. But because we aren’t typically taste testing different varieties, I just normally dump both boxes in the same pot and call it a day. For this experiment, I enlisted the help of my 10 year old and together we made all three flavors at the same time so we could test them side by side.
Cooking Tip #1:
One caution when cooking these – check the cook time carefully on the back of the box. You don’t want to over-cook these.
Cooking Tip #2:
Also, when cooking, the water will look very foamy on top. This is a normal part of the process with chickpea pasta, but can look very wrong if you aren’t used to it. Don’t let the foam stress you out.
Cooking Tip #3:
When making the sauce, the instructions say to drain the pasta then add the milk and cheese mix into the warm pan. Stir and mix before adding the pasta back in. I tried it that way and it worked fine. I also tried it the “lazy” way where I simply pour the pasta straight back into the pan, add in milk and cheese mixture, and stir it all together. Either way works fine. Do whatever is easiest for you.
Now for the Banza mac and cheese taste test … what did the kids think?
Let’s start with my oldest child. He saw the box before we cooked it, saw the word “chickpea”, and made a face. However, I’ve found that having him help me cook the food actually means that he is more likely to eat and enjoy it. There’s something about making it yourself that makes it taste better. Not quite sure how the science behind that works, but boy, does it work.
Each kid got a plate with three little macaroni piles on it … one of each type. The oldest took a hesitant bite. And then quickly gobbled down everything on the plate. I could barely pause him to ask him which one he liked the best of the three (the answer, by the way, is the Elbows and Classic Cheddar).
My second kid decided that he liked all three of them, but if forced to pick, liked the Shells and Classic Cheddar the best.
My third kiddo loved all three and absolutely refused to pick a favorite. Every time I asked, he would say “all of them”. One of these days I’m going to have to help him learn how to be more decisive, but alas, today is not that day. Sigh.
So, all three were a hit. Even mom and dad both liked them. My favorite was the Shells and Classic Cheddar and my husbands favorite was the Elbows and White Cheddar. Good thing we got a variety pack.
Next day update:
Since we had made three whole boxes, we did, in fact, have some left overs (although not much). My oldest ate them straight out of the fridge (didn’t even microwave them) and proclaimed them just as good the next day. By the way, in the past, there have almost been tears over the fact that we had leftovers of the blue box stuff because apparently, it is NOT good the next day. So, one more point for Banza.
All three flavors of Banza mac and cheese were winners in our house. Fairly easy to make, delicious enough that everyone in my family liked it (which doesn’t happen that often), and healthy enough to make me feel good about what I’m serving for dinner. If you haven’t tried them before, I’d recommend starting with the variety pack to figure out which flavors your family likes best, then buying those flavors going forward. Or, if you’re like me, I will keep buying the variety pack because everyone loves it.
Want another kid friendly chickpea recipe? Try one of these …
Coming Soon …
I am thinking about doing another post about how to jazz up the boxed macaroni and cheese. What do you add to yours to make it more interesting or healthy? Leave your comments in the box below.