Another backlogged post. I meant to cook this around the same time frame as the white cheddar shells, but clearly I've been preoccupied for the past 6 months. Boxed mac and cheese was a childhood staple at my house. I grew up thinking mac and cheese came from a box, and it didn't occur to me until probably middle school that you could theoretically make it from scratch. Astonishing, I know. So much nostalgia in this box! Oh the memories of almost setting my house on fire at age 8, scarfing down Easy Mac before swim practice during grade school...
$0.99 per box. Not terrible, but I remember when each box was $0.30.
Okay, so to TJ's credit, this mac & cheese doesn't have any artificial colors. Whoopdedoo.
"Trader Joe's Macaroni & Cheese with Wisconsin Cheddar has been carefully developed to bring you that great Cheddar cheese flavor, without the preservatives." Stop right there. Little known fact - I was born in the great state of Wisconsin. Unfortunately, I don't have any memory of it because I moved away at a young age - but I'm pretty sure Cheddar cheese-like flavor would be a more accurate description for this.
A recent episode of my favorite podcast summarizes my feelings about this product. What was I thinking. I haven't consumed boxed mac & cheese in YEARS. I cannot believe that I lived off of boxed mac & cheese for a good part of my childhood. It is so gross. How in the world did I ever eat this?? I'll admit I got a thrill stirring the cheese powder into the cooked pasta, dissolving it into a nostalgic pool of milk and butter, but HOW did I ever enjoy this? It's ridiculously salty, lacks any resemblance to real cheddar cheese, and needed some serious doctoring for it to be edible. I chopped up some cherry tomatoes and sprinkled in some TJ's chili sauce, which disguised the artificial taste enough for me to eat it.
I probably need to bump up the other rating I gave for the cheddar shells, because this boxed mac & cheese makes that one seem gourmet. Somewhere during my college years, I developed snobbier taste buds and outgrew highly processed mac & cheese. Sad? Not really. Buzzfeed has since introduced me to a whole new world of mac & cheese.
TL;DR: Trader Joe's Macaroni & Cheese. Unless you 1) love processed mac & cheese or 2) really can't spare the extra $0.50 to buy the organic white shells, I'd skip this. 3 out of 10.