Winter = Comfort Food -- amiright?
This recipe is as simple as it gets -- it is one my mom started making when I was a kid! So...if you know the family -- you know my dad was not about convenience foods, lol. He liked homeade...he liked "real food"...and he liked meat and potatoes! So, I can tell you that I virtually NEVER had mac-n-cheese as a meal growing up. It was unheard of! To be fair -- after a hard days work on the farm, a bowl of noodles with no meat...just wouldn't cut it for a hardworking man!
So --- I don't know where my mom got this recipe...but it was a combination of the best of both worlds! Starting out with browned hamburger (meat!), you add sauce to it to make a tomato based meat sauce. Mom generally used canned tomato sauce and added seasoning -- I generally start with my home canned Rotel sauce and add seasonings! (by seasonings I add onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper --- and a dash of cayenne if I feel the need for a "little bit more!" This is meant to be easy -- don't stress the sauce, I really think you can't go wrong! Use whatever your family likes -- or whatever is in the pantry!
Then, while that is simmering, make mac-n-cheese per the box instructions. Easy- peasy. After you have that cheesy goodness ready to go (can you tell I desperately wanted boxed mac n cheese as a kid?!?) -- simply stir it into the meat and sauce mixture. And serve.
If you want bonus points (and if we wanted a super happy dad lol) this meal paired with a slice of homemade bread --- amazing.
Now, I get it -- you are thinking -- Sara...where are the vegetables? (I mean I assume you aren't counting the tomato sauce, although I probably would...) You can add in anything you'd like! When the kids were little I'd add in corn sometimes. We had a friend that added in peas like you could in a traditional goulash recipe. Honestly Matt would probably like black beans stirred in (I'm just not sure that I would!). Or, you can serve a salad or steamed veggies on the side.
Hope you enjoy --- this is one of my favorite cheat meals to cook because it is so stinking easy!