This 15-minute macaroni and cheese is one of the school lunches I fall back on easily. I only make it once in a while, but it’s a kid favorite, the creamy cheese sauce keeping the pasta hot until lunchtime.
Our day starts as the sun rises. Alarms blare. (To my neighbors, I apologize for Ole’s alarm. He leaves the windows open and then takes a good 20 minutes for the blaring to awaken him from his comatose state. It’s obnoxious, I know.)
The smallest member of our household usually wakes with the alarms, victorious over the nighttime potty training demons. Cheers of encouragement and pride are heard, and then a small amount of work is attempted.
In no time, bleary-eyed children start to emerge from the warm covers, slowly dragging their pajama-clad bodies to the living room, a final stretch and then collapsing onto the couch, ready(?) to start a new day.
By 7:30 a.m. we have reached crunch time. Pajamas are replaced with t-shirts and jeans – skirts for the kindergartener, though you’d think with all the scrapes and scabs she has on her legs, she’d start to see the practicality of pants. The next 30 minutes is a whirl of breakfast, brushing teeth and hair, repacking backpacks and then moving to the business of lunches. Then the door is opened, and out they run to wait for the school bus at the end of the driveway, which leaves the youngest in tears, heartbroken he can’t join his older siblings and go off to school.
Four days in, I can tell you that while the adjustment for the kids has been rather easy, happily running off to school and coming home with stories to tell, the shift has me feeling a bit scattered and tattered.
Trying to get back into the swing of things yesterday, we made one of our favorite school lunches. It takes only 15 minutes, and while the pasta is cooking, I stuffed garden fresh tomatoes, cherries and dried mangoes into lunchboxes, filled the water bottles and made sure teeth were brushed and children were presentable. Plus, the kids came home, all with empty lunch boxes, and that is what I define success as these days.
Early morning cooking with the kids. Melt butter and whisk in flour to make a roux.
Cook it a bit and then slowly add milk and then cream cheese.
Cheddar cheese hits next and is stirred until melty. All that’s left is adding our cooked pasta and filling the Thermos containers.
Little Lene’s lunch. She makes me smile with every kindergarten story she tells, and I’m still a bit sad to have lost my daytime cooking partner.
Warm and fuzzy lunch feelings are sent off with the kids, and one is tucked away at home for a very lonely little Magnus, who saw me editing the photo of the kids’ first day of school up above and started telling me how they were gone and how he wants to play with them in a very sad little boy voice.
What have you been packing for school lunches so far? Check out some of our methods to curb the madness in The Art of Packing School Lunches.
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tablespoons cream cheese
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside. In a medium saucepan melt butter over medium heat until bubbly. Slowly whisk in the flour and continue cooking for 1-2 minutes, whisking continuously, until the roux turns golden. Slowly whisk in the milk until all is incorporated. Cook until thick, 1-2 minutes.
Stir in cream cheese until melted. Remove from heat and stir in grated cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring to melt. Season to taste. Serve immediately or pack into preheated insulated containers to enjoy at lunch.
Makes 4 servings.
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