Dollar Tree keeps food throughout the store, including candies, snacks, and even some frozen stuff. There are also some dry goods, including the staple of processed food, macaroni and cheese. Our Dollar Tree keeps some of the name brand Kraft stuff, but it also stocks a couple of variations of generic mac and cheese, too.
I decided to try it out.
Classic Kitchen Deluxe Mac and Cheese Dinner comes in a 12-ounce box with pasta and a liquid cheese packet. That’s right: there’s no powder, so no need to add milk or butter or any of that. Even accounting for the liquid packet, there is more pasta in this box than your typical 7 ounces (and some change) that you get in a Kraft box. Like everything in Dollar Tree, this box costs a dollar.
The preparation instructions are mostly what you’re used to seeing: boil the noodles in water for 10 minutes or so, drain, then add the cheese goo. The stovetop instructions call for boiling the noodles in 8 cups of water, which is more than I’m used to seeing on mac and cheese boxes. I’m more accustomed to 6 cups … which is as much as my saucepan holds anyway, so that’s the way I went. (A lot of people — including my wife — just eyeball the water, so it may not matter.) The noodles came out fine, by the way.
I put the box through a taste test with a family of four, and to be honest we were a little surprised. The stuff is pretty comparable to other mac and cheeses we’ve had: in other words, it’s pretty decent, actually. It’s maybe a little light on sauce compared to some shells and cheese we’ve had, but not overly so. The texture of the pasta is fine, and the taste is cheesy and salty enough to not need much doctoring beyond maybe a little pepper, if that’s your taste.
Is this stuff bad for you? You bet. One quarter of the box has a whopping 315 calories, plus enough sodium to cure beef. (I’m exaggerating. Probably.) The fat content isn’t anything to be proud of, either, to say nothing of the obvious carbs. Kraft mac and cheese isn’t particularly healthy, either, but the Dollar Tree mac is a step over and above, especially on the salt content.
I set a pretty low bar for a box of generic mac and cheese from Dollar Tree, but Classic Kitchen Deluxe Mac and Cheese Dinner was actually decent. It serves up easily, has good texture, and is flavorful, if maybe a bit light on cheese. That flavor comes at the expense of a sky-high sodium count, though, so even by mac and cheese standards this is something to eat, at best, in moderation.