Last Updated on February 22, 2022
Boxed macaroni and cheese is one of the ultimate convenience foods. It’s fairly inexpensive and shelf stable, so it lasts a long time in the pantry, and it’s easy to make even if you don’t have much in the way of cooking skills.
There are usually two kinds of boxed mac and cheeses. First, there are the ones with powdered cheese packets that require additional ingredients such as milk and butter. Second, there are mac and cheeses that require no extra ingredients; all you do is squeeze the goopy cheese packet onto the cooked noodles.
The kind of macaroni and cheese that doesn’t need milk or butter typically costs more, but that’s balanced by the fact that you literally only need water in order to make it. This makes it especially ideal for camping or for cooking on a gas- or propane-powered stove during a power outage. It’s also good for donating to food pantries because recipients don’t need extra milk or butter to make it. It’s a self-contained meal. (Even if it isn’t the healthiest.)
Dollar General sells both kinds of macaroni and cheese. They sell mac and cheese with the powered cheese mix for 50 cents a box, or for $1.50 a box — three times as much — you can buy mac and cheese with the cheese sauce included.
Clover Valley Deluxe Macaroni & Cheese cost $1.50 for a 14-ounce box at the time of publication. This seems comparable — or even slightly more — to what I’ve paid for similar boxes of macaroni and cheese at other retailers such as Aldi. A similar box of Great Value macaroni and cheese cost just a few cents more at Walmart at the time of publication.
The Clover Valley mac and cheese is made with real cheddar cheese and contains no synthetic colors. It was packaged in the U.S.
If you’re looking out for allergens, this contains milk and wheat.
One box has about four servings, and a single 1-cup prepared serving (3.5 ounces, or 99 grams) has 320 calories, 9 grams of total fat (12% DV), 2 grams of saturated fat (10% DV), 10 mg of cholesterol (3% DV), 650 mg of sodium (28% DV), 48 grams of total carbohydrates (18% DV), 2 grams of dietary fiber (6% DV), 4 grams of total sugars, no added sugars, and 11 grams of protein.
To prepare the macaroni and cheese, add macaroni to 8 cups of boiling water. Stir. Boil rapidly, stirring occasionally, for 11-12 minutes or until noodles reach desired tenderness. Drain and add the cheddar cheese sauce. Mix well. Refrigerate any leftovers.
This mac and cheese was surprisingly good. It’s creamy and has a mild cheese flavor. It’s not as cheesy-tasting as name-brand macaroni and cheese, but the cheese flavor is still there, and there is plenty of sauce to coat the noodles. The cheese sauce is not brightly colored, perhaps reflective of the fact that this contains no synthetic colors. One family member remarked that they like name-brand Kraft macaroni and cheese the best, but they still liked this dollar store version. In fact, when I served this as a side during dinner time, everyone eagerly ate it and jockeyed for the last bit of pasta in the pan. I’d call that a win.
Clover Valley Deluxe Macaroni & Cheese includes everything you need to make a pot of pasta: uncooked noodles and a packet of cheese sauce. It’s easy to make, and while my family said they prefer name-brand Kraft mac and cheese, they still ate all of this mac and cheese in a hurry and had good things to say about it. If you want boxed macaroni and cheese, don’t write this one off just because it’s a store brand.