Mac n’ cheese: it’s the cheaper alternative to delivery pizza to get you through your college years. For many, it’s a period in their life when they live solely on cheesy goodness.
Whether it’s a late night snack, a last minute dinner, a momentary study break or even breakfast (no judgment here), you’ll probably taste mac n’ cheese sometime in your life. So I’ve ranked some of the most popular brands for you. All prices are from Smith’s.
7. Kroger, 4/$5 for the medium-sized box
This brand is a step down from Kraft. It’s off-brand Kraft, which makes it the cheapest. This is basically fake cheese. Sure it’s cheap, but mac n’ cheese is not so expensive to begin with, and Kroger tastes as though it’s made entirely of synthetic chemicals.
6. Kraft individual cups, $1 each
For a lot of people Kraft is reminiscent of their childhood, but I think nostalgia is clouding their judgment. When I eat Kraft it’s just kind of meh. It’s not super cheesy, it doesn’t taste like it’s made from real ingredients and even the noodles are just boring little tubes. I would also like to point out that the flavor on the label is not cheddar, it’s “original,” which isn’t a food. Who knows what that word means.
5. Amy’s, $3.29 a box
This is organic brand offers gluten and dairy free options which are all pretty tasty. The downside is you don’t get nearly as much food for the price compared to the other brands.
4. Daiya, $4.69 a box
When I had to go gluten and dairy free, this brand of pasta was my go-to meal. Daiya macaroni tastes like real sharp cheese and I always get two meals out of one box, which brings the cost down to $2.30 per meal. I like the somewhat aged flavor this cheese has, but if you are a Kraft person making a switch to vegan, you might prefer Amy’s over Daiya.
3. Annie’s medium-sized boxes, 10/$10
This brand makes a variety of flavors and it makes me feel like I am still eating sort of healthy. It has a lot of organic options and even a protein pasta. I generally get two meals out of a box, if I’m not starving when I make it. However, I don’t love Annie’s aged cheddar. I prefer the white cheddar from this particular brand.
2. Velveeta, about $1 for the single cups
This is my favorite cheesy punch of goodness. Velveeta knows how to do smooth and thick cheese, which tastes great. That said, I know a lot of people don’t like Velveeta and would prefer Kraft’s “original” flavor. There’s pretty much nothing healthy about Velveeta’s mac n’ cheese, but your soul is happy when you eat it. In college, sometimes that’s as good as it gets.
1. Cracker Barrel, $4.99 per large-sized box
This is my all-time favorite brand. It’s the most expensive, yes, but its flavors are awesome and are made from real food. Cracker Barrel has the cheesy punch of Velveeta and the natural ingredients of Annie’s. Its sauce is fairly thick and the leftovers still taste good the next day. Cracker Barrel only has four flavors, but I like them all. The best is the white cheddar and parmesan.
So there you have it. Cracker Barrel is the best mac n’ cheese, and a lot of students probably haven’t even tried it. Although the price is somewhat of a deterrent, just know you might not want to go back to cheaper mac once you taste higher quality brands. If you are vegan or have dietary restrictions, my personal number one go-to is Daiya, so don’t feel left out. Otherwise, give Cracker Barrel a try. Remember, when finals get you down or you’re drowning in homework, sometimes all you need to get through it is a warm, gooey bite of mac n’ cheese. Good luck this year, and come back next week for more foodie thoughts and fun distractions. ‘Cause who does their homework anyway?