Saturday 30 April 2016

Making Macaroni Cheese With A Toddler - Recipe

Making Macaroni Cheese With A Toddler - Recipe text on picture of Macaroni Cheese

Making Macaroni Cheese with a toddler. Impossible you think, well you'd be wrong! OK it does take a lot bit longer but where were you going anyway? I look at it like messy play. I expect a mess, I want Bear to actually get involved. I hate the cleaning up after but unlike messy play you at least have a meal at the end.

Just remember this is a recipe for ONE toddler, if you have more than one I have no idea how you can keep an eye on what they are doing and cook. Takeaways and ready meals are your only answer!

Making Macaroni Cheese With A Toddler - Recipe

To serve 2 hungry adults and 1 toddler.

Quick Method                                                                              

Omit Toddler.                                                  
Preparation:  15 mins                                                                  
Cook:           20 mins                                                                 

Slow method

Add one Toddler
Preparation:   60+ mins
Cook:            20 mins
Cleanup:        infinite


ONE toddler, this cannot be up-sized see note above
200g Tube Pasta for example Penne, Macaroni
500ml full fat milk (I didn't have enough so used half semi skimmed, came out great)
120g mature cheddar
40g butter
40g plain flour
1 bay leaf
1 onion, peeled and cut in half
1 clove of garlic peeled and cut in half
Handful of fresh breadcrumbs
A little Parmesan Cheese

Quick Method.

Put toddler down for a nap or give to someone else.

1. Boil pasta until al dente (soft but still with a little bite). Rinse in cold water. While pasta is cooking heat milk, onion, garlic and bay leaf. Before it boils turn off heat and infuse for 10 mins
2. Make roux. Melt butter add flour cook for a minute over low heat stirring all the time. Strain milk and gradually add milk to roux, continue stirring all the time. Cook for 4-5 minutes stir occasionally.
3. Pre heat oven to 190c/170c fan/gas 5
4. Take sauce off heat and stir in grated cheese. Mix with pasta and put into oven proof dish. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and grated Parmesan.
5. Cook for 20 mins. Eat.

Slow Method.

1. Collect all the ingredients. Let your toddler collect everything within their reach while you weigh ingredients. I asked Bear to bring me potatoes even though there are none in the recipe. Kept him busy for ages.

Making Macaroni Cheese With A Toddler - Recipe. Toddler leaning into drawer and onions on the floor

2. Let toddler examine all ingredients and repeat names again and again. Give toddler spoon to hit things with. Put pasta on to cook.

Making Macaroni Cheese With A Toddler - Recipe. toddler looking at cheese packet

3. Grate cheese. Let toddler weigh everything while you are peeling and cutting onion and garlic in half.

toddlers finger pressing button on digital scale with bowl of cheese on scale

4. While toddler is eating cheese warm milk.

grated cheese in pot on worksurface toddler eating cheese

5. Stop milk from boiling over, never mind no-one will notice the burnt bits.

milk with bay, leaf, onion in saucepan

6. Make roux. Toddler can play with onions whilst you do this.

saucepan with butter and flour mixed into roux

toddlers hand on an onion

7. Make sauce. Toddler needs to be occupied for a few minutes while you do this. I asked Bear to pull all the little shoots from the potatoes and put them in the bin, this gave me enough time to make a lumpy sauce. Small lumps really won't notice, this is a very forgiving dish, big lumps? Try a whisk or just strain it.

sauce in pan with spoon and drops of sauce on worksurface

8. Mix sauce with pasta. Toddler could help with stirring but Bear was still pulling eyes from potatoes.

pasta strained in saucepan

9. Put mixture into dish. Check where toddler is and why they are so quiet.

pasta and sauce in oven proof dish

10. Sprinkle breadcrumbs and cheese on top. Give more cheese to toddler to keep their hands out of pasta dish

dish complete with breadcrumbs and cheese on top

toddler close up eating cheese

11. Put dish in oven and cry at state of kitchen and sink.

sink full of pans, lids, strainers, couple of bits of pasta.

12. Remove dish after 20 mins and feel big rush of achievement. Do not look at sink still full of pans.

Macaroni Cheese all brown and looking delicious

13. Dish up a portion for toddler to eat. Bear refused, he was full up with cheese.

small portion of pasta on white plate

I didn't add salt as Bear was sharing this but it needed just a little added at the table.

Do you cook with a toddler? It is hard work and doesn't always go to plan (see lumpy sauce) but it is great fun.

What's your favourite dish to cook with a toddler? I'd love to read about them in the comments.



  1. Ha distraction technique. Love that you asked him to get the potatoes!

  2. Such a classic and fulling meal and pretty easy for little ones to help out with - I still need to try this with my one year old who loves tomato pasta so I am sure this would be a hit

    Laura x

    1. I thought so too but he wouldn't try it...oh well another time.

  3. Yum! I love macaroni cheese, how cute are your photo's of bear helping you out? Thanks so much for joining in with #letslearn I hope to see you again this week xx


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