Written by Garrett Peacy, Dietetic Intern, University of Minnesota


In a constantly busy world it can be difficult to find the time to prepare a healthy and delicious meal. Because of this, many people resort to take-out or eating out at restaurants, which can begin to take a toll on the bank account. Although more affordable options such as prepared and packaged meals get a bad rap in the media, there are simple ways to improve the nutrition of many packaged foods without much additional money or time.

Macaroni and cheese is a staple across the country as an affordable and filling option. An easy way to increase any packaged pasta is to add a lean protein and a variety of vegetable. The inspiration for this spin on Mac and Cheese is from another American classic, Broccoli cheddar soup. Broccoli cheddar soup not only contains broccoli but also often contains carrots and chicken to make it a hearty meal with some bread for dipping.


Did you know?

Although the credit for the invention of macaroni and cheese is often given to Thomas Jefferson,  it was actually James Hemings who adapted the French dish of pasta and cheese. James Hemings was first American to train as a chef in France. Hemings, originally a slave owned by Thomas Jefferson, obtained his freedom in 1796 after training a replacement chef for Thomas Jefferson. Hemings could read, write and speak both English and French. His handwritten kitchen notes can be found on display at the Library of Congress.


Broccoli is a nutrient dense food that is rich source of both vitamin C and vitamin K. Other important nutrients that can be found in broccoli include B vitamins and fiber.


Carrots are fiber rich and nutrient dense food loaded with many different vitamins and minerals. They are well know for their high vitamin A content in the form of beta carotene and are also good sources of vitamin B6 and vitamin K


Leans meats such as chicken are good sources of protein necessary for proper health particularly muscular strength and repair of different body tissues. Consuming chicken is also a good way to get iron, a mineral necessary for good health. Chicken is also a good source of vitamin B5.