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Next Steps Mac ‘n’ Cheese

Claire Wright

In season now


Pasta (macaroni or other small pasta shape)

White sauce (homemade or low-salt shop bought)

Grated cheese (a small handful per person)

Grated cheese (a small handful per person)


We suggest you do this in stages, slowly, and go as far as works for your family, here’s how your final recipe might come together…


  1. Cook your pasta according to packet instructions, but cook 1-2 mins less than the packet says. Drain and put it back in the saucepan with the white sauce, cheese and frozen veg. Heat through until cheese is melted and sauce is hot.

  2. If you want to do a full “pasta bake” mac ‘n’ cheese, you can stir the sauce and veg through the cooked pasta in a casserole dish and top with the cheese, then pop into an oven preheated to 200C/gas 6 for 20 mins until golden and bubbling – it adds that lovely golden layer we all love on mac ‘n’ cheese!

  3. Want to make your own white sauce but don’t have time or energy for a full-blown bechamel recipe? You can make an extra-quick white sauce by mixing 2 tbsp cornflour with 2 tbsp milk in a bowl, heating another 400ml milk in a large saucepan and stirring through the cornflour paste, then just simmering for a few mins until thick. Stir through pasta and cheese and you’re done!

  4. If using fresh veg, you will need to cook until softened first, usually in a little oil over a low-medium heat until soft, or simmered in boiling water until just starting to soften. Great veg here could include: broccoli or cauliflower florets (simmer), diced sweet potato or squash (simmer), sliced onions, peppers and/or mushrooms (fry), sliced courgette (fry), sliced green beans (simmer), sliced leeks (fry) … Alternatively, you could do some veg on the side like rocket or shredded iceberg lettuce, or some green beans cooked and tossed in minced garlic and butter!

  5. If using frozen veg, just check packet instructions, but it should be find being stirred through the pasta and sauce before heating, especially if you are going to put it in the oven for 20 mins! Great choices here could be: frozen broccoli or cauliflower (thaw first and drain as they can be quite watery and make the sauce split otherwise), peas, sweetcorn, mixed veg, whole leaf or chopped spinach (thaw first so you can stir through properly without clumps), sliced mushrooms, diced sweet potato or squash… 
Engaging Kids

Engaging Kids

Kids who engage regularly with veg through veg-themed activities, such as arts and crafts, sensory experiences, growing and cooking are shown to be more likely to eat the veg they engage with. Encouraging kids to engage and play with veg is the handy first step to them developing a good relationship with veg and life-long healthy eating. Find out more here.

Kids in the kitchen

Kids in the kitchen

Have younger kids help you grate cheese, measure out dry pasta, stirring the macaroni and cheese sauce together, and chucking a couple of handfuls of your chosen veg in.

Older kids might be ready to learn how to chop some fresh veg to add in, stir everything together in the pan, or make a salad to go on the side!

Master these skills:

Grating,  Mixing,  Bridge chopping,  Claw chopping


Use arts & crafts as a stepping stone to interacting with the veg themselves. While your mac ‘n’ cheese bakes, why not set a child up with:

Peas Veg Crown

Peas – Cutout ‘n Colour

Boxing Peas Puzzle

Escapeas Game

Peadoku Puzzle

Find more arts & crafts and puzzles & games on our website.



Why not start with a few peas and get them to describe what they feel – does it remind them of anything? Maybe it feels like a handful of pebbles or a crocodile’s bumpy nose. See if they want to chuck some into the mac ‘n’ cheese after having engaged with them.

Watch Ruth Platt’s video on sensory activities with peas for more inspiration, or get more tips, games and videos over on our Sensory page.



Why not let your child come up with a silly name for the mac ‘n’ cheese. Perhaps they’ll appreciate an addition of some colourful veg like broccoli or peas to give them more to work with for an imaginative name and story. Make sure to praise them and use the name for the dinner when you serve it – see if they can come up with a story to go with it they can tell over dinner, too, it may encourage them to try some of it with the veg in!

Get more ideas over on our Roles for Kids page.

Claire Wright

Editor: After leaving Exeter University with a degree in English Literature, Claire worked in various fields ranging from youth work and charities to publishing, before starting up a food-focused website when her first child was born. After being asked to project manage the publication of Veg Power's Crowdfunder book, Claire came on board as a fully-fledged team member in 2018 to take on the role of Communications Manager, then Editor, looking after Veg Power's website, content, recipes and social media platforms.

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