Whoever invented instant macaroni and cheese should get a medal, but whoever decided to substitute colored plastic for cheese should be exiled. We tested five cheap varieties of instant cheesy gratification to help you choose the best late-night comfort snack without breaking a sweat or the bank.
5. Everyday Essentials Mac & Cheese ($0.89 per cup)
This is the cheapest instant macaroni and cheese you can buy from Jewel, and hey, you get what you pay for. While the noodles are tender, there's a slight aftertaste of the container and the watery sauce tastes like a dusty memory of long lost cheese.
4. Velveeta Shells & Cheese ($1.19 per cup)
Ok, so this isn't strictly mac and cheese, but the shells actually picked up cheese about as well as instant macaroni. Velveeta's cheese sauce is a paste, rather than a powder. This is an upgrade that really shows when you mix it with the noodles because the sauce actually strings a little like real cheese would. The pasta, however, is nothing special, and the sauce isn't quite as cheesy you might hope.
Oh, Easy Mac... There's something to be said for this go-to instant mac's consistency, even though it's not extraordinary. The noodles have a reasonable bite, and the sauce is just cheesy enough to satisfy a small craving. Surprisingly, the powdered sauce is actually cheesier than the Velveeta sauce and just as stringy.
2. Trader Joe's Wisconsin Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese ($0.99 per box)
Even though Trader Joe's doesn't have instant macaroni and cheese in a cup, their boxed version microwaves and is convenient enough for a quick snack. The macaroni was significantly better than the other competitors. However, the cheese sauce is nothing special. While it is smoother than Easy Mac sauce, the flavor is a bit too mellow. In the end, the noodles make up for it, and you get much more per box for your money.