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How To Make A Child-Approved Pasta That is Not Chef Boyardee in Under 30 Minutes


The '90s classic recipe. Beef-a-roni, but from a can, a classic staple in my house. Chef Boyardee was the best option other than Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. Some greens on the side, my mom was all about balance. Twinkies and other Hostess treats for dessert and Dreyers Ice Cream.


For your child’s dinner, instead of spaghetti and meatballs, take this recipe for a simmer. Get it? Simmer? Tomato Sauce. PUNNY.


Here is what you need to make scratch Beef-A-Roni:


• 1 pound of ziti pasta

• 1 teaspoon of olive oil

• 1 pound of ground beef lean or extra lean

• 1 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt

• 1 teaspoon of sugar

• 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper

• 1/2 teaspoon of granulated garlic

• 3 1/4 cup of chopped tomatoes

• 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese

• 15 ounces of tomato sauce

• 2 cups water

• 3 tablespoons of lemon juice, freshly squeezed.


Here are the simplified steps of the recipe. As I say, simplicity is key:

1. Cook pasta

2. Brown ground beef

3. Heat chopped tomatoes

4. Blend beef and tomatoes

5. Make beef-a-roni.


Our Financials


To gather ingredients, shopping at Walmart and Sam’s Club was necessary. Walmart shopping was necessary because of all the ingredients minus the beef. Sam’s Club because five pounds of 90/10 beef for only 15 dollars is a steal. Am I right?


So here is the financial breakdown of the ingredients cost for scratch beef-a-roni:


• Ziti pasta- $0.78 from Walmart

• Olive oil- $9.54 from Walmart

• Ground beef lean or extra lean- $15.46 from Sam’s Club

• Kosher salt- already had the salt

• Sugar- $2.14 from Walmart

• Black pepper- already had the pepper

• Granulated garlic- already had the garlic

• Chopped tomatoes- $2.48 from Walmart

• Cheddar cheese- $7.14 from Walmart

• Tomato sauce- $1.88 from Walmart

• Water- free from my sink

• Lemon juice, freshly squeezed- already had the lemons


The total cost breakdown for Beef-A-Roni is give or take $27.05. Reason why I say give or take is because I bought two pounds of cheddar cheese, you will not use two pounds of cheese. I mean take that as a challenge or not because you cannot go wrong with extra cheese. I also say give or take because I had to buy new olive oil and it literally took me almost two years to go through the bottle. Finally, I had some spices already but typically spices at Walmart are priced at $0.98 each. Not too bad for spices, as long as you go for the Walmart brand. Some spices will cost a little more because of specialty, but the basics, you can find Great Value brands.


Shopping for these ingredients at the cheapest value is always the goal. Not having to pay more for the ingredients, and potentially earning return money or points for future investments is always a concept at the back of my mind.


Those Millennial Cash Back Applications


Here is how I did while shopping for these ingredients:


Ibotta was a hit and a miss, I actually struck out for the ingredients, there was hardly an cash back for the Beef-A Roni. The only offer was any brand items like cheese. I got 10 cents cash back for any brand of cheese. In reality, I paid $7.04 for the cheese. Furthermore, I did earn $13.95 for other items such as alcohol, any item, protein bars, and collagen. Oh well, the gamble of cash back applications. At least, I earned some money back for some items regarding Beef-A-Roni.


Fetch Rewards was a better application for me today. I earned 75 points from two receipts. I earned 50 points from Walmart and 25 points from Sam’s Club. Done worse, done better. So I will take this mediocrity in stride.


For walking into Walmart, I got 10 kicks for just walking in to the store. Shopkick typically does not have the products I shop for, I earn kicks by walking to the store and watching

their promotional videos. Though, Sam’s Club does not have walk-in kicks so I did not earn any extra by shopping.


For my penny rewards from Coinout, I earned a total of six cents. For my Walmart receipts, I earned two cents and Sam’s Club earned me four more cents. Again done worse done better. Taking that claim of mediocrity in stride.



Our Ratings


My Rating: I was obsessed with Beef-a-roni when I was a kid. Secret though; it was not pure beef which was basically what made beef-a-roni, am I right? Sooo having the real beef be a part of beef-a-roni did not totally jive well with my taste buds. Definitely not as processed as I remember. Which is the goal right? Sooo with me, I would rate this dish a 6 out of 10. Now being an adult, I was season the shit out of the meat before I would put the beef in beef-a-roni and add more spices to the beef-a-roni.


Shayne’s Rating: For once in a blue moon, Shayne and I agree. He rates the beef-a-roni a 6 out of 10 because the dish is plain jane. Next time, I make this dish especially because we love flavor, spice the shit outta food preferably the meat. Throw some Italian seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, and parsley. Actually throw in some onions as well.

Beef-a-roni. To think, last August, I bought a package of ground beef because I wanted to either make burgers or meatballs. What did I do? Scramble the beef into submission and add tomato sauce. Nothing else. I made super-chunky meat sauce, to think if I got into the Gilmore Girls cookbooks sooner…could have made Beef-a-Roni back then.


So we actually get to have beef-a-roni with actual beef. Much better than what other processed pasta dishes that I have seen or had back in the ‘90s because that pasta would be lasting a whole entire year. Time to recreate your childhood memories in your kitchen. Now class up your childhood favorite and enjoy! In addition, now being a grown up I am able to recreate a more spice-filled version of beef-a-roni. I will keep you posted!



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