These healthy macaroni cheese muffins with cauliflower are great for lunchboxes and can be eaten hot or cold. Perfect for picky eaters with a portion of hidden veg.
In need of healthy lunch box ideas?
It’s back to school next week for my kids and for the first time in a few years I’m going to be packing a daily lunch box. Until now my kids have had free hot school lunches every day and while we could continue to receive these if we chose to pay for them, my seven-year-old son is desperate to have a packed lunch instead. I’ve agreed on one condition – that he tries some new things.
One of those new things is these cauliflower macaroni cheese muffins. My son would prefer to eat these hot but at his school there’s no facility for heating food up – I may try sending them in a Thermos and see how that goes. I think they’re pretty tasty cold though.
Can these macaroni cheese muffins be frozen?
Yes, these cauliflower macaroni cheese muffins also freeze well, just take them out of the freezer the night before and they’ll be ready by lunchtime. Plus, with a portion of hidden veg they’re a great choice for picky eaters. Getting a portion of veg into my son’s lunchbox (or at least one that doesn’t come home uneaten) is a big challenge for us and these lunchbox muffins really hit the spot.
They’re also great for weaning
I’ve also discovered that cooking these in muffin tins and freezing them means that they are the perfect size for baby or toddler muffins – 12 little portions of lunch stored in the freezer for those moments when hunger strikes and you don’t have a plan.
What do you use to make macaroni cheese muffins?
I have some little silicone cupcake cases* which are perfect for popping these into lunch boxes to keep them intact. I also baked these in a silicone muffin tin* to make them easier to remove. If you’re using a silicone tin it’s a good idea to put it on a baking tray before filling them up as it’s easier to get it in and out of the oven this way. If you don’t have a silicone tin you can use a regular muffin tin, but you’ll need to grease it very well.
Here’s how to make healthy macaroni cheese muffins with cauliflower:
Cauliflower macaroni cheese
- 170 g macaroni or similar small pasta shape use wholemeal for extra nutritional value
- 200 g cauliflower broken into florets
- 25 g butter
- 1 tbsp plain flour
- 500 ml milk
- 100 g cheddar cheese grated
- 50 g breadcrumbs
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (fan)/200°C/gas mark 6.
Grease or spray your muffin tin with oil or a non-stick cooking spray. Alternatively use a silicone muffin tin. If you use a silicone one I find it helps to place it on a baking tray to make it easier to transport when full.
Steam or boil the cauliflower until soft.
Bring a pan of water to the boil and add the macaroni. Cook according to the packet instructions until al dente.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Stir through the flour and whisk in the milk. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and cook, stirring often, for around five minutes. Don't worry about the sauce thickening too much as you want it to be on the runny side for macaroni cheese.
Remove from the heat and add the cheese. Stir until melted.
Add the cooked cauliflower to the sauce and blend until smooth.
Drain the pasta when cooked and add to the sauce, mixing well.
Pour into your muffin tin, sprinkle over the breadcrumbs and bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes.
Allow to cool completely in the tin before removing otherwise they'll fall apart.
Store in the fridge or freezer.
If you like this you might also like my hidden vegetable macaroni cheese recipe.
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