Mac 'n' Cheese: Friend or Foe? Either Way, Why Are We Attacking Each Other?

First, let me thank everyone who read this week’s Tuesday Timesaver. Thank you, thank you! I’m really honored that you took a few moments to check out the post. I hope it was helpful to you and if not, well, maybe another post will be more useful. It’s thrilling to have this opportunity to share the special experiences I’ve had cooking for my son with all of you. It truly makes my day when a reader tells me that I’ve helped her/him by offering a fresh idea or a delicious-sounding recipe. And when a mom actually makes the recipe and reports back on what her kids thought? Bliss! And, hey, if your kid doesn’t like a recipe, let me know. Your feedback might inspire a variation that other kids will like too. As for this morning’s post, I have to admit, some of the reactions to it really surprised me. When I decided to write about making a big batch of macaroni and cheese ahead and freezing the leftovers to save time on busy weeknights, I never imagined it would spark a debate. Or that debating the merits (or lack of merits) of mac ‘n’ cheese would lead to moms attacking other moms. Then I logged onto Facebook.

Here’s a snapshot of what some of you had to say. At last count, more than 200 of you say you “Like” the post (thank you, so happy you enjoyed it). Some moms had great ideas for jazzing up mac ‘n’ cheese. “We love mac and cheese at our house!,” said Casey. “I always add diced broccoli, carrots, or peas for veggies and sometimes tuna or chicken cubes to it too.” Other moms were excited to have a new dinner idea. “Will try it today!” Sandhya exclaimed earlier today; tonight she posted on Facebook that the recipe “came out perfect…My LO who was on a Sabbatical from eating finished her dinner plate clean.” Amanda also made the recipe tonight: “It was awesome!!!!!” she said. “My son went wild over it!!!!!” You made my night, Amanda and Sandhya! I’m delighted your kids enjoyed their mac ‘n’ cheese. Then there were the moms who weren’t quite so, um, enthusiastic. “I would never ever make that gross thing for my kid,” said one. Fair enough, you don’t have to. Another mom was opposed to feeding her kids frozen food, even if it’s homemade then frozen (this one perplexed me but to each is own).  Then there were the arguments ranging from food allergies to organic foods to vaccines between some of the moms who weighed in. Oy.

Of the 65 comments I’ve read so far, both positive and negative, only one bothered me–not because I felt that it was a personal attack but because it sounded to me like another way for a mom to judge other moms: “What a good idea if you’re too lazy or busy to cook a fresh hot meal!” Really? Moms who take cooking shortcuts from time to time are lazy? What about all the time they spent making the food in the first place? What about the fact that they’re invested in what their kids are eating? Even if dinner comes from a box or a jar, who are we to call another mom lazy? We judge other parents, especially moms, on so many issues–breastfeeeding, working outside the home, sending their kids to daycare, letting their kids cry it out a night and now we’re going to judge how they cook for their own kids? Really? In my opinion, if a mom is taking the time to make a meal that she feels is nutritious and that her kids will enjoy then she should be applauded. Hopefully she’ll even get to sit down and enjoy that meal with her kids.

So here’s a new idea for us all. What if we step back for a minute and give other moms a break? What if we invite another mom and her family over and enjoy a healthful meal together? What if we strike up a conversation with that mom on the playground who breastfeeds or bottle feeds or does the opposite of the ideal we’ve set for ourselves? What if we just stop criticizing each other and instead embrace the sisterhood that comes with bringing a new life into the world? The next time I’m at the playground or the baby gym or the local coffee shop where all the moms hang out on Sunday morning, I’m going to hold my judgements and be a better friend to the moms around me.  What about you?

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18 thoughts on “Mac 'n' Cheese: Friend or Foe? Either Way, Why Are We Attacking Each Other?

  1. Keep up the GREAT work, Heather! It can’t be easy, but try really hard to look past the negative comments.
    Most of the time I have to steer clear of “mom related” blogs, websites, etc. and I can’t EVER read the comments because they tend to go so quickly into the ditch. Some moms believe their child-rearing ways are the only way any mom should ever parent and have no tolerance for another family’s beliefs. It’s exhausting to live your life and raise your child the way every other mom sees fit when you and your husband are really the only ones who should get to weigh-in.

    It’s a shame that your great ideas and helpful suggestions are taken for anything more than that- an attempt to bolster another mom’s confidence in the kitchen. Again- kudos to you, Momma!

  2. People will always think their way is the only way. I enjoy your blog and have made several of your recipes, some successful, some not so much!

  3. Ann–Happy you enjoy the blog! Please do dish on which recipes weren’t successful. Might inspire a different variation that your kids (and others) would enjoy! It so hard to tell what they’ll eat…and it seems to change by the day:)

  4. Not a mom, but enjoyed reading your post. It would be nice if all moms took some time to cook something rather than always buying packaged foods for their baby.
    I am retired and have always enjoyed freshly cooked food compared to packaged.

    Your son will be a lot healthier for your efforts.

  5. Some people just can’t accept someone else’s opinion, I guess. There were some rude and judgmental comments on there that I just don’t understand (assuming the one mother doesn’t vaccinate just because she chooses gluten-free foods – what?!) or saying that feeding your child “special foods” will give you depression or anxiety. There’s no logic behind some of that stuff.

    We all want the best for our children, but why bash another mom who thinks what’s best for HER child(ren) isn’t what you think is best for YOURS?

    I personally loved this make-ahead mac idea because I’d never thought about freezing it. As I said on FB, mac and cheese is so versatile, so we can do as much or as little nutritionally as we’d like. I would love to try it with whole-wheat elbows (yum!), broccoli and chicken. It’s easier to get my 1-year-old to eat broccoli than my husband – lol.

    Thanks again for sharing the recipe, and for your ideas here. I’ll be sure to watch for your posts 🙂

  6. Other moms only judge because of their insecurities. Every mom knows what is best for their child and no one should tell another parent how to raise their child.

  7. I didn’t have the pleasure of reading the post that has the recipe but I agree that we all need to step back and stop judging. I myself am guilty of judging and will continue to try hard not too. Post like this one definitely helps put things back into perspective. Thank you!

  8. The Mac n Cheese straight from a box is so unhealthy in my opinion, however, if you serve homemade Mac n Cheese you can make it super healthy because you’re the one controlling the ingredients.

  9. I am so happy I stumbled onto your blog! And I loved this post! I, too, am guilty of occasionally getting on my high horse when it comes to parenting. It’s very easy to think that because you’re doing what a doctor or researcher tells you, you’re doing everything right and others should do the same. But it’s nice to be reminded that we are all human and do the best we can!

  10. Before I had my child, I always thought it was not “right” to give children cheetos, candy, chips, flavored milk, soda. Although I still don’t give my child those foods, there are other things I do that I am sure would make other mothers cringe (heck, it even makes my mom cringe) such as canned beans or cold cut meats. But it is so time-consuming to make from scratch when my child is eating them almost every day. And I wouldnt want to be judged on my methods, so I shouldn’t jugde mothers who give their children flavored milk, etc. We just need to remind ourselves that every mother truly loves their children and just because they do things you wouldnt doesn’t make you better or them worse.

    Ps Freezing Mac n cheese is a great idea! More ideas of how
    to cook healthy meals with a little down time would be helpful:)

  11. Bravo!

    We all have our own way of doing things, and parenting is no different!

    My friend has struggled greatly with her new baby who was born with a cleft palate. To be honest she is looking forward to her baby eating anything. Makes you think doesn’t it? Mac & cheese doesn’t really seem worth arguing over. Folks if you want to feed you children Mac and cheese then go for it, if you don’t?..then don’t. If my friend called and said ‘guess what I’ve just fed chloe Mac & cheese”, you know what I’d say? “Wow I’m so pleased Chloe has eaten!!”

    I’d possibly frame that damn piece of cheesy pasta.

    Bigs hugs to ALL mum’s out there. Being a parent is hard and I respect each and every one of you.

  12. I make my family homemade macaroni and cheese with whole wheat pasta and organic ingredients. And sometimes I just make a box of the stuff that comes with a package of powered cheese sauce! I have three kids, I’m an imperfect mom and I have confidence on my ability to love, nurture and nourish my kids. I don’t give a crap what anyone thinks of me or my food choices! Long live mac and cheese!

  13. You are sooo right. This judgment among mothers really chaps my butt (my new phrase). I have finally come to the conclusion after years of living with it and studying it that all moms are not created equal. Although we share a common experience we do not necessarily share a kinship – which is a shame. The mom judgment is a tale as old as time, that is, if someone is insecure in his or her choices, they feel compelled to hoist their opinion (stress, issues, baggage) on to others. What we feed our children has become the topic of choice most recently. My personal mom judgment favorite is the criticism of working moms…”They COULD stay at home if they simply cut back and made some changes”…Ugh! My response to this is always, why can a father be a father and be away from his kids all day? That response is usually met with silence. Keep up the good work..I’m off to make my mom’s famous mac & cheese, thanks for the dinner idea.

  14. personally I love the idea for this recipe and would love more recipes for make ahead and freeze dinners! I have 3 children ages 6,4 & 3, I work full time and go to school 3 nights a week… I can’t believe what people were saying in the comments, everyone has to do what they feel is best and who is anyone to judge. my 4yr old daughter is allergic to artificial food dye ,she gets hives, which makes buying anything for kids hard. it is unbelievable the things that have dyes in them! everything from waffles to cheese crackers! so I very much appreciate any make ahead recipes for kids! thanks for what you do!

  15. Thank you all for your thoughts. What a supportive group of moms we have here!

    Megan: Everything on this blog is make ahead. I only have one babe (how do you do it with THREE?) but I work so making a bunch of food ahead for the week and freezing it helps me give my son good, healthy meals every day!

  16. I couldn’t agree more! Unless you have walked a mile in another mother’s shoes, you have no right to judge. You never know what battle another mom is fighting!

  17. Exactly how is homemade mac and cheese not “fresh and hot”? I am assuming here that you are not serving it as frozen mac&cheese on a stick, as you do mention heating it.

    Frozen vegetables are flash-frozen and keep their nutrients. A pasta dish which is immediately frozen and quickly reheated also keeps it nutrients and is hot. What I find to be the beauty is that one can do the prep while the little one is sleeping and then quickly heat while baby is awake. The goal, as I saw it, was not time-saving as it was sensible time use.

    Why would one want to be preparing meals when one could be interacting with the baby? My “baby” is in her 20s now, but have things changed to the point that people would rather be slaving over organic raw foods than interacting with the little ones?

    That seems very strange to me–of course, my daughter makes dinner for me, now, and I guess I might be sentimental about the times when I could lift her up and tote her around. Still–what isn’t “fresh and hot” about the meal you suggest?

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