stouffers-macaroni-and-beef

In Defense of Stouffer’s Frozen “Macaroni & Beef”

Enough tiptoeing around the issue. I’m going to come right out and say it. Stouffer’s brand Macaroni & Beef with Tomatoes is the best godamned frozen dinner you can ever eat. Ever. All right, naysayers, I hear what you’re saying, with your wailing protests of Hungry Man XXL “Backyard BBQ,” and Kid Cuisine “Fiesta Beef Taco Dippers,” but no. You’re wrong. Stouffer’s hearty mix of tomatoes, beef, and elbow macaroni is the only acceptable thing that could ever come out of your microwave. Ready in just four minutes, and weighing it at only 330 calories and 700,000 grams of sodium, this one is a delight to all the senses. I like to microwave mine a little too long, so I get a nice crust around the rim. Mix in some red pepper flakes, crack a Shipyard Pumpkinhead, and you’ve got a delicious ten minutes in front of you, my friend.

It is important to always keep a backup box on the bottom shelf in the freezer, what my Dad used to refer to as his “emergency” stash of macaroni and beef, for a delicious emergency that he never explained, and that never seemed to arrive. Always, always, always have at least two boxes on hand. Why two? Because you need one as a liferaft. You can even write “For Emergency Use Only” on it in black Sharpie, but that’s just me. If you only have one, then you will never eat it. Because if you eat it, it will be gone. And then you won’t be able to eat it.

On the surface, this may look like that “American Chop Suey” made-up food, that government-issued canned gruel that used to get ice cream-scooped onto your tray in the fourth grade. But it’s not, and I dare you to try and make it from scratch. It can’t be accomplished. “Oh, but Malcolm,” I imagine you saying, “You can just mix some hamburger into a box of macaroni and cheese!” Well, sir, such an imaginary response makes me want to smack your imaginary face. You think I haven’t tried that? It’s not the same thing, not by a long shot. I’ve looked at the attempted recipe knockoffs online. I’ve even tried buying every item on the ingredient list (except, of course, for the dextrose, cultured whey, and other items generally unavailable to home cooks), in an effort to bulk-replicate the results found in this tiny plastic tray. But no. There is no replicating this synthetic food magic, this mix of flavors, the zip of the tomatoes, the hearty chunks of beef. It’s bliss in a tiny red box.

Comments

  1. Teddy says

    My nine year old loves box mac n cheese. Some of them are very good.

    This macaroni and beef dish is what I call beefaroni. A friend’s Mom would make a vat of it from scratch and feed scores of us. One fall day I was fondy remembering this and made a batch. It was easy and delicious. Another bulk dish she would make in the cold weather was corn chowder. Oh and they were Mainers.

    • Teddy says

      I just ate a box. It was delish. The secret ingredient is chili sauce. This is not what it sounds like, it’s kind of a sweet ketchup, old fashioned – it was a goto condiment for my Grandmother, who was born about 1890.

  2. patty says

    I try every week to find Stauffer’s Macaroni & Beef. Boy, is it hard to find. You are so correct!!! It’s wonderful.

  3. JDP says

    I couldn’t agree more, although I think the chili sauce may be on the rite track………
    We usually have some in the frige or on the shelf but of course, when it really counts, it’s not there. Oh the frustration of it all.
    Here’s to frozen magic and our attempts to duplicate it!

    • Tim Parker says

      Actually you can order it through food service companies (Sysco or US Foodservice). It comes in huge aluminum trays like the lasagna. You just need a restaurant connection to buy it.

  4. Matzoh Heppelwhite says

    Your article refers to Stouffer’s Macaroni & Beef as having “only
    700,000 grams of sodium.”
    That should be enough to induce an instant stroke!

  5. joanna says

    i’m sitting here eating my favorite u know what and grinning from ear to ear. i’m from michigan and fell in love w/it in MY grade school cafeteria. it was Wednesdays and i made my mom give me 35cents to ‘buy’ that day. i was 7 in 1957! i too have tried to duplicate with no luck….boo hoo. i am glad to see there are some traditions that are being passed on! lol.

  6. Marge says

    I absolutely love the stuff, too. I make my own version, but Stouffer’s is totally different. I had to write. Idon’t think it has chilli powder, however. I have a sensitivity to chili powder and really can’t tolerate it. No problem with Stouffer’s Mac and Beef. By the way, I’m also from Michigan same era.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>