Skip to Content

Mac & Cheese Meal in a Jar

A classic comfort meal!  Convenient and easy to make – perfect to keep on hand for emergencies or even just a quick-to-fix dinner on a busy night!

Jump to Recipe Print Recipe

Mac & Cheese Meal in a Jar, in a wide-mouth mason jar, with label and gift tag.

Mac & Cheese Meal in a Jar

My kids used to go through mac & cheese like you wouldn’t believe, so this Mac & Cheese Meal in a Jar has been very handy to have on hand!  And who doesn’t want a few “comfort” food items in their storage, either for use in an emergency or for a quick-to-fix dinner on busy nights, right?

The recipe is adapted from one that I got from Crystal at Store This, Not That! (previously Everyday Food Storage).  I modified it to fit the jar better and tweaked the taste and directions a bit to fit my personal preferences.

But basically, it is pretty much the same as the stuff you get in the blue box at the store.  Except this one goes one step further and includes the milk and butter in powder format, so that all you need to do is add water!  The meal in a jar is shelf-stable for 5-10 years (as long as you store it properly and check the seal), and it also makes a terrific kid-friendly neighbor gift for the holidays.

Mac & Cheese Meal in a Jar made into a meal, in a white bowl, topped with bacon crumbles and fresh parsley.

Items You Will Need:

Collage of four photos showing the process steps for how to make Mac & Cheese Meal in a Jar.

How to Make Mac & Cheese Meal in a Jar

  1. Place all powdered ingredients into small sandwich or ziptop bag.  Remove as much air as possible and seal.  Set aside.
  2. Place dry macaroni into clean wide-mouth quart jar.
  3. Place baggie with powdered ingredients on top of macaroni in jar.
  4. If not using a Foodsaver to vacuum seal the jar, place one 100cc oxygen absorber on top of the baggie.  (You can use an oxygen absorber in addition to vacuum sealing the jar as well.)
  5. Wipe rim of jar to make sure it is clean.  Then place new lid on jar.
  6. To seal:
    1. If using a FoodSaver to vacuum seal the jar, carefully place the wide-mouth jar attachment over the top of the jar and lid, attach it to the FoodSaver, and vacuum seal following your model’s instructions (for most newer models you’ll use the Marinate or Accessory option).  Once done, remove the hose from the top of the jar sealer, and then carefully remove the jar sealer attachment off of the jar.  Place ring onto jar and tighten.
    2. If using just an oxygen absorber, place the lid on the jar and screw on the ring.  Allow jar to sit undisturbed as oxygen absorber works.  At some point, the lid of the jar should suck down and seal.  You will know it is sealed when you press on the center of the lid and it does not flex.  (If it flexes, it is not sealed.)
  7.  Attach instruction label to top of jar, or write cooking instructions on lid with sharpie marker.
  8. Store jar in cool, dry place away from direct sun. 

If you’d like to give this meal in a jar as a gift, be sure to grab the gift tag cut files from my friend Amy at The Happy Scraps – she did such an amazing job designing the labels and gift tags for this project!

Collage photo showing label and gift tags for Mac & Cheese Meal in a Jar.

Questions and Substitutions

How long are these Mac & Cheese Meal in a Jar meals good for?

As long as they are stored properly and the seals stay holding, these jars are shelf-stable for up to 10 years!  I’m hoping they won’t need to last that long because they’ll be irresistible and you’ll want to eat them long before that.  But if not, and you do choose to leave them all lonely and unloved on the shelf, at least know that they’ve got your back for several years. 

Can I substitute a different kind of pasta?

Yes, however cooking time will change (just cook to the al dente stage) and the sauce to pasta ratio may be off a bit.  But you can certainly substitute shells, mini shells, ditalli, pinwheels, bow tie, etc. in place of the elbow macaroni!  You may need to adjust the amount of pasta you put in the jar – just make sure you leave room for the baggie of powdered items on top!

How do I make the Mac & Cheese Meal in a Jar to eat?

Stovetop Instructions: To make the meal, remove the ring and gently pry off the sealed lid.  Remove baggie and set aside.  Bring large pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat, and once boiling, add in dry pasta and cook to the al dente stage (about 6-7 minutes for elbow macaroni).  Drain pasta, then place back in cooking pot or large bowl.  In separate bowl, add contents of plastic bag from jar and 3/4 cup of water.  Whisk until smooth (mixture will thicken).  Pour cheese mixture over pasta and stir to combine.

You can do it “blue box style” and just dump the water and powdered ingredients into the cooking pot with the drained pasta, then stir, but I found that it sometimes clumped and I couldn’t get all the clumps stirred out.  So I prefer to mix the cheese sauce separately then add it to the pasta.  But you don’t have to. 

Instant Pot / Pressure Cooker Instructions: Place dry pasta into the inner pot of your pressure cooker, cover pasta with water until water level is about 2 inches above top of pasta.  Place lid on pressure cooker, seal vent, and set to cook on HIGH pressure for 3 minutes.  When cook time is over, carefully quick release pressure.  Drain pasta and then return it to the inner pot of the pressure cooker.  Whisk contents of baggie with 2 cups of water in separate bowl until combined and smooth.  Pour cheese sauce over pasta and stir.

Looking for other meal in a jar options?  Check out these other delicious recipes on the blog!!

A quart mason jar, on a gray background, filled with the dry ingredients needed to make this Mac & Cheese meal in a jar, with a printed label tied to the outside of the jar.

Mac & Cheese Meal in a Jar

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

A classic comfort meal!  Convenient and easy to make - perfect to keep on hand for emergencies or even just a quick-to-fix dinner on a busy night!



  1. Place pasta in clean, wide-mouth quart-size mason jar.
  2. Place remaining ingredients in small sandwich bag.
  3. Twist or seal sandwich bag and place on top of dry pasta in jar.
  4. Place new canning lid on top of jar. Using wide-mouth attachment for a FoodSaver, vacuum seal lid onto jar following instructions from your FoodSaver manual. (You can also insert an oxygen absorber before putting on lid if you'd like.)
  5. Remove vacuum attachment and put ring on. Tighten by hand, but don't over tighten.
  6. Label and date. Be sure to include the instructions from the package for cooking the pasta.  Store in cool, dry location.

To cook:

Remove plastic bag of ingredients from jar and set aside, and discard oxygen packet if present.  In large pot, prepare boiling water for pasta.  Add pasta and cook until al dente, about 6-7 minutes.  Drain pasta, then place back in cooking pot or large bowl.  In separate bowl, add contents of plastic bag from jar and 3/4 cup of water.  Whisk until smooth (mixture will thicken).  Pour cheese mixture over pasta and stir to combine.


You can cook the pasta and then add the dry ingredients and water all together in the cooking pot, just like you do with the commercial varieties, but I find that the powdered ingredients sometimes clump this way, so I prefer to whisk the sauce mixture separately, then add it to the pasta.

Recommended Products

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 6 people
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 166Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 20mgSodium: 290mgCarbohydrates: 18gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 7g

Nutrition information provided as an estimate only.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Facebook


Thursday 2nd of March 2023

I would like more cheap recipes


Saturday 14th of January 2023

Hi! I don't use plastic bags anymore and would like to know if I can wrap the non macaroni things in parchment paper instead?


Sunday 15th of January 2023

It might work. The purpose of the plastic bag is to keep the powdered ingredients separate from the macaroni, and to keep the powdered ingredients from being sucked into the vaccuum sealer when sealing the jars. If you made a small packet out of parchment paper that sealed pretty weel it would probably work. Or, you could put all of the powdered ingredients into a small pint or half-pint jar, top with a cut out coffee filter or piece of parchment (to keep the powder from being sucked into the sealer) and sealed it by itself and just keep that small jar next to a bag of pasta or a jar of pasta if you want to vaccuum seal it separately.


Friday 22nd of July 2022

In the photo of your prepared jar, the preparation instructions say to add 3/4 cups of water along with the cheese sauce mix to the pasta and stir. However, your instructions in this blog say to add 2 cups water--which seems like a lot of liquid, and we don't like runny mac and cheese... Can you confirm the correct amount of liquid needed to make the sauce?


Friday 22nd of July 2022

Oh dear! That's super embarrassing! Yes, it should be 3/4 cup water, not 2 cups water. Thank you for catching that! I have now fixed it in the post.


Wednesday 18th of August 2021

Would full fat powdered milk like Nido or Red Cow work, or does that mess with the shelf life?


Wednesday 18th of August 2021

It would work, but it will decrease the shelf life. The fat is often the first thing to go rancid and so they generally remove it so the powdered milk will be shelf-stable for longer. I think with full-fat you’d have a shelf life of only a few weeks potentially. I’ll look into it more.

Suzanne Busby

Thursday 6th of February 2020

How do you convert measurements into ounces? We plan to make some of your recipes in a small group. For instance, 2/3 cup of cheese powder is how many ounces? If we made 10 jars, what size of can do we need?


Thursday 6th of February 2020

For the brand that I have usually used and have linked in the post, they have listed the volume to weight correlation on the nutrition label, and in this case they used grams. So 1/4 cup of cheese powder is 34 grams. That makes 2/3 cup of cheese powder about 90 grams (34 x 4 = 136 grams/cup, then multiple 136 x .66 to get how much a 2/3 cup serving would weigh = 89.76, so call it 90 grams). The entire can is 1480 grams, and divided by 90, that would make just over 14 servings of 2/3 cup each in one can. So one can should theoretically be enough cheese powder to do about 14 jars. A rough calculation using a conversion from grams to ounces put the servings at about 15, just to double check. So you should get between 14-15 servings of 2/3 cup of cheese powder out of one #10 can for the Augason Farms Cheese Blend Powder. In this case, plan on the lower number just to be safe.

Skip to Recipe