College is the time in your life for shit food. You’re in a place where you can’t really cook for yourself, but you also don’t have anyone there to cook for you anymore. But just because you have to eat shit food doesn’t mean you don’t deserve the best shit food. And that, dear reader, is where I come in. For your sake, I have taken on the burden of trying all of Weshop’s microwavable mac and cheese cups to definitively determine which one is the best. I chose this specific combination of salt and carbs because it’s one of my favorite shit food options, and what is a more quintessential college food that microwave mac and cheese? (Yes, I know, RAMEN, but if I tried every ramen option at Weshop I would have a heart attack and die from all the sodium so I’m not doing that. Yet.) Each mac will cooked and tasted, then rated via the following criteria:
Ease of Preparation: How many steps are involved in cooking it, and how difficult is it? Could you make it while inebriated?
Mouthfeel: How is the pasta texture? Does the sauce have a good consistency?
Cheesiness: This one doesn’t need much explanation
Bang for yer Buck: Does it feel like you’re getting a full meal out of this cup? Is the Weshop price reasonable for what you get?
General Vibes: Just the feeling I’m getting from it, y’know?
In the end, only one will reign supreme. But who will it be? The answer lies under the cut.
Note: Although I will be following the cooking instructions on the mac and cheese packaging, I will take the liberty to add slightly less liquid than called for, because in my experience that gives you a better sauce. I will also allow myself to heat it up for longer than the recommended time if it comes out lukewarm and gross.
Mac #1: Kraft Original Flavor
Ease of Preparation: 2/5. I always fill Kraft cups a little below the fill line because they have a tendency to get ~soggy~. It takes 3 and a half minutes to cook, so points off for having to wait a while.
Mouthfeel: 4/5. It was okay. I wouldn’t go as far as to call it al dente or anything, but not too mushy. Sauce was nice and thick.
Cheesiness: 1.5/5. Very much lacking. Pretty disappointing.
Bang for yer Buck: 3.5/5. Kraft is the cheapest mac, coming in at $1.89 per cup In this case, I think you get exactly what you pay for.
General Vibes: Original Kraft is more or less what the name says: it’s the OG, and it’s basic. Nothing mind-blowing, but it’ll always have your back. It’s consistent if nothing else. Overall Score: 2.5/5
Mac #2: Kraft Triple Cheese
Ease of Preparation: 2/5. Exactly the same as Original Kraft.
Mouthfeel: 3.5/5. Pretty good. Sauce was a little looser than I would have preferred.
Cheesiness: 3.5/5. SO MUCH CHEESIER THAN THE ORIGINAL. It truly lives up to its name.
Bang for yer Buck: 5/5. This one is priced the same as Original Kraft, but you get so much more flavor.
General Vibes: If you’re going to go the Kraft route, eat this one. It is, hands down, better than the Original, and it costs exactly the same. Don’t even bother with the OG. Overall Score: 4/5.
Mac #3: Annie’s Real Aged Cheddar
Ease of Preparation: 4/5. I filled it right up to the line, then popped it in the microwave for 2:00. The packaging says to wait a minute after you put the cheese in so it can thicken, which definitely did help.
Mouthfeel: 4.5/5. The pasta had more of a bite than the Kraft, which I really liked. The sauce was nice and creamy.
Cheesiness: 4/5. Although the cheese flavor wasn’t as intense as the Triple Cheese’s, this one get bonus points for a more real-tasting cheese. I found it to be very pleasant.
Bang for yer Buck: 3/5. Because Annie’s is organic and shit, this cup cost $2.59. However, I think you can taste the quality increase from Kraft.
General Vibes: I found this to be a nice mac, as far as microwave macs go. The first thing I noticed about it was that the pasta looks sort of whole grain-y, and that actually gave the pasta itself some flavor that paired nicely with the cheese. It almost had a buttery flavor, but not in a gross way? It definitely feels healthier than the Kraft. Overall Score: 4.5/5
Mac #4: Annie’s White Cheddar
Ease of Preparation: 4/5. Same as the Annie’s Cheddar.
Mouthfeel 4/5. Unfortunately, the pasta didn’t cook enough on this one, even though it cooked for the same time as the Cheddar. But the sauce was the best consistency of all of them. It was SUPER thick and creamy.
Cheesiness: 4.5/5. I had super high hopes for this one, because the cheese power smelled really cheddar-y, and I think those hopes were pretty much met. It isn’t as cheesy as it smells, but it’s pretty close.
Bang for yer Buck: 3/5. Still organic, still $2.59.
General Vibes: I was honestly so impressed that this was microwave cup mac. The sauce got really luscious and creamy, and it overall had a nice flavor, similar to the Annie’s Cheddar, but with more of a cheese flavor. If you gave this to me in a bowl and told me it was stovetop, I would believe you (There’s no universe where I would believe it was homemade, that’s not the level we’re operating on here.) Overall Score: 5/5
Mac #5: Annie’s Rice Pasta and Cheddar (Gluten Free)
Ease of Preparation: 3/5. You cook this one for 2:15 instead of 2:00, I guess because of that gluten free shiz. Loses points because it overflowed in my microwave and I had to clean it up.
Mouthfeel: 1/5. For some reason, the pasta cooked unevenly, so there were chunks of more or less dry pasta in there. The sauce was really liquidy and didn’t thicken with time. The rice noodles were longer than normal macaroni noodles though, which was fun.
Cheesiness: 2/5. The flavor of the pasta really overpowered the cheese. I was left craving way more cheesiness.
Bang for yer Buck: 2/5. This one only comes in two packs, costing $5.39, meaning that it’s $2.69 a cup. I wish they would sell them individually.
General Vibes: I really wanted to like this one, I really did. I wanted all the gluten free folks out there to have a good quick mac and cheese option. Unfortunately, this is not where it’s at. It cooked weird, and was lacking in flavor and creaminess. I’m sorry guys. Overall score: 2/5.
The Definitive Ranking:
#5: Annie’s Rice Pasta and Cheddar: Unfortunately very weird
#4: Kraft Original: Real basic
#3: Kraft Triple Cheese: Better that the Original, but not enough to come up on top
#2: Annie’s Real Aged Cheddar: A close second
#1: Annie’s White Cheddar: Good enough to become my lunch after I wrote this
That’s about it folks! The ultimate ranking of all the mac and cheese cups at Weshop. Disagree with me? Sound off in the comments down below or email us at staff[at]wesleying[dot]org!