The Cooking Stop: Mac ‘n Cheese

9 Apr, 2024

My daughter loves lots of different types of food from pasta to curry to stir fries. The big issue for her has been that some of these foods use cooking techniques she finds difficult. I know one of the big obstacles she must overcome is being able to cook a variety of different meals for herself otherwise too much of her money will go on take-out and microwave dinners because there are meals she can’t make for herself.

Trial and testing have been a part of the recipes we have been developing for her to cook when she no longer lives with us. The focus has always been on reducing the number of ingredients, restricting the amount of chopping, or cutting needed, and focusing on using only a few cooking techniques. This has always been about making everything as easy for her to do without any help as possible.

One meal she has always loved is Mac ‘n Cheese. This is a definite crowd pleaser, a pasta cheesy hug that not many people can resist. But traditional recipes involve cooking pasta in a boiling pan of hot water on a stove, making a sauce, and baking in the oven – all things that my daughter finds challenging in terms of her fine motor skills.

We had to think long and hard about this recipe, to make it in a way she would find easy. So, it is cooked in two stages: first in the slow cooker then in the air fryer. The Mac ‘n Cheese mix is cooked in the slow cooker using a ready-made sauce, then left to cool before it is put into single-serve dishes to be reheated in the air fryer, which is also where there is the chance to add some tasty extra toppings to give it that texture and crunch top.

This is still as tasty as any other Mac ‘n Cheese recipe but the change in the way it is put together makes it easy for my daughter to make it without needing anyone to help her.

Serves 2


1 Jar Lasagna Cream/Alfredo Pasta Sauce

1 Cup Macaroni

1 Cup Grated Cheese

1/4 Cup Toppings (Bacon Bits, Breadcrumbs, Plant-Based Topping)                

Per Serve: 677 calories, 44g fat (18g saturated fat), 135mg cholesterol, 1044mg sodium, 43g carbohydrates (4g sugars, 4g fiber), 28g protein.


  1. Put the sauce and macaroni in the slow cooker and cook on low for 2 hours
  2. Allow to cool for at least 1 hour then add grated cheese and stir
  3. Spoon the mixture into 2 baking dishes, and sprinkle your topping of choice on top of each
  4. Cook in air fryer on Bake Mode (160C/320F) for 20 minutes.

Watch this YouTube video where I show you the method my daughter uses.

Other Suggestions

You could add vegetables to this recipe, just add them in at the slow cooker stage, a cup of peas or spinach would go well with this. You could also have a slice of garlic bread to accompany it.


Sometimes we need to think differently to help our young people reach their full potential. I believe most of our young people can cook, we just need to devise a way that works for them. This has meant for us that we cook recipes in a different way to achieve the same results. This Mac ‘n Cheese recipe is an example of this still delivering on taste and texture but made in a way that reduces the need for a stove, hot water, or heavy pans and dishes.

I’d love to hear your feedback on how your young person found making this recipe.

I’m the father of a daughter with additional needs. I understand how the journey can be tough, frustrating, and lonely. Sometimes it’s hard to imagine a future where they are secure, have self-dignity, have purpose in their lives, and have a community around them. I learned a lot from our journey, and that’s why I wrote, What’s Possible? Plan a better future for your young adult with additional needs. It shows you how to start making a life plan with your child.