Use What You Have: Mac and Cheese Without a Pan or Colander


This happened to me and my friend while camping and thought I would pass it along. We had decided to go camping and packed everything we thought we would be needing only to discover when we went to make macaroni and cheese for dinner the first night, we had no pan to cook the macaroni in and no colander to strain said macaroni.


I came up with the bright idea to boil up the necessary water in our high sided frying pan and this worked beautifully, the macaroni cooked to perfection. Next came the problem of straining said macaroni as we had no colander to do this with and unfortunately no lid for the frying pan to use for draining.

Then came my next brilliant idea, I used the basket from our coffee pot (the one used to put the grounds in). I took two bowls, the basket from the coffee pot and a large spoon, might also help having one that is slotted but we had to make due with what we had on hand. I spooned out enough macaroni to fit in the coffee pot basket and held it over one bowl and let it drain and then dumped the macaroni into the other bowl and repeated the process until all the macaroni was drained. This didn't take but a few minutes and then I just put the macaroni back in the frying pan and finished cooking it according to the package directions.

Needless to say the mac and cheese was perfect and no one would have known that it had been prepared in a frying pan. We didn't even have a matching lid for the frying pan and thus weren't able to cover and simmer according to the directions but I just lowered the heat anyway and it cooked to perfection.
Thus when all else fails, look around and see what you have on hand and make due with what you have.

By Melody from White City, OR

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By Ted N (Guest Post)
November 7, 20081 found this helpful

Well Melody you are one clever and thinking Lady, my kinda Gal the type that uses her head instead of going into panic mode.

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Bronze Request Medal for All Time! 53 Requests
November 8, 20081 found this helpful

Amazing what our minds come up with when need be. Good thinking!!!

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By (Guest Post)
November 8, 20081 found this helpful

I grew up in a 'make do world' so I come up with some goodies at times. My husband thinks it is hiliarious sometimes, but hey, I get the job done!


Sometimes the fixes last longer or as long as the "right way". I tell everyone my house is held together with duct tape and liquid nails!

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Gold Post Medal for All Time! 969 Posts
November 9, 20082 found this helpful

First off, I agree with all the posters. Some people are so spoiled that if they don't have a coffee grinder and power to run it, their day sucks.

This brings to mind a couple of "fixes" that I came up with too.
I was in Fairbanks, AK, just moving into a trailer. Before I had the pots and pans, which I mistakenly packed first in the van, I wanted to make some Mac and Cheese, too.


I had power, but nothing to cook it in or gas to heat the water. Then, it came to me. I had a perkelator coffee maker. I figured if it boiled water for coffee, it should make macaroni. Well, it did.

I impressed my new husband to no end. In fact, he told every one the next day what I did.

Years earlier, I was at a BBQ with some friends. The "gals" were suppose to bring the food, and the "guys" were suppose to cook. Well, one guy forgot the spatula to turn the hamburgers.

I had just opened some big cans of Pork and Beans, and had the lid. I secured it between the 2nd and 4th tine on a 5 tine fork, bent it a little to make it angle, and Voila'!!

My mom and I used to travel with my dads, and she was the only woman I have ever known that could make goolash in a five pound (you could still get that size back then) coffee can over a campfire.


In the morning, she would fill it with water and heat it, making oat meal or cream of wheat in the bottom, while putting a pie tin on it to scramble eggs.

You are right, nothing to panic about. Just something to think about and do different!

Good story. Thanks for the memories.

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By (Guest Post)
November 9, 20081 found this helpful

A couple years ago when camping, I boiled pasta for pasta salad and realized I had no colander. I poked a few small holes in the waxed paper bag the pasta came in, carefully poured it in and shook it around to drain out the water. My husband thought I was brilliant. Reuse, recycle, repurpose is my motto!

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