The Cost of Making Green Noodles and Cheese

Did anyone else eat this growing up?

A note on the portion size: I put about 2/3 of the batch of noodles on my plate because I thought the plate looked empty with only half the batch — but after I took the first bite I realized how dense the noodles were and ended up scooping part of the plated portion back into my Pyrex to save for Monday’s dinner. So half a box of noodles (and two ounces of cheese) really does get you two portions, depending on your appetite.

When I was a kid, my parents would make what we called “green noodles and cheese.” The green noodles were these spinach noodles that came in a rectangular plastic package (not a cardboard box), and they curled in a loose spiral like egg noodles.

I cannot find these noodles anywhere, either in the grocery store or online, but I did grab a box of veggie rotini when I was at the grocery store and set out to recreate this recipe.

If you want to make this at home, here’s what you do: cook the noodles, drain off the water, add shredded cheese, stir until the cheese is melted, and serve. Feel free to add tuna, peas, Parmesan, anything you like to the mix. Maybe a little salt and pepper to taste. It’s up to you.

Here’s what the recipe costs:

Six ounces Eating Right for Healthy Living Veggie Pasta Rotini: $0.75 (half of a $1.49 box)

Two ounces Tillamook Sharp Cheddar Cheese: $0.69 (1/8 of a $5.49, 16 oz brick)

Total cost of a two-serving batch of green noodles and cheese: $1.44

Cost per serving: $0.72

Add in a $0.78 handful of grapes (roughly 1/5 of a $3.90, 1.96 lb bag) and a $0.60 glass of wine (roughly three ounces from a 1.5 liter Bota Brick), and Sunday’s dinner cost me $2.10.

The green noodles and cheese appears to be the least expensive entrée I’ve made, so far. The bean and cornbread casserole was $1.14 before I added a side dish and wine, and $2.72 for the total meal. The tilapia, spinach, and couscous dinner that surprised me with its cost-effectiveness was $1.77, but I didn’t have wine with that meal, which would have pushed it to around $2.40. (At the other end of the scale, my pork chop with applesauce, couscous, and asparagus dinner was $5.05.)

I was curious if this green noodles and cheese recipe was less expensive than, say, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, and it looks like the going rate for a five-pack of Kraft Mac and Cheese is $4.73 (at both Amazon and Walmart)

One box of Kraft Mac and Cheese theoretically serves three people, but we all know it really serves two at best, so that means an individual serving of Kraft Mac and Cheese is about $0.47.

I, in turn, could bring down my green noodles and cheese cost by buying Lucerne cheese instead of Tillamook and less-expensive green pasta.

The point being that this is a low-cost, easy-to-make meal—it’s no surprise that I remember eating it regularly as a child—and if you add a side and a glass of wine it transitions very easily into adulthood.

(Which is good, because I have half a box of Eating Right for Healthy Living Veggie Pasta Rotini left.)