Welcome to our food series called Eat It Up, where we share the kitchen gadgets and foods that we can’t cook without.

Let’s be real — the dead of winter means we’re all relying on creamy, comforting decadences to keep us warm. For the days you just need a head start on supper, we’ve found a new pantry staple to rely on. Tillamook Sauce Starters ($4) can be used in place of béchamel sauce (or processed cheese products like Velveeta), so homemade mac and cheese, casseroles, and nachos can be whipped up in no time.

Choose from four different flavors: three cheese, aged cheddar, creamy Alfredo, and spicy queso. Each comes with almost seven ounces of real shredded cheese, along with a packet of seasoning. The thickening agents in the seasoning packet happen to be gluten-free too. Potato and tapioca starches as well as guar gum (often used as a gluten substitute in wheat-free flour) consistently makes a smooth, rich sauce in minutes, so even newbies can rest assured their sauce will turn out lump-free and thick enough to stick to pasta, chips, and more.

Simply combine the two packets of ingredients with 1 cup of milk in a sauce pot, then bring it to a simmer. Each kit makes about 1 1/2 cups of sauce, which is just enough to mix with 12 ounces of pasta for mac and cheese on the fly.

Follow us on Pinterest for more delicious meal shortcuts.