Can you make this ahead of time?
This question references CHOW's Classic Macaroni and Cheese recipe.
how far ahead of time? Since this recipe can be served either directly from the stovetop or poured into a baking dish and baked, the answer also depends on which form you prefer.
If you like the smoother, creamier stovetop version, then you'll pretty much have to serve it soon after you've made it. The pasta will continue to absorb liquid and you'll lose the creaminess.
OTOH, if you prefer baked mac and cheese [I do], then you can to this a couple of hours ahead of time - and if you went that route, I'd undercook the pasta by at least 3-4 minutes [maybe even half the cooking time] because, again, it'll absorb the liquid [bechamel] and will continue to cook in the oven. If you go this route, put into a baking dish, cover with foil, refrig for a couple of hours, when ready to re-heat, take out of the frig to come to room temp, and then put into the preheated oven . you can also put the cold baking dish into a cold, non-preheated oven so that you don't shock the dish [and end up with a broken baking dish and huge mess in your oven]
You can actually freeze it. I do it ALL THE TIME. (I use a different but similar recipe.) It's a great freezer meal for the working mom! :)
The crumbs don't lose any of their crunchiness. I normally bake my mac and cheese for 45 minutes covered and 15 minutes uncovered. When I freeze it, I like to add a few minutes uncovered to give the crumbs extra time to dry up and get crispy. So I'll do 35-40 minutes covered, and 20-25 minutes uncovered. Good luck!