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Dr. Gourmet's Health & Nutrition Bites

Lunchables: Not a Sensible Solution

You see them on almost every aisle in the grocery now -- Lunchables. These are the cute little packages that originally started as a cheese and crackers combo and have evolved into whole meals (well, sort of whole meals). There are so many of them now in the case where deli meats are sold it's amazing.

Mini Hot Dogs
Chicken Dunks

Now, this is something I would never even consider purchasing or eating, but I did have to wonder if that was a good assumption, since they're no longer just cheese and cracker packs. You'd think they'd be a good option for your kids to take to school.

Wrong. These were perfectly awful. If you want to skip the gory details, I really won’t mind. (At Dr. Gourmet, we eat it so you don't have to.)

The Pizza and Pepperoni Flavored Sausage seemed the most promising. Three little dough discs are in the package and a pouch of Tombstone pizza sauce. Top the discs with the sauce and then 3 little slices of pepperoni and some cheese. Microwave for 30 seconds and you have a gooey, gross mess of awful bread dough and toppings.

There’s a package with Mini Hot Dogs that contains three tiny hot dogs, buns, catsup and mustard. Now hot dogs are OK (not the world’s most nutritious food, mind you) but these are a bit silly. They are, after all, just tiny cold hot dogs. That’s it -- tiny cold hot dogs.

It is the Chicken Dunks that are spectacularly bad. These are the pinnacle of processed food - something that I would never eat and certainly would not give to a child. They are bland and gummy tasting and the catsup sauce is plain awful.

All the meals come with a Capri Sun fruit juice drink that is actually made with fruit juice. Each pack also has a candy treat like a small Butterfinger or a couple of Starburst candies.

The meals range between 310 and 400 calories. None of the nutrition labels is very encouraging, with very little fiber and higher sodium levels.

The real problem besides the awful taste, fully processed food and terrible nutrition profile is the price. They average about $2.50 each. That’s $12.50 a week for a kid’s (or maybe your) lunch. That’ll buy a loaf of good quality whole wheat bread, a jar of peanut butter, a jar of jelly (or a package of Healthy Choice Roasted Turkey, lettuce and tomatoes and mayonnaise) to make some fantastic sandwiches. And there’ll be money left over.

Kraft labels these as one of their Sensible Solutions. They are not a solution to anything that can’t be just as easily solved by making a simple sandwich for lunch. And they are certainly not sensible -- either nutritionally or financially.

Reviewed: May 2, 2008