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14

Lunchbox Wars: Nachos

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Kids love chips and they love dips.
What parents like are fresh and real ingredients -the MOMables®way. 

I reviewed a store bought boxed nacho lunch and made my own MOMables version. Which do you think can be called nutritious? Get the MOMveeta (cheese dip) recipe here. 

Round 1: Contents
The boxed lunch comes with tortilla chips, salsa, and “cheese” dip. I put cheese in quotations because cheese is not even one of the first 3 ingredients listed. It also includes a sugary fruit-flavored drink and a candy (which was prominently advertised on the front of the box, but thankfully, actually quite small – you can just see it peeking out from the chips).

My MOMables nacho lunch, packed in a Laptop Lunches bento lunch box,  contains Newman’s Own salsa, all-natural, gluten-free, non-GMO Better Chip tortilla chips, low fat natural refried beans (no lard), real & homemade sharp cheddar cheese dip, and fresh juicy strawberries. Winner: the MOMables lunch made with real food.

Round 2 : Nutrition
The boxed nacho lunch lacks protein, fiber and fruit. The first 3 ingredient of the “cheese” are water, oil, & starch. The salsa, made from tomato paste and seasonings, does count as a vegetable serving, but it has a lot of additives such as high fructose corn syrup and preservatives. The artificially flavored and colored drink contains less than 2% fruit juice – let’s call it sugar+water+color+2% juice.

The MOMables lunch includes a whole fruit portion, and beans for fiber and protein. The cheese dip is made from real cheddar cheese. The all-natural salsa in the MOMables lunch is full of vegetables. Winner: the MOMables™ lunch. 

Boxed Nacho LunchRound 3 : Appeal
The only appeal the boxed lunch had was the colorful box. It also lost points for being difficult to open. The plastic seal was difficult for even me to peel off without sending the contents flying, I doubt a child could have managed it.

My kidlet didn’t want to try the packaged nachos – well, except for the candy – but she ate the MOMables nacho lunch. She loved the sharp cheddar cheese dip, and I loved that I knew it was made with real cheese. When you make it yourself, you know exactly what’s in it!  Winner: The MOMables lunch!

With MOMables lunch menus, putting together a healthy lunch is easy, and you get to choose your own ingredients.

Fresh vs Packaged – Which nacho chip lunch would you rather your child dip into?

The MOMables lunch is a winner!

8

Lunchbox Wars: Bean & Cheese Burritos

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It’s hard to beat a burrito when you’re looking for a simple, complete and portable meal to go.  Sadly, the “insides” never look like the picture in the ad.  Today, we are going to show you exactly what you are not missing and how much cheaper making your own can be!

Homemade bean & cheese burrito compared to a popular drive-thru fast food version.

Round 1 – Convenience

A burrito doesn’t take long to make.  You order it at the drive-thru window, pay for it and thirty seconds later they hand you one at the next window.  Or, you buy a frozen box promising deliciousness in 30 microwavable seconds. Tada! No bueno.

MOMables Tip: Get a whole pack (or two) of flour tortillas and make a bunch yourself, ahead of time. They’ll keep in the freezer 3 months. A few minutes in the microwave and you have the perfect on the go dinner for busy activity nights. No more drive-through and no boxed ones!

Round 2 – Contents

I opened up the fast food burrito (at right) expecting to see just beans & cheese. I didn’t know there would also be some kind of sauce, and a lot of chopped onions. There wasn’t much cheese that I could see, but maybe it was just smothered by the sauce.  Slightly unidentifiable, don’t you think?

There were also a few pieces of lettuce. I suppose this was an unintended “freebie” courtesy of assembly line fast food.  When you make your own you know exactly what goes in your burrito.

I only put beans & cheese in my version (at left). No sauce – the seasoned beans and sharp white and cheddar cheeses have enough flavor for me .  If you are using plain re-fried beans or black beans, I’d suggest a dash of salt free taco seasoning.

Round 3 – Cost

The fast food bean burrito costs $1.29.
While the ingredients for the bean burrito were quite a bit more than that, broken down to the cost per burrito, the homemade one is only $ .79That is nearly 40% savings!

Bonus Round – Is Lunch Complete?

As filling as a bean & cheese  burrito is, it doesn’t make a very well-rounded lunch on it’s own. What about fruits & vegetables?  Can you get those at the drive through window?  You can have any fruit or vegetable sides you like if you pack your own lunch ahead of time.

 

I packed my  burrito in an EasyLunchboxes container, adding bite-sized tomatoes & sliced strawberries on the side. For a school lunch, warm the burrito in the morning, then wrap in parchment paper or foil paper before packing. Since avocados are in season, I also added some fresh guacamole & organic blue corn tortilla chips. The guacamole is homemade too. I jazzed it up with some lime juice, diced red pepper, and Zatarain’s Creole Seasoning = Cajun guacamole!

Which would lunch you rather feed your family?

The “MOMables™” burrito lunch is a winner!

This challenge shows that convenience foods often seem cheaper; but in reality, they  actually cost more per unit and  are often nutritionally incomplete. What fast food saves me in time, it costs my family in health.

It makes more sense to pack  my own meals to go, with fresh, healthy ingredients from all the food groups. MOMables menu plans make that easy, by taking the guesswork out of making a nutritionally complete lunch.


31

Lunchbox Wars: The DIY Pizza Lunch

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Today we put ones of those boxed Do-It-Yourself pizza lunches to the test. It’s easy to see the appeal of this lunch – mini pizzas the kids get to make themselves – fun! Food and interaction? definitely a plus.

What’s In The Box?

Our boxed lunch came with 4 mini pizza crusts, a portion of rubbery mozzarella (that I had to break apart), a pouch of sauce, a stack of pepperoni slices and a Capri-Sun drink. There was also supposed to be a chocolate treat – but ours was missing! How disappointing that would have been for a child.

Round 1 – Contents

Do the contents match the DIY picture?  It’s always a disappointment to watch my kid open something and when they do… it doesn’t look anything like what’s in the box.  In this case, it holds true.

My version, (shown below, packed in EasyLunchboxes),  has the same ingredients as the boxed lunch, but better quality: nitrate-free pepperoni, whole wheat bread rounds, real shredded mozzarella (not prepared cheese product), and all natural low-sodium marinara sauce.

The boxed lunch sauce comes in a squeeze pouch – mine is in a recycled condiment cup, so I packed a spoon for spreading. I also added some grapes – the boxed lunch has no fruit serving. 

Round 2 – Nutrition

As with the cracker lunches, the boxed pizza lunch has 30% more fat. It’s also 20% higher  in sodium and 35% higher in carbohydrates, probably because it has 55% more sugar! My lunch is higher in one thing – it has 20% more fiber. The boxed lunch does have 10% more protein than my remake, probably from the peanuts in the chocolate bar. Winner by an average of 30% less of what kids don’t need : the MOMables lunch!

Round 3 –  Overall Appeal

My girls had no interest in trying the boxed pizza lunch; primarily because the ingredients looked bland, colorless (the pizza dough) and the cheese felt rubbery.  I can’t really compare taste in this round. Both girls pointed to my lunch and shouted “I want that one!” Winner, by kid’s choice: the MOMables lunch!

The all-around winner: homemade MOMables!

Wouldn’t you rather send your kid to school with a lunch like this one?
Fresh and delicious in 10 minutes or less.

This challenge showed me that my kids know good food when they see it! Both the 3 & 5 year old chose the homemade lunch over the boxed, on sight. And the homemade version only took a few minutes to put together. You too can make your own fun, fresh & healthy “MOMables” like these, and more, with the help of MOMables menu plans!

Too busy to make school lunches? We’ve got you covered.  Lunches like this one & more in 10min!
click here to see pricing and sign up

30

Lunchbox Wars: The Cracker Lunches

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Are your kids drawn to those brightly packaged boxed lunches inconveniently displayed right at kid’s eye level in the refrigerator section of the supermarket? Mine are. They know the answer is going to be no, but they sometimes ask anyways: “Can we get one of those mom?”


Imagine my girls’ surprise yesterday when I stopped our cart right in front of the display and told them to go ahead and choose one! (Really?! No, I haven’t lost my mind… you’ll see).

What did they choose?
Surprisingly, of all the varieties available, they both chose similar lunches (on left).  They both have deli meat, processed cheese and crackers.  One has an artificial fruit juice flavored water and sour candy; the other sugar free gelatin, bottled water and two dry chocolate chip cookies. Neither have fruits or vegetables!

Why did I buy my kids a processed lunch?
I didn’t really buy them for my girls, I bought them for me – so I could remake them with better ingredients and show you how! See, I haven’t lost my mind!

Round 1 – Contents

My versions: one packed in reusable EasyLunchboxes, the other in a Lock & Lock divided bento box. Both contain smoked ham from the deli, yellow & white sharp cheddar cheese, and whole wheat crackers. I’ve also added baby carrots to my stacker remake, and replaced the candy with Annie’s Homegrown Organic Fruit Snacks – still a treat, but one with no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives, that’s made with fruit juice.

My version of the combo replaces the cookies & gelatin with apple slices. I used cookie cutters to cut some of the cheese in heart and star shapes, and arranged the food more pleasingly. In my cracker deli box remake I rolled the ham and skewered it on toothpicks, like party food.

Round 2 – Nutrition

The nutritional content of both packaged lunches is nearly identical, and the same is true for my remakes. My versions have twice as much fiber thanks to the addition of the carrots and apple.
All four lunches have about the same amount of protein. But the processed lunches have 25% more calories, 30% more fat and are 25% higher in sodium. They are also 30% higher in carbohydrates, probably since they have twice as much sugar as my homemade versions!

Round 3 – Taste

No contest – the homemade versions win! My 10 year old boy and 9 year old girl got the “MOMables” for lunch, and the little girls got the packaged lunches they chose. While they were excited at first, the novelty wore off once they tasted the ham (water added, flavor added) and American “cheese product”.
They tried to trade for the better versions their siblings had, but nobody was willing. My 9 year old did say she’d take the ham they didn’t want – but after taking one bite she gave it back.

The winners are the homemade “MOMables”!

Which would you rather give your kids? And which would they rather find in their lunch bag?

This test reminded me to not sacrifice taste for convenience.  You too can make your own fresh & healthy “MOMables” like these, and more, with the help of MOMables menu plans! And if you want to make them cute, that’s easy too, all you need is a cookie cutter and a little imagination.

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