Thursday, March 25, 2010

Day 79: Get kids involved with their food

Claire asked me several times about Lunchables, these gross (to me) pre-packaged lunches. Some of the kids at school had them, and Claire was asking me why I didn't want to get them for her. My reasons were as follows:

1. The food is poor quality and probably tastes gross
2. Too many chemicals and preservatives, too much salt, unhealthy
3. They are expensive ($1.99 for the cheapest one)
4. Wasteful packaging

However, Claire called my bluff on #1 and #3. She said she'd like to be the judge of whether it tasted bad. And I admitted that a Lunchable might go on sale some time and then it would be cheaper.

I was trying to be a good mom, the kind that doesn't deprive the child but at the same time sticks to the principles of a healthy family. I pointed out that the #2 hurdle is pretty major here - the cost and the taste can't outweigh the unhealthyness. And the #7 plastic container is 100% garbage, non-recyclable trash. (By the way, I find this utterly appalling. Why can't they use a recyclable container? Or something compostable like paper?)

We decided to perform an experiment. We would purchase one Lunchable, of Claire's choosing. We would then replicate a homemade version of the Lunchable and compare taste, cost, waste, and healthyness.

She chose Pepperoni Flavored (!) Sausage Pizza. That's "sausage" that has been "flavored" to be like "pepperoni". (Just so you know.) It cost $1.99.

Here is the photo set showing Claire assembling and eating (should I say 'devouring' the Lunchable):

The Great Lunchable Experiment, Phase 1

Believe me, I really hoped she'd hate it. But, she did not hate it. She rather liked it, in all its partially hydrogenated glory. That mozzarella cheese food product went down like butter. She licked the plate. ("I did not!" ...she is helping me write this...)

On the other hand, the mommy-made version was healthy, hot, steaming, fresh, and, according to Claire, not nearly as good. The crust was too doughy. Sigh.

The Great Lunchable Experiment, Phase 2

Link to the whole Lunchable Experiment Photo Set

Here is the link to the Lunchable nutrition info for the one Claire picked out. Ugh.

Needless to say, we will not be purchasing this again, but I'm glad we did the experiment. I'm glad she got to try one so she won't feel deprived or as if she wasn't heard. And I feel fairly good about the lunches I pack in general, but tomorrow I'll post a bit more about lunches for kids.

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