Ad critique: Lunchables

Lunchables ad, Working Mother August/September 2010
Even da Vinci started somewhere,” and
It doesn’t get better than this.”

I laughed when I saw this ad. Then I shrugged and frowned. Now I’m sort of annoyed. Do you agree that this ad is strange and bizarre? Da Vinci and Lunchables? I have a feeling that Da Vinci ate a Mediterranean diet that wasn’t wrapped in plastic…. unbelievable! Are they making the absurd argument that by eating lunchables your child will turn into Da Vinci? And then “it doesn’t get better than this.” Oh really? An army of nutritionists would beg to differ.

What is telling about the ad is that the product does not take up much ad space. In fact you can barely see the lunchables. The advertisers are trying to suggest that adding a mandarin orange fruit cup makes a big difference in the healthiness of the product. I’m still not buying it.

We have talked about Lunchables before (in April). Some of the comments on that previous post blew my mind. Do parents really buy into this kind of advertising?


I went shopping and scoped out the lunchables. Here’s what I found:

 The display case
The bigger lunchables
Turkey and cheddar sandwich
Check out everything you get: bread, turkey, processed cheese, applesauce,
Nilla wafers, water bottle, package of kool aid powder to put in the water bottle, package of mayo
Look at that paragraph of ingredients and it’s 370 calories with 590 mg of sodium, 63g carbs
Pizza and pepperoni
Pizza crust, cheese, pepperoni, pizza sauce, cheese crackers,
chocolate chip cookies, water bottle, kool aid powder
 Another paragraph of ingredients, 880 mg sodium, 60 carbs, 40% of daily fat

I didn’t find the ones advertised in the ad that contain “mandarin oranges.” But I didn’t look that hard. There is so much packaging and no vegetables. Do you want your kids to eat these?

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72 thoughts on “Ad critique: Lunchables”

  1. I've been in advertising many years and no, I don't buy the Lunchable ads. Let me refer you to the McCann Erickson's credo (introduced in 1912). "The Truth Well Told." The Lunchable ad is neither. ~Mike

  2. I found that it is all in the packaging. Kids love the way they package Lunchables. A good alternative is Laptop Lunches. It is little separate reusable containers that all fit together in a little lunch box. That way you can package your own food into the box. A reusable water bottle (no koolaid), with whatever you like. My son loves it when I put in some flatbread crackers, a wedge of french onion laughing cow cheese, some grapes, some carrots & celery, and some hummus. My daughter's favorite is when I make a small salad, some California sushi rolls, and an orange, complete with chopsticks. I think it is all about the separation of the items that the kids love. It's like they have some power of how they are going to eat lunch.

  3. Nope. Aside from the obvious nutritional issues, they're expensive, taste funny, and produce too much trash.

  4. I don't yet have children, but I can say that when I do you can bet your life savings that my children wont be anywhere near anything like that! I'm not to nutritional savy, I just know what's good for me and what isn't and go from there, however, anything that contains 8 items but has an entire paragraph that would take me 10 minutes to read is NOT good for us or our children!!

  5. In Defense of Lunchables.

    If you get the normal pizza lunchables (the only ones I eat) on sale its only a $1.50. That is not expensive, and on par or cheaper than what I spend on a normal lunch I make myself.

    Its not the end of the world to eat anything terrible for you once every month or two.

    They are incredibly convenient to keep in the back of the fridge to grab when you are incredibly strapped for time (yes there are times when 1 minute to pack a lunch is too much) or have run out of groceries. They don't need a microwave or fridge either and prevent me from having to buy lunch from Panera, whose food is comparably expensive and also loaded with fat, calories and preservatives. Seriously read the food info for places like Panera, they are on par with lunchables.

  6. I agree that Lunch-ables are rather gross. My best friend's daughter just started Kindergarten last week, and she was going to go shopping for a lunch box, and then lunch to go in the box. I was in teaching but now I am a stay at home mom. I told her as a teacher, please do not put a lunch-able in her lunch box. I told her my reasons for why, she looked at me and said how she hadn't thought of it that way.
    Her family eats a lot of healthy food anyways, and after thinking about it she was planning of fixing turkey sandwiches, carrot sticks and some sort of fruit. I just wanted to post that I do agree that there is something wrong with lunch-ables as well!

  7. Do I want my kid to eat these? NO!

    I saw that ad the other day and just ignored it.
    Lunchables are not on my radar until preschool starts and I get annoyed when a child brings them to school.

    I am starting to gear up for my back to school speech on visitation day. I have to do a section on lunch. I try to get parents to think outside the box and away from the processed foods.
    I also hand out this list from Dr. Sears on brain drainers and brain boosters.

  8. That ad makes me roll my eyes violently. "It doesn't get better than this" coupled with da Vinci. Jeez. That is terrible.

    I will admit that my kids eat Lunchables rarely — we're talking twice a year, at most — and they do have fun with them. At their ages now (10, 9 & 7) I'm talking to them about nutrition choices and reducing waste so they're not as turned on to the Lunchables as they were when they were 5 or so.

  9. I will admit that when I was a kid and Lunchables has just come out, I got them from time to time (with my own money! My mom wouldn't buy them) and I enjoyed them. Back then they were just crackers, cheese, and meat. The "deluxe" Lunchable was crackers, two kinds of meat, two kinds of cheese, horseradish sauce, and an Andes mint. The deluxe one made me feel pretty frou-frou!

    That said, I don't want my son eating these things. What kids want doesn't equal what they should have!

    As a side note, Mrs. Q, the new high school here put in a Starbucks-like "cyber cafe" and a Chick-fil-A. A lot of the parents actually think these are great perks and don't seem to care about the horrible message (and nutrition) this sends. I thought we were getting junk food OUT of the schools – but it seems the corporate sponsorship system is still alive and well 🙁

  10. I ate lunchables when they first came around- well, when I first remember them being around, so maybe I was in junior high or high school. Now, I realize, how disgusting they are! I do not buy them, I will not buy them. Gross! And, did I see 470 calories on the pizza one? That's outrageous!

  11. I agree that lunchables are (obviously) bad for you. I would also be VERY surprised if any one actually looked at that ad and was swayed into believing otherwise – but unfortunately, I am surprised by a lot of things.

    However, I caution, if you think you are doing your kid a favor by going to the deli counter and buying sliced luncheon meat and cheese and then popping over to the cracker aisle and assembling your own lunchables, unless you are diligently reading the lables and asking questions at the counter, you are probably doing no better.

    Mrs. Q's faux-lunchables yesterday for most people sadly are an exception to what they themselves assemble (and to be fair to lunchables by nature the summer sausage probably did have a lot of sodium and fat. Although I would suspect the summer sausage had a lot more actual meat and less preservatives. Nice patronage of your local butcher, Mrs. Q!).

    It's time that America started demanding more real food with ingredient lists that reflect that. It's a shame that the grocery store is rife with bad choices and good food is difficult to come by.

    And of course, we should all be thinking : vegetables, vegetables, vegetables (and fruit). Absolutely no meal should be complete without them.

  12. I don't like them because of the excessive packaging. Honestly, though. I'm not sure I do better sodium wise when I pack turkey sandwiches. Calorie wise, this isn't too bad, is it? Even the pizza at 470 calories isn't out of whack for a growing child. I suppose that a lunch I pack myself will taste better and will have fresher and more nutritious ingredients most days. Overall, I'm more anti lunchables than not. I guess I must have tried one myself at some point because I can remember everything tasted the same from the crackers to the cheese.

    I've figured out why the summer posts have bothered me. I think it's almost like breast-feeding. What we choose to feed our families is intensely personal. Attacking lunchables (and therefore people who feed their children lunchables) is akin to attacking formula and women who use formula or women who nurse in public.

    I believe school lunches are out of control and not nutritious as they ought to be, and I also believe that some folks need a wake up call about nutrition. Probably even me since that pizza at 470 calories doesn't bother me. But, this makes me feel defensive. And, I never even buy lunchables.

  13. I saw that ad! It also ran in the Sept issue of Parents. The second I saw it I laughed. I showed it to DH – he laughed too. I was very tempted to write an e-mail to Kraft and ask them "What exactly are the lunchables the epitome of?" My best guess is marketing. I wouldn't believe for a second that they outrank the lunches I make for my kids.

  14. As a parent you have to be able to say NO, no matter how many times your child begs. If they asked you for a glass of freon because the glowing color was cool would you give it too them? Processed lunch meat of any kind is the worst kind of meat you can serve. And really how can anyone think that something called Processed cheese product is good for you?

    I don't buy the excuses.

    A. They aren't cheap. Per ounce they are very pricey. A box of quality whole wheat crackers, a block of real cheese and some slices of real oven roasted turkey might add up to more at the register but think of how many more "lunchables" you can make with that.

    B. Time. What crap that excuses is. I make three boxed lunches a day. IT takes me zero time to make them. I make them in the evening after dinner. Often times using the dinner leftovers.I wish I could help people understand that lack of planning is the culprit of the morning rush.

    My kids only have to get up 30 minutes before school starts. Why? Because backpacks are packed, clothes are put out the night before and lunches are waiting in the fridge.

    What did my kids have in their lunch boxes today? A bowl of rice and peas, two celery sticks with natural peanut butter, strawberry's and carrot sticks.

  15. Oh I totally agree with you. I have never, and never will feed my children these, and I have 3 kids within 2.5 years of each other so I understand all the excuses of being "busy" and "not having time" to make them better food. Although, when it's something important to you, you MAKE the time. I don't even think my kids would eat these. They're so used to fresh fruits and vegetables they probably wouldn't know what to do with a box of chemicals.

  16. I have to admit that there have been a few days that I have walked out the door and forgotten my son's lunchbox! OMG! What to do at 7am for lunch at the grocery store? Lunchables are a logical option when you just have a day like that, for sure! However, Lunchables are NEVER on my shopping list and I pack his lunch every day. He's perfectly happy with a regular turkey sandwich and any variety of fruits and vegetables I can cram into the box.

    Kool-Aid? Over my dead body. If he wants something other than a standard water bottle and a juice box, I surprise him with a sugar-free Crystal Light.

  17. The ad is terrible.
    Lunchables though, I'll play devils advocate and say I actually kind of like them ('specially the nacho ones from about 10 years back). And really, the only reason we got these in our lunches was because my parents had to work and couldn't pack lunches for us, and sometimes us kids woke up too late to make one ourselves (making a sandwhich the night before makes it soggy). So really, It's about the ease more than the taste.
    Really, theres probably the same amount of "crap" (calories, fillers) in these as a Subway sandwhich or something from Panara.

  18. I actually don't have a problem with this. Seems to me like you're overthinking it, but then I'm not generally swayed by advertising. Maybe you should just take it for what it is?

    Honestly, I can't wait until you get back to doing the whole school lunch thing because I'm not really interested in what you think about lunchables (that my kids do eat on rare occasions) or McDonalds (that my 5-yr old finds to be a great treat) or advertising. As a thinking adult, I can control what my kids see and eat so this bores me.

    What I can't control is what low income kids without a choice eat for their free and reduced lunches at school and your blog is an excellent example of why we're trying to change things in our district. I'm afraid this kind of post isn't going to help anyone's cause.

    BTW… I'm posting this as anonymous for a reason, and have posted previously under my Google account. So please don't go all "Don't feed the trolls" on me.

  19. We go the Laptop Lunches route – and I find that my kids prefer the fresh/healthy over fast food. They simply eat more when it's good food! Sure, they ask for a snack of chips – but after a filling lunch, just a few will do! I also tried something else – the "muffin tin meal" – last week, and blogged about it here:
    My kids loved it – though we are back to school soon, so it's back to the Laptop Lunches (which we love!).

  20. At first before I forget–Megan, Starbucks at school??? I admit I love Starbucks, but I am an adult and I limit my caffiene intake responsibly (And yes–I have discussed my coffee intake with my doctor). For kids I don't think a Starbucks should be in schools. Kids need to grow up without a caffiene addiction. And high schoolers are still kids, even if they don't always look like it.

    On the lunchables issue. I think advertising is tricky. On one hand I think most parents feel that they are smarter than advertising yet kids are very vulnerable to it. And it is true that when kids beg for a product it will get purchased, even if it's not everyday. Many parents may use purchasing lunchables as a treat which means there will be a steady stream of purchases even if it is not a pantry staple.
    On another hand there is a large percentage of the population that feels like, well it is just meat and cheese and crackers why is that so bad? I think it is terrible! Because the meat has nitrates and likely was raised inhumanely with antibiotics, the crackers are just white flour with no nutrition flavored with sugar and with gums and oils to hold them together and the cheese is also likely processed and high in fat and salt. Where is the vitamin E? Where are the B vitamins? Where is the fiber?
    So much nutrition is missing from these lunchables meals. Also can parents really say that for brakfast and dinner their kids are getting 5 servings of fruit and veg? More likely that most kids are getting 2: one serving of veg from pasta sauce and one serving coming from juice. No wonder so many kids are constipated! Each meal is too important to just give up and say that it is okay once a day or once a week. Every calorie counts when it comes to ANYONE (not just kids) getting enough nutrition.

  21. Thanks for all the great comments. The point of the ad critiques is to make you question what you see in ads and read labels. If you are already doing that, good for you! It sounds like most of you are.

    Up Monday: Pop-tarts!

  22. This reminds me of the ad I just heard on the radio for Wendy's. Something along the lines of a kid saying that when he's a grown-up he's going to do nice things like his dad…take his kids to Wendy's. How it's about the quality of time with your kids…*barf*

    Yes, I know lunchables are not healthy. However, I see nothing wrong with occasionally giving my child a lunchable when she asks for one at the store. It's not going to damage her by giving her one every month or two. My daughter loves them and it's quite the special surprise/treat for her to get one in her lunch. She's always so excited about it when she comes home.

  23. Not just carbs, but sugar. Thirty-two grams is the same as an in 8-ounce serving of Mountain Dew.

  24. I bought a few Lunchables about a month ago just to give it a try (and they were free because of a store sale and a coupons.) I served one to my 2 1/2 year old son. It had crackers, cream cheese spread, turkey, water (with kool-aid powder which I threw away) and a small chocolate bar. The only thing he ate was the chocolate bar. I gave it a try just to see how it tasted and thought it was horrible. The crackers were extremely salty and the turkey was just disgusting. I ended up throwing the other two Lunchables I purchased in the trash.
    I tend to think that it's good to allow kids to have "bad" stuff from time to time and to let them make their own decisions about what's good. I've done this in the past with spaghetio's too, he ate 2 bites then said, "Mama, I don't like this." I had to agree with him!

  25. Ed – I think diabetics can have no more than 20g per meal — Anyone know if that number is correct?

  26. Ooo…Mrs. Q after our conversation yesterday I actually looked for pop tarts in my grocery store and read the ingredients. EW!

    Here's the thing with Lunchables. Yes, they are convenient. Yes, they can be cheap when they go on sale. YES, if you bought your own stuff at the deli counter and tried to re-create it EXACTLY, you might not be able to do much better.

    However, convenient is how the processed food companies grab us. That's why there is so much processed food, because nobody will take the time to actually MAKE anything. As I heard Michael Pollan say, do we want to let corporations do our cooking, or do WE want to do it?

    Years ago I made my son "Momables". They would include a small amount of deli turkey, but then I added real cheddar (not processed), whole grain crackers, cherry tomatoes, grapes, carrot sticks, and milk. One might have trouble making a healthier lunchable should they try to duplicate it exactly, but when you make it you can add lots of fruit and vegges. Also like someone pointed out, the cost factor becomes very low because you can make a pile of lunchables, instead of paying $3 per lunch.

    Also, I don't feel that your post was attacking. You simply pointed out what was in Lunchables and asked people if they really wanted to buy them. You should try posting about those dried noodle cups too, because they are super cheap and lots of parents send their kids in with them, thinking it's a good lunch. Egads, if they only knew the fat/sodium/chemicals in those things….

    It's not about being critical. It's about raising awareness. By doing so, I think that we shine a light in areas that people would rather not talk about, because it makes them feel guilty for their own choices. Yes, feeding your family is intensely personal. However, I don't think it's at ALL like attacking women who choose to formula feed. Women who feed their babies formula have little choice, often. They might be unable to breastfeed for medical/personal reasons.

    The options for a child's lunchbox are endless. Shining a bright light on the not so healthy choices is, in my opinion, a great way to raise awareness. Whether or not people take that personally is their issue.

    Keep going! I can't wait to read about the Pop Tarts.

  27. It floors me that anyone buys this junk when I can easily pack a healthy lunch that tastes great in 5 minutes or less.

  28. What I think a lot of parents don't know is just how easy it is to make an attractive, nutritious lunch–and like another poster said, a box with compartments like the Laptop Lunches is great!
    Look for bento blogs (mine is and flickr groups with pictures of healthy lunches, add some produce to your grocery list, and you'll be inspired in no time.
    Do I spend more than $1.50 packing a lunch? Perhaps, because I choose a lot of organic ingredients–but then again, I also include leftovers.
    DaVinci did indeed have to start somewhere, but if the ad is suggesting that Lunchables are a reasonable starting point, that's just not true.

  29. I don't think most of us will fall for the da Vinci comment in the ad. We're smarter than the ad agencies seem to think we are I believe. As far as actually buying them for my son, well he was quite taken with them when he saw the ads on tv so I bought one for him full well knowing he wouldn't even like it. But I let him try it and make the choice himself. He definitly didn't like it and barely ate any of it. He said it tasted funny. I have to say the marketing is quite clever tho because he'll still see those ads and make comments about how they look like fun but taste terrible to him.

  30. When I first saw this ad in a magazine I thought it was for crayola chalk…it wasn't until flipping through again at a later date that I realized it was for lunchables…

  31. @Scattered Mom: "Women who feed their babies formula have little choice, often. They might be unable to breastfeed for medical/personal reasons."

    But, I think a lot of women don't breastfeed just because they don't want to. Or, they don't have time because they work. That might even be the reason they use Lunchables. So I still think my comparison is valid.

    My point is that this blog post and the ones about McDonalds, etc, aren't telling me anything I don't know. They're not telling you anything you don't know. They aren't enlightening, not to me, and not to a single commenter here today. Right? Maybe there's someone else reading and not commenting who today realizes that she should be reading the labels and checking sodium and fat content of lunchables and deciding if it's still a good choice. This type of post and the upcoming post on Pop Tarts are "preaching to the choir" if the commenters are representative of the population of the blog.

    I can certainly choose not to read and choose not to comment. But, the original purpose of the blog was noble, was good, and was enlightening. I miss that.

    I didn't know a cookie counted as a grain before this blog. That's so crazy. But, I knew that lunchables were full of sodium, food that doesn't taste that good, and too much packaging.

    I shouldn't tell you how to write your blog. I'm sorry that I'm trying. But, during the school year, I think it made a difference. It made me think. I'm sure it made others think as well. Now, it's just making me think I should stop judging other people for what they feed their kids because it's not very impactful.

  32. I found divided container made by Ziploc at Walmart. Perfect for salad ( I have grown kids- lunch for work) with a large compartment and 2 smaller ones. Only 2 something for 2 not 14 for 4 plus shipping and handling… and yes they are #5 PP plastic and doesn't contain BPA…
    Something for the moms that have tight budgets..

  33. @Anonymous 11:47 — Good lord! I didn't see you commenting on my Common Threads series where I actively helped children who live in poverty! EMAIL ME. I want to chat in person. Maybe we can talk by phone and put this to rest. I think I have earned the occasional criticism of a print ad without being called judgmental of what other people feed their kids.

  34. It's ok. I'm coming off more flame-y than I intend. When I say I should stop judging people for what people feed their kids, I really mean me. Not you. But, now that I write that, I see that I can't say I'm going to be less judgmental without implying that you have been judgmental. I apologize for that.

    I'm thinking about my sister's niece on her husband's side. I've never met the girl, but my sister tells me that she just eats chicken nuggets and tater tots. That's all she'll eat, and that's all her parent feed her. And, I think "poor kid. Her parents ought to do a better job." But, that kind of thinking with no action hasn't changed that kid's situation. I wouldn't act anyway. I think her parents would slug me. Changing the type of food she gets at school, that will have an impact on her life. My thinking her parents are bad at parenting won't. So, I should avoid that sort of thinking. That's the situation I was thinking of. I think you're doing a good job overall. But, somehow, this type of post leaves me feeling like I've done something wrong as a parent. And, I probably have. But, I don't want to dwell on it. I'll most likely do at least 1 thing wrong every day. I feel like the post started out as a criticism of a print ad, but it's still about the food.

    Thanks for the offer to chat in person. I will still do that if you still feel that you and I aren't seeing eye to eye.

  35. When I was in grade school (currently a senior in highschool) I thought lunchables looked neat and I wanted one. My mom bought a couple and I took them to school to eat. I hated them, I thought they were nasty and I was a picky child that wouldn't eat processed/american cheese. Lunchables appeal to kids because of the packaging. They appeal to parents because of the simplicity and kids willingness to eat them. Personally, I hated them but many kids in my school loved them. The pizza ones were disgusting…

  36. @Anonymous 12:43 — I'm available to have a chat anytime with any reader. We don't need to see eye to eye. I just want to make sure that you know I'm not attacking you.

    In regards to your sister's niece. It sounds like a behavioral feeding disorder. Any child that eats less than 10 different food items has a feeding disorder. You can google any of those keywords and find a lot of information about feeding therapy and programs to help children eat more foods. Sometimes it's something medically-based preventing that child from eating (a developmental delay or food allergy). If it was my kid, I would go straight to my pediatrician for a referral for a full work up from the gastroenterologist, allergist, and possibly the occupational and speech therapists. Eating two foods only is a serious issue nutritionally and it points to other major issues at play completely separate from what the parents are offering. Get medical professionals involved.

    Actually, I should find someone to do a post on feeding disorders because they do exist and are potentially very serious.

  37. Mrs. Q, a diabetic who follows the Exchange Lists for Meal Planning system has a meal plan that gives them a certain number of 'exchanges' from each food group for each meal and snack. One carbohydrate exchange is approximately 15g of carbs. How many exchanges a person gets is dependent on the calorie level of their meal plan. So, a recommended amount of carbs for lunch for a diabetic on a 2000 calorie food plan would be 3 exchanges (2 starch, 1 fruit) and would equate to 45g of carbs. Hope that helps! 🙂

  38. Regarding PWD (persons with diabetes) and carbohydrates: Each PWD's meal plan is different. Some people may have a correction factor, where they give X number of units of insulin per Y number of carbohydrates consumed. The PWD will also factor in the correction factor for the current blood sugar and inject the amount of insulin appropriate.

    This is pretty much where PWD with an insulin pump fit in; they'll program in how many carbs they plan to eat, their current blood sugar, and their pump will tell them how much insulin to deliver.

    Others may have a set meal plan where the number of carbs is set in stone each day. Even that number, however, depends on the child, the age, the meal, and the activity level.

    There is no real "every PWD should have 20 g of carbs at each meal." That's only one slice of bread — not even enough to make a sandwich!

  39. Mrs Q,
    I think it would be fantastic if you could do a post on sensory processing and how it pertains to eating!! It seems like we group so many kids together in the "picky eater" category. My daughter has sensory processing disorder, and the food she likes has nothing to do with taste.I think it would be so informative not only to parents who might be dealing with this and not know it, but also to parents who are dealing with it and don't realize that there is help out there in the form of occupational and speech therapy.

  40. That ad certainly is bizarre, Mrs. Q. There is no obvious connection between Da Vinci and Lunchables. And that comment that "It doesn't get better than this." is completely inexcusable.

    In her comment in response to the April 5 guest post about Lunchables, Dr, Susan Rubin hit the nail on the head when she shared a chance conversation she had with a Kraft executive (Kraft owns Oscar Mayer and the Lunchables brand). She wrote:

    "Not long ago, I ended up sitting next to a Kraft Food executive on a flight to the midwest. I didn't tell this guy that I was a food activist, instead, I asked him loads of questions about Kraft products. He told me that the quality of meat in Lunchables was so poor that he would not allow his kids to eat Lunchables…."

    I've stopped buying any brands owned by Kraft. They currently own about 80 brands so it's not easy to avoid buying their products if you shop in a supermarket, but I just can't trust a company that would prey on parents' guilt and kids' naivety for the sake of its profits. Kraft seems to have no qualms about selling crappy food to you to feed to your kids but Kraft executives know better than feed it to their own kids. Shame on you, Kraft!

  41. I agree that there may be an element of preaching to the choir but I also think that those readers who may be genuinely surprised by the nutritional information provided are not quick to chime in and say, whoa! never looked at the back of the box! So, I say, preach on sister!

    If nothing else, I hope that posts like this inspire us as eaters to wake up. To make our decisions at the grocery story or restaurant with awareness, make them consciously. It is far too easy to sleep walk through life mindlessly filling our stomachs with poor quality and, in some cases, genuinely toxic food. Reading these posts reaffirms why I do what I do in my house. I am the first line of defense, nothing enters my kitchen that I do not buy and I will not buy Lunchables. The ingredient list frightens me.

  42. I had a comment written, but was interrupted and the computer ate it. I apologize if this appears not well written, I assure you my sentiments are genuine.

    All I want to say is: Mrs. Q, I think you are doing an outstanding job and your blog is terrific. Yours is one of only 2 blogs I read daily.

    The topics of your posts are transcendent. I am a childless (so far) newlywed woman. As I have no children, I needn't concern myself with what my children are eating in school now. But someday I will.

    I have only just recently had to worry about what and how to feed me and my husband. Your blog has taught me very valuable lessons about what is healthy food. While some commenters seem to expect everyone to know everything about food, I didn't and do not know everything. I know hardly anything. Before reading this blog I never thought twice, for example, about the sodium content in turkey lunch meat. I always thought it was flat out healthy because it wasn't a hamburger or something worse. It isn't inherently known to what extent something is unhealthy or why. I'm not ashamed to admit this. I'm learning and improving, thanks to this blog, and I am proud of it.

    Your non-school lunch posts are relevent to everyone in any society. You bring up thought provoking topics and ask questions we should all be concerned with. Mostly I appreciate your calls to action and the fact that you follow your own advice as opposed to merely pointing fingers. The whole "no man is an island" mentality is refreshing. I confess to feeling bad about myself after reading the comments here on occasion. I feel condemned for being ignorant and lazy enough to make some bad decisions. I have never felt that you condemn others for their choices, only for the choices that are forced upon the helpless (like children. Your blog contains facts and educated opions as opposed to being presented in a judgemental tone. I thank you for this.

    I will wrap this up by expressing my wishes that nobody infer anything from my text than what I intended. I just want to pass on my gratitude to you for writing this blog and send you my appreciation. Mrs. Q, I think you're great and hope you keep doing exactly what you're doing.

  43. Thanks again to everyone. Please don't feel attacked by my commentary. I know I get strident every now and then, but I'm passionate about many of these things.

    There are so many things I learn from you guys!! I am a changed woman because of this project. Doing this has forever altered the course of my life. It is now the "new normal" for me. I have always done my best to feed my family, but now I have more knowledge and am able to make even better choices. It's great. When I am outraged at something, sometimes it's directed at my former self. I have always been gullible. I was a "good girl" who never questioned anything at school. Now I've gone the other way! Ha, ha… Thinking critically is something not taught at school and is in fact actively frowned on! So I had to get here on my own!

  44. I'd love to see a post about how parents of kids with diabetes and food sensory issues cope and feed their children.
    I personally don't know anyone with those health issues, but I am always interested in learning.
    Hope you can find someone willing to do a post Mrs. Q.
    I knew someone who's child went on food "jags" everyonce in awhile(he was 3). One month it would only be cold canned corn and cold spaghetti O's and the next it would be something else. The doctor told them he'd grow out of it. I was of the opinion that the kid was ruling the roost, but maybe I was wrong. I knew my kids would have never thought to even eat the food this kids was eating together let alone cold. Maybe it was sensory?

  45. zootnarf, your description is excellent but those are the carb exchanges for a sedentary adult on a 1,600 calorie plan rather than a 2,000 calorie plan. A child or teen, at a minimum, would need to add 1 milk exchange (12g of carb rather than 15g for a starch or fruit) for a total of 57g of carb. If the child or teen is active, additional starch servings may need to be added.

    When calculating the carbohydrates in a serving, a diabetic must subtract the grams of fiber if they equal or exceed 5g per serving. For example, say a slice of bread has a total of 18g of carbohydrate of which 5g is fiber, then count the bread as 13g of carb. Alternatively, say the slice of bread has 18g of carb of which 3g is fiber, then count the full 18g of carb.

  46. Mrs. Q — I think you may have misinterpreted the ad. I think what it was trying to say was that "even Leonardo started by scribbling as a child; if your child is fueled with Lunchables, they can achieve great things too." I don't think they were commenting on DaVinci's diet.

    Truthfully, I think it's a pretty poor ad for the audience they are aiming at. I think they'd do better aiming at mothers who have posted above that use Lunchables as a "sometimes treat" or as an option for a quick grab-and-go meal.

    I like these posts. I like the posts of school lunches, too, but I really like reading yours and other commenters critiques on advertising. It has a very strong pull on our society and instead of blindly following and becoming sheeple, opening up discussions like this can get a really good discussion going. I read every single comment on the McDonald's post.

  47. On Lunchables – my daughter ate them occasionally but would end up throwing part of them away. I stopped buying them at all after that because it just wasn't worth it. That was when I knew less about nutrition, too. Now that I know better I cringe every time I see a student eating one of those things. I know that most parents really don't pay much attention to what they shove in a lunch box or have the students eat from the hot lunch menu at school.

    On the food issues, I work with a lot of kids on the autism spectrum who have food issues. Then there are the kids with OCD, sensory issues and food allergies. I have a nephew with Aspergers who would only eat Mac and Cheese or PBJ sandwiches for a couple years. He is still very picky about what he eats and doesn't try new foods. My daughter has bipolar disorder and has sensory integration disorder. When she was unstable she was very picky and would only eat certain foods. Now that she is older and more stable she is still fairly picky but is more willing to try different foods.

    Food issues are complicated. We need to be careful not to jump to conclusions but be aware that what we see on the surface may have deeper roots.

  48. @Kate – I think I agree with your interpretation of the message the ad is trying to convey.

    However, I don't think it's a poor ad for the intended audience. Without appealing to the nutritional value they provide (because there isn't any), in my opinion, the ad is aimed at parents who don't really think too deeply about the significant chemical composition of each package, but are more easily swayed – subconsciously of course – by the rather sophisticated messaging and imagery of the ad.

    I suspect the sales potential for this demographic group is significantly larger than the "sometimes treat" group.

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