The ingredient list on “Pizza Lunchables” covers the entire length of one side of the box. The front has “made with whole grain” to lead you to believe it might be a healthy option. Once I show you some of the ingredients I think you’ll believe otherwise. Here are some reasons why you should make your own pizza lunch for your child to take to school.
- Mixed Fruit Flavored Juice – first ingredient is water, then HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, followed by some juice concentrates
- Pizza Crust – ENRICHED BLEACHED Wheat Flour is the first ingredient, and there is artificial flavors added
- Tomato Sauce – fairly typical ingredients: water, tomato paste, sugar, and spices
- Cheese – is not organic and likely comes from cows who were given lots of hormones and antibiotics
- Artificial Blue Raspberry Candy – first ingredient is sugar, then there are partially hydrogenated oils, and artificial food dyes – red-40, yellow 5, yellow 6. Those are the three top used artificial food dyes used and all have known carcinogens. Carcinogens are cancer causing substances.
You know I couldn’t resist remaking it with healthier options.
First I wanted to find the “crust” to use for the pizza. In a perfect world we would all make our own but I’m trying to find the best options that are also the most convenient. I found 100% Whole Wheat Arnold Sandwich Thins. The Fooducate App rates them as an A- and said they are they a top product in the category, with a fairly simple list of ingredients. They were $3.69 at my supermarket, and were actually on sale buy one, get one free. I did not use that in price calculations since they are not always on sale. Look out for sales on bread, you can always freeze what you are not using right away.
The sauce was easy to replace. I was able to find Organic Muir Glen Tomato Sauce for $2.85. This is for a large jar, so there will be plenty left over after lunches to use for a dinner. You could even blend the sauce with baby carrots and red bell pepper to add some extra nutrition. Tomatoes are one of the items I always buy organic. They are not on the dirty dozen but the thin skin could allow chemicals to get into the tomato much easier.
The cheese, in my opinion, needs to be organic or at least BGH or rbST – free, if possible. If it is not either of those then the cows are injected with hormones to increase milk supply. When their milk supply increases they are more likely to get sick with mastitis and need high amounts of antibiotics. Then those hormones and antibiotics can be passed through into the milk in some form. These hormones have been banned in Australia, Canada, European Union, and Japan but not here in the Unites States. Also, organic cows are treated more humanely. I was able to find organic shredded mozzarella at my supermarket for $4.49. It would give you enough cheese for 6 six lunches with some leftover.
For a fruit side, you could pick up a fresh pineapple or watermelon. Since they are on the clean 15 you do not have to worry about them being organic. Another option is picking up cans of pineapple chunks. I found supermarket brand pineapple chunks in pineapple juice for $1.39. Three cans would give you enough for six lunches. Buying canned pineapple, you do loose some of the nutritional value but it still has a good amount of vitamin C. Be sure to read the labels on canned fruit, many are in syrup and not juice. If you buy the cans, don’t throw away the juice. Pour it into an ice cube tray and freeze it. Then add those pineapple ice cubes to water for lunch. It’ll help encourage your kids to drink more water and save you some money at check out! We make flavored ice cubes often at my house, I enjoy them just as much as my girls.
Total for this pizza lunch:
- $3.69 – sandwich thins
- $2.85 – organic tomato sauce
- $4.49 – organic shredded mozzarella
- $4.17 – the cost of 3 cans of pineapple to be used for fruit side and to flavor water
Total $15.20 for six lunches makes it $2.53 per lunch. Only 3 cents more per lunch compared to a Pizza Lunchable for a mostly organic lunch, free of artificial ingredients and food dyes, and full of real whole grains and fruit! And to top it off it would take just a couple minutes to put this lunch together. YES, YES, YES!
Have a great week! -Victoria