Lunchable vs. Lunch – Plus Don’t Miss a chance to win our Applegate Farms Giveaway

by kimgerber on 08/28/2011

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“The Lunchable”.  What can I say about those two little words that emerge as the never ending thorn in my side every school year.  Those little compartmentalized boxes of “food” somehow creep into conversation and head the list of requests from my boys when planning school lunches.  My boys want to peel slices of pressed, chemical filled “meats and cheeses” out of their cute little compartments and stack them on crackers and call it lunch.  They want that because they see friends eating them at school.  Friends eat them at school because they’re easy to pack.  So what is a mom to do?

Last year I deconstructed the Pizza Lunchable here on Out of the Box Food and recreated a homemade version of the Chicken Parmesan Lunchable over at EasyLunchboxes.  Since we’re still deep into our Lunch Box Idea Share and Giveaway with Applegate Farms, I decided it was time to take on the deli meat & cheese stacker Lunchable and bring it Out of the Box.

Don’t forget to pop over to last weeks post to enter to win our Applegate Farms Giveaway! Contest ends next Saturday, September 10th.

Back-to-School – Lunch Box Ideas & Contest GIVEAWAY


THE COMPARISON: Oscar Mayer Lunchable – Ham + Cheddar with Crackers  vs. Out of the Box Food Lunch Box Cracker Stacker

(All ingredients followed by an * can be referenced at by clicking on the ingredient)


*Please pay special attention to the ingredients: Sodium Nitrite and Partially Hydrogenated Cottonseed Oil

Oscar Mayer Lunchable – Ham + Cheddar with Crackers


**All listed product ingredients are taken from product’s package label.  Though Out of the Box Food makes every effort to provide complete ingredient information, please check the package for the most current information.


With a simple trip to the Deli Counter, and a good hard look at the ingredients in the foods available,  I was able to put together an assortment of home made Cracker-Stackers using all natural, preservative free turkey & ham,  cheeses, natural crackers & veggies.  With a 1 1/2″ round cookie cutter, we can have uniform pieces to stack evening on our crackers of choice.  When I placed the ingredients in an Easylunchbox, my kids were completely satisfied and I was confident they were getting a nutritious lunch.


Take a second and go back to view the laundry list of ingredients in the Oscar Mayer Lunchable.  Now here is the list of ingredients in my homemade Out of the Box Food Lunch Box Cracker-Stacker:

Applegate Ham: Organic Pork, Water, Contains Less Than 2% Of The Following: Sea Salt, Sodium Lactate (From Beets), Organic Honey, Organic Evaporated Cane Syrup, Organic Celery Juice, Celery Powder, Lactic Acid Starter Culture (Not From Milk).

Applegate Cheddar Slices: Pasteurized Organic Milk, Cultures, Enzymes (Non-Animal), Salt, Annato, Made With Vegetable Rennet.

Triscuit Hint of Salt: Whole Wheat, Soybean And/Or Palm Oil, Salt.


Out of the Box FoodSM Lunch Box Cracker-Stacker

Special Equipment: bento style lunch box, 1 1/2″ round cookie cutter


  • Natural (nitrite/nitrate free) deli meats
  • Natural, unprocessed sliced cheese or block cheese sliced thin
  • Natural crackers
  • Sliced veggies: tomato, cucumber, avocado, etc…
  • Sliced fruit (optional): apples, strawberries, pears, etc…


  • To make the “Lunchable” style cracker-stackers, cut out slices of deli meat and cheese with the 1 1/2″ round cookie cutter.
  • Slice veggies & fruit.
  • Stack in compartmentalized, bento style lunch box


Fun lunches don’t (and shouldn’t) need to be processed.  By thinking a bit out of the box, we can create the lunches our kids want with quality, natural ingredients.  Don’t forget to share your Healthy Lunch Box Ideas on our LUNCH BOX IDEA SHARE for a chance to win a prize from Applegate Farms.  Contest ends September 10th.  Until next week…



© 2011 – 2012, kimgerber. All rights reserved.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Jill @ Healthy Kiddo Snacks September 21, 2011 at 9:43 am

What a great idea to cut out the meats and cheeses for easier stacking. I’ll have to try this out for my daughter’s next lunch. Thanks for the great ideas!


Theresa September 19, 2011 at 12:41 pm

This is a cute idea for sure! I’d love to know how the nutritional information stacks up beyond the artificial ingredients. Also I wonder what the cost difference is? I’d never touch a Lunchable for my kids, but am still curious.


kimgerber September 21, 2011 at 9:18 am

Great questions, Theresa. I am not a nutritionist, so my response is based solely on my calculations and research. That being said, here are my findings:
Lunchable – 1 serving =
Calories 340
Total Fat 19g
Saturated Fat 9g
Sodium 1110mg

My lunchable w/ 1 serving Applegate products & Pinch of Salt Triscuits (w/o added fruits & veggies):
Calories: 280
Total Fat 12.5g
Saturated Fat 5.5g
Sodium 630mg

Difference between Out of the Box Food Cracker Stacker & Oscar Mayer Lunchable:
Calories – OOTBF 60 < Lunchable
Total Fat – OOTBF 6.5g < Lunchable
Saturated Fat – OOTBF 3.5g < Lunchable
Sodium – OOTBF 450mg < Lunchable

Add the fruits & veggies as in the homemade version and in my opinion (chemicals aside) it scores far higher nutritionally.

As far as cost, that would be dependent on what brand of natural products you purchase, what market, coupons, etc.

I hope this answers your question. It was a good exercise for me too!


Ludicrous Mama August 30, 2011 at 8:39 pm

At the deli you can get them to custom slice your meat thicker, so it takes cutter shapes more easily, and is more like a Lunchable slice. At my deli it’s a “2” setting, which is twice as thick as their regular cut. Since fresh deli meat only lasts around 5 days in the fridge, I wash my hands and surface area really well, and pre-cut all my meat shapes, and divide them into snack baggies (and press out all the excess air.) Then I put all but one or two of those into a freezer bag and freeze it. Meat lasts longer, and I can keep a packet or two in the fridge thawing at a time, as I need them.
For the scraps I make myself pita pocket sandwiches with them (so the bits stay in,) or add them to cheese melts (the melty cheese keeps the bits in the sandwich,) or use a side-sealing sandwich press, like UnKrustables or the round one from Pampered Chef, since sealing the sides also seals in the meat bits! If I have more scraps than we’ll eat in a week, I bag up and freeze the rest until the first batch is done with.
I also use other mini cookie cutters to make it more fun. Little gingerbread “cheese men,” mini Easter ducks or bunnies, whatever theme shape your child will love the most.


Laura @MOMables August 30, 2011 at 7:14 pm

Kim, i love that you are showing parents “options” to traditional store bought lunches! Often times, parents just need a plan and a visual to see that it’s not that hard or time consuming to make things at home! Fresh food is so much better! We love Applegate Farms over at MOMables! Their quality is superior and it’s readily available to purchase!


Linda August 30, 2011 at 1:56 pm

Such a good compromise. Nice job. Doesn’t seem like enough food but for a little kid, it could work. How do you keep the stacks from sliding around? Little mini muffin cups could work or could pack in those tiny 2 oz sauce containers.


kimgerber August 30, 2011 at 2:03 pm

I added extra turkey & cheese for my 7 year olds and a piece of fruit. The little muffin cups are a great idea! The Easylunchbox worked really well and the food didn’t seem to move around too much when I put four items in the larger compartment but I imagine that the mini muffin cups would be a great addition!


Ludicrous Mama August 30, 2011 at 8:45 pm

I like using silicone muffin cups (regular size,) since they don’t slide around as much as paper ones would, and aren’t as wasteful… although if I’m doing a fun themed lunch, I will use paper liners that go with the theme, if I have any. And for bigger kids, just add more food! You could put the crackers, cheese and meat into different muffin cups in the larger compartment, then fill the littler compartments with fruits and veggies, and something else in a fourth muffin liner in the space left in the larger compartment. I limit my dessert portions (when I include them) to mini and regular-sized muffin cups (depending on the size of the treat. Chocolate covered raisins go in a mini cup. A cookie or yogurt-covered pretzels would go in a larger one. I try not to overflow. A whole cupcake would practically fill a toddler’s tummy, so if they get to pick what they eat first, most kids would start with dessert! So I make sure to limit the serving size for sugar, as well as to leave ample room in their fist-sized bellies for the healthy options!


Kristin August 29, 2011 at 4:27 pm

I liked Applegate on Facebook.


Kristin August 29, 2011 at 4:26 pm

I liked OOTBF on Facebook.


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