At the market a few days ago we picked up a few things we knew we absolutely needed and thanks to visiting family and their efforts to feed us while we were guests my food budget was flush and we had some rare wriggle room to try some new things. One of the new things that I picked up was a shelf-stable meal tray from Barilla.
This product is about $2.50 a unit and comes in recycled cardboard wrapper, the meal itself is stored in a two-section plastic tray. You take the tray out of the cardboard, easily done, peel the cover to the clearly marked dotted line and microwave for a minute. Then you peel the cover off the rest of the way and discard. The sauce is on the left in a removable sub-tray and it’s very easy to manipulate and pour the sauce onto the pasta. Mix with a fork and enjoy. Everything is recyclable, the cardboard and the tray plastic itself, I appreciate that.
As for the quality of the meal, it’s a good lunch and only has 320 calories. This particular variety featured 51% whole wheat pasta. Whole wheat pasta is different than the plain type, as the fiber makes the pasta more al-dente than you’d originally expect. The taste was right along with what I expected, it was quite good. You have to understand that the taste of whole wheat pasta is more woody than it’s plain alternative however for what it lacks in the texture department with standard pasta it makes up for by featuring 11g of fiber and 10g of protein.
The product is shelf-stable for about three months, so buying a few of them and using them for lunches at work shouldn’t make you end up throwing them away because they expired. There is a clear claim on the label that this product has “No Preservatives” which I like. This particular variety has an ingredient list that I can clearly understand with items that you can find in a market without having to resort to a chemical supply house. This variety also does not have monosodium glutamate, which for me is very important.
Overall I quite enjoyed it and I can recommend it to anyone else looking for a cheap lunch alternative. It certainly beats the mystery chemicals that the popular open-for-lunch restaurants use, plus you can’t beat the price and the speed at which it is ready. Because it only cooks for one minute, there is no need to fiddle with covers or wrappers or have to worry about the product bursting over the edge like some soups do when microwaved.
One thing to note, this product has 710mg of sodium, so its less than some soups have, which can blow your mind with the amount of sodium, so if you are trying to be careful with sodium, this might be an option if you can afford this much sodium.
I definitely will be buying more of these trays next time I go to the market.