Are Lunchables Healthy? Are They Bad For You?


Lunchables come in many shapes and forms as handy, small meals for kids. But they are the lifestyle equivalent of a video game in exchange for a basketball game in the sunshine. It doesn’t give your kids the nutrition or the energy they need. It dulls them and is addictive. 

This article will explain why Lunchables has become a go-to and why they are harmful. Their components and their deficiency in the light of real food will be explored. 

Why are Lunchables so popular? 

What do kids love about lunch? Pretty much nothing. They hate sitting down and not being able to play. They hate having to shove healthy, homemade casseroles or carrot sticks when all they want is pizza and candy. Mothers can understand the frustration of seeing a near-full lunchbox and efforts gone to waste.

Lunchables is a nifty little fix that taps into this problem spot. Mothers around the country feel tempted by these boxes of quick meals that are easy to handle and kids enjoy. Not only are they in flavors that kids like to eat, but they are also interactive. The kids can make their one lunches, which makes an otherwise boring time exciting and interesting. 

Lunchables that kids like the most include Pizza and Treatza, Light Bologna and American Cracker Stackers, Kabobbles, and Pepperoni Pizza. The Breakfast Bacon And Pancake Dipper and the Duo Dunks are also fan favorites. 

And let’s be honest moms. Sometimes, you just need a break! And doesn’t everyone like a shortcut now and then? 

Are Lunchables a good snack? 

Lunchables are convenient and if you have a fussy kid, at least some food will make it to their tummies. But Lunchables combos are highly processed, with a lot of white flour crackers, nachos, or tortillas. Pre-packaged meats and sauces also have very little nutritional value. 

The Fun Packs are worse because they have additional sweet drinks and cookies. There are no vegetables, no milk or healthy dairy (except for small amounts of cheese), and no fruit. While it’s okay once in a while, if you’re really busy, it’s better not to make it a habit. 

The portions are small and don’t have enough vitamins or minerals. In addition, such processed sugars and carbs increase your child’s risk of becoming obese or diabetic. It’s better to encourage school meals or a brown bag home lunch. 

Although they are advertised as being high in calcium and protein, the artificial nutrition from these snacks does not beat the natural wholesomeness of homemade food. Home-made lunches have many times more nutrition and 

Calories in Lunchables 

Even though Lunchables are small in terms of quantity, they are calorie-dense. The ingredients used are high in saturated fat and simple carbs. Each Lunchable’s calorie count varies depending on the ingredients used. The table below illustrates the calorie count in some popular varieties. 

Lunchable VarietyCalories 
Pizza: There are quite a few Pizza Lunchable varieties. These include the Oscar Mayer Uploaded Pepperoni Pizza, the Extra Cheesy Pizza Lunchable, and the Chicken Pizza. The calories for each sub-category are as follows: 
Pizza with Pepperoni – 320Pizza and Treatza- 320  Chicken Pizza – 220Extra Cheesy Pizza- 280
Ham and Cheese: The varieties within this category include the Ham & American Cracker Stackers, 6-Inch Turkey, and Ham Sub Sandwich, and the 6-Inch Ham + American Sub Sandwich.The calories for each sub-category are as follows: 6-Inch Turkey and Ham Sub Sandwich- 370 6-Inch Ham + American Sub Sandwich- 340Ham & American Cracker Stackers- 300
Nachos: Nacho Lunchables include the Nachos, Cheese Dip + Salsa, and the Uploaded Nacho Grande Cheese Dip+Salsa. The calories for each sub-category are as follows: Nachos, Cheese Dip + Salsa- 370 Grande Nachos, Cheese Dip + Salsa – 380 
Cookies: While cookie crumbs are used in many Lunchable items and cookies are added as a bonus in some, there are only one cookie-centric Lunchable. Lunchables Cookie Dunks-  240  
Turkey: This poultry is quite a fan favorite across Lunchable items. These include Turkey+Cheddar with Crackers, the 6-Inch Turkey + Cheddar Sub Sandwich, and the 6-Inch Turkey and Ham Sub Sandwich. The calories in each sub-category are as follows: 
Turkey+Cheddar with Crackers- 260 6-Inch Turkey + Cheddar Sub Sandwich- 400 6-Inch Turkey and Ham Sub Sandwich- 370 

*Please note that the calories pertain to only the main Lunchable itself. Additional snacks, sweets, and drinks, such as Capri-Sun, Kool-Aid, Pringles, Oreos, Fruit by the Foot, and others have additional calories. To know the calories for a whole pack, check the label for specific nutritional information. This may be subject to change as the contents alter. 

Why are Lunchables bad for you? 

Lunchables are filled with the worst additives and ingredients you can feed a growing child. Each Lunchbale has a questionable ingredient at the very least. Regular consumption can lead to a number of lifestyle diseases and other health ailments for kids. 

Let’s take the central Lunchable ingredients first. Lunchables like the Ham + American, Pepperoni + Mozzarella, and Light Bologna +American Cracker Stackers all use graham or ritz crackers. These are empty calories with no fiber. 

More importantly, they have hydrogenated cottonseed or other oils. These are high in trans fat, which causes cholesterol and heart disease. Not something you or your kids want to risk!  

In addition to these varieties, the Nachos, Cheese Dip, Salsa, and the 6-Inch Sub Sandwiches all contain Kraft Cheese, mainly cheddar. The cheese plus the deli meats have an enormous amount of sodium content. These can also build hypertension and increase the likelihood of obesity. 

The cheeses and meats contain several preservatives such as nitrite and nitrates. These may react with the deli meats to form nitrosamine which may be genotoxic and carcinogenic. In addition, there are other additives like emulsifiers, palm oil, and sodium benzoate all of which may be linked to developmental issues like ADHD and trouble concentrating. 

In addition to all these central ingredients, the supplementary snacks and drinks are even worse in terms of nutritive value. Kool-Aid, Kellog’s Rice Krispies Treats, Snack Stacks crisps, chocolate chip cookies, and Cheez-Its, are some of the few junk treats included in the packs. 

Are Lunchables safe for pregnant women? 

Pregnant women should avoid frequent consumption of Lunchables. They have many additives and chemical components that are harmful to an expecting mother and the unborn baby. The deli meats used may claim to be lean, but the cuts are quite fatty. 

Suc pre-packaged meats may contain a bacterium called Listeria. This can cause severe food poisoning called listeriosis, which can be very dangerous for women. The insufficient processing of such meat cuts can cause miscarriages, stillbirths, or meningitis in the woman or newborn baby. 

It can cause complications and retard the development of the fetus. Listeria is more likely to affect pregnant women since their immune systems are more vulnerable to attack. 

If you have cravings, it is best to eat the Lunchables meat after heating them to 165 Fahrenheit to kill any food-borne microbes. The large amounts of sodium may also cause hypertension and lead to preterm labor. The artificial additives may also cross the placental barrier and have adverse health effects. 

Are Lunchables safe for diabetics? 

Diabetics should avoid eating Lunchable packs. Certainly avoid the dessert Lunchables such as Dirt Cakes, S’Mores Dipper or Cookie Dunks. These have close to the maximum daily recommended intake of sugar for diabetics, which is close to 30 grams. 

But also stay away from the additional sweets that are a part of the pack. The drinks and chocolates alone will wreck your efforts to control your sugar intake. 

Processed foods like Lunchables can affect insulin resistance and cause rapid fluctuations in blood glucose levels. The simple carbohydrates in Lunchables don’t have much fiber and can be easily broken down by your digestive system.  

This can make both Type 1 and 2 diabetes worse and management more difficult. Regular consumption can lead to lifestyle illnesses that exacerbate diabetes. So keep those added drinks at arm’s length, because they may be a bonus for your buck but they will cost you in the long term. 

How long do Lunchables last? 

Lunchables usually last for about 3-5 weeks from the date of manufacture, if unopened. They should ideally be stored in a fridge or freezer in airtight containers so they keep out smells. If the Lunchable contains crackers, they should not be refrigerated, as they will go soggy. 

If left out in the open, the Lunchables will expire within 2-3 weeks or even less. The expiry date or manufacturing batch will be printed on the label. But if not, don’t consume the pack after 3 weeks. Although much of the goods are long-lasting and not easily perishable, they will go bad after a while. The meats that are smoked or cured with salt or brine will last longer. But after 3 weeks the possibility of bacterial and fungal growth increases. So they must be eaten before that or disposed of within a week of expiry. 

The age-old adage is true after all – shortcuts aren’t worth it. A healthy childhood is worth a few tantrums, right? So out with the Lunchables and back to the kitchen!