Last Updated on May 21, 2023 by Michael Brockbank
Lunchables are an incredibly popular meal for some or a snack for others. And although they’re relatively inexpensive, your not getting the best nutritional value for the money. What can you do to make your own homemade Lunchables to make them more healthy?
Actually, making your own Lunchable isn’t all that difficult, especially when you break down what goes into each package.
What is in a Lunchable from Kraft?
Because the Lunchable brand has so many variations, today, I’m just focusing on the small, 4-part meal container from Kraft. These are the $1.98 Lunchables you can find at virtually any Walmart, Target, or any other grocery store.
In these packages, there are four parts to the meal/snack.
- 6 Generic Crackers
- 6 Slices of Ham
- 6 Slices of Cheddar Cheese
- 2 Vanilla Creme Cookies
Essentially, this can be broken down into meat, cheese, a surface to use for the meat and cheese, and a dessert of some kind. So, essentially stack a slice of meat and a slice of cheese on the cracker and eat it.
The Lunchable I’m featuring here is 340 calories with 39g of carbs and 11g of protein. Most of the calories and carbs are coming from the cookies. But I got to admit, I like the vanilla creme flavor.
The total weight of the foods, not including the package, is approximately 96g. I only recorded this so that we could get a decent comparison of how much food you’ll eat by making your homemade Lunchable.
As you can see, it’s not all that difficult to make a one-to-one comparison. It all comes down to what you want to put into your meal.
Making Your Homemade Lunchables
Creating your own Lunchable is actually pretty easy. Once you know the portions and what to include, it’s relatively cheap and easy. Then, you can build them how you want for your specific tastes, wants, and nutritional needs.
There are five important elements to making your homemade Lunchables:
If you plan on prepping a few throughout the week, you’ll want some 4-section containers to keep each food type separated. I use the Easy Lunch Boxes, 4-compartment containers.
Not only are these containers BPA-free, but they’re also dishwasher and microwave safe.
In any case, it’s simple just to drop your homemade Lunchable into the container, seal it up, and set it in the fridge for a few days at a time. However, you don’t want it to sit too long. The cheese can get a little…well, slimy after prolonged periods of time.
The Types of Meat
In the Kraft version of a Lunchable, the Ham and Cheese tray comes with about 26g of meat. These are evenly sliced, circular pieces of ham of which you get six. This is so you can prepare each cracker evenly.
In any case, you can easily substitute the meat for anything you’d like. In my case, I used 12 slices of Great Value pepperoni. The idea was to have two slices per cracker.
The 12 slices of pepperoni weighed in at about 20g. It was slightly less meat than the Kraft tray, but I’d rather have pepperoni. So, I felt it was a good trade.
Technically, you can use any meat you wish. Even if you want to toss in 26g of turkey jerky, it all depends on what you want. The idea, though, is to keep the meat as close to 26g as possible.
That is as long as you’re trying to prepare a one-to-one homemade Lunchable.
The Types of Cheese
In the store-bought tray, you get six narrow slices of sharp cheddar. Again, this is so you can evenly prepare a cracker with meat and cheese.
The cheese itself weighs around 20g. In my case, I used two slices of Sargento Colby-jack cheese folded in half, twice. The total weight was around 26g, which is slightly more than the Kraft version and it gave me eight slices.
So, two of my crackers got a bit of a cheese bonus. I prefer Colby-jack to sharp cheddar anyway. And I like Sargento because I am a bit bougie when it comes to cheese.
When adding your own cheese, try to hit anywhere around the 20g mark. This gets a bit more difficult if you’re trying to evenly use the meat and cheese together on a single cracker.
The crackers you get in the Kraft Lunchable are a bit of a generic Ritz. You get six that weigh in at a total of 18g. That way, you get one slice of meat and one slice of cheese for every cracker.
When it comes to adding your own crackers, you can essentially toss in anything that strikes your fancy. Personally, I made my Lunchable using Nut Thins. I kind of developed a taste for them when I lived in a hotel for a month and a half.
I’m sure it wouldn’t be too bad if you used saltines or another type of cracker. Essentially, you only need it to hold the meat and cheese anyway.
Now comes one of the heavier parts of a Lunchable in terms of calories and carbs: the cookies. In the Kraft tray, you get two, vanilla creme cookies that weigh around 32g in total. And although I do like the taste of these vanilla creme cookies, there are healthier alternatives you can choose from.
I went with the keto-friendly Highkey Chocolate Chip cookies.
The overall idea of the cookie is to simply provide a “dessert” for after lunch. Essentially, you can include anything from fruit to using the section of the tray to cool jello.
In fact, the trays I use are roughly a half-cup serving. This means that it’s a great fit to prepare a serving of sugar-free jello, which would vastly impact the calorie and carb count of your Lunchable.
Now that I bring that up, I’m kind of disappointed I didn’t do that. Perhaps I’ll perfect a recipe for my homemade Lunchable and add it to our collection.
How My Homemade Lunchables Came Out
It’s difficult to get an exact one-to-one comparison with the food I have at the house. So, my homemade Lunchable wasn’t nearly as precise.
After all, Kraft made sure that there were six crackers, six slices of ham, and six slices of cheese. That’s perfect to have six, bite-sized edibles.
My Lunchable alternative consisted of:
- 6 Nut Thins crackers (because I like almond Nut Thins)
- 12 slices of Great Value Pepperoni (I like pepperoni)
- 8 small slices of Sargento Colby-Jack cheese (two, full slices split into fours)
- 7 Highkey Mini Chocolate Chip Cookies (one serving total, and Keto friendly)
In total, the Lunchable I made came out to weigh 83g while supporting 440 calories, 24g of carbs, and 17g of protein. Sure, it’s higher in calories, but it’s better in terms of carbs and proteins.
Not to mention that a lot of what I used also has a lower net-carb count.
The biggest impact on calorie count is coming from using two slices of Sargento Colby-Jack cheese, a full serving of Highkey Mini Cookies, and the Nut Thins. Just dialing back the Highkey cookies to a half-serving would reduce the calories by 65 and the carbs by 6g.
To be honest, I don’t really think I need a full serving of the cookies, anyway.
What this means is that despite being a bit higher in calories, I’d rather have my homemade Lunchables considering they’re lower in carbs and higher in protein. Something like this would be ideal on days that I go to the gym.
If I made it with the sugar-free jello, it would have ultimately blown the Kraft version away, hands down.
Ideas for Homemade Keto Lunchables
If you’re trying to stick to a keto-friendly Lunchable, the most important aspects to consider are the crackers and desserts. Virtually every meat and cheese is allowed on a keto diet. Though, you’ll want to make sure before slicing them up.
Essentially, you want something that is low-net-carb.
Unfortunately, it’s extremely difficult to find crackers to serve the purpose at your local Walmart. Well, it was in my case. It doesn’t seem like anyone nearby stocks keto crackers of any kind. Though, I haven’t checked Natural Grocers. It’s kind of like a Whole Foods.
I was able to find some keto crackers on Amazon that would serve the purpose of creating a keto Lunchable. Unfortunately, I haven’t tried them myself, so I don’t know how well they would go with various meats and/or kinds of cheese.
To make a low-carb Lunchable, you simply need something to act as an edible surface for the toppings. This can literally be anything you want. Or if you don’t mind eating cheese and meat with your fingers, you can substitute crackers for keto-friendly granola or perhaps a half-serving of Parm Crisps.
When measuring out your cracker replacement, make sure you’re supplementing 18g or close to it. The idea is to provide enough of a meal to satiate you. This might mean halving or even quartering a serving size of a keto replacement.
There is a slew of keto snacks you can easily use for desserts in your keto Lunchables. We often use Keto Krax, and I have a penchant for sugar-free jello. As I mentioned earlier, I also like the Highkey cookies.
Another great alternative is perhaps a half-serving of almonds. One of my favorites is the Blue Diamond dark chocolate roasted variety.
But if you don’t mind preparing several Lunchable containers, you can easily fit a serving of sugar-free jello in the snack section. I know…I am pushing the jello thing pretty hard. That’s because I am still astounded that I didn’t think of this earlier.
You can bet that the next few that I make will feature jello. Now I’m curious as to the calorie and carb count.
What Are Your Favorite Homemade Lunchables Combinations?
When it comes to setting up DIY Lunchables, the only thing you really need to concern yourself with is proper portion sizes. You can essentially use anything you want as long as it fits into the container.
Making homemade Lunchables has the potential to save you a bit of money while letting you put together your favorite combinations. All it takes is a bit of time to properly weigh things out and put them together.
What kind of Lunchable would you make for yourself or your family?