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Sometimes you just can't make it into the kitchen to cook. Dr. Gourmet has reviewed over 800 common convenience foods, ingredients, and restaurant selections so that you know what's worth eating - and what's not. View the Index of all Dr. Gourmet's Food Reviews

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Dr. Gourmet's Food Reviews

Kraft Kids' Meals



Dr. Gourmet reviews the Macaroni & Cheese with Roasted Chicken and Broccoli meal from Kraft

When I saw these on the shelf I thought they looked disgusting.

Kraft Macaroni & Cheese might be a household staple to anyone with children, but not only does that not mean it's good for them, it's just not very good, period. Over the years we here at DrGourmet.com have reviewed perhaps dozens of variations of macaroni and cheeses, from the traditional dry-pasta-with-powdered-cheese-in-a-box to frozen versions made with truffle oil.

One of the biggest problems with Mac and Cheese as a meal for children is that it's not a complete meal: there's a protein (the cheese) and some sort of grain (although usually a refined white flour and not whole grains), but there's no vegetable at all. I understand that kids can be picky, but if you don't put vegetables in front of them, they will never eat them.

A good example of kids' meals is from a review we did of two Earth's Best products back in 2016: while the presence of vegetables in the pizza is certainly arguable, the macaroni and cheese included a healthy portion of vegetables that weren't overcooked to flavorlessness.

The numbers for today's meals are reasonable: 290 calories, 570 milligrams of sodium, and 3 grams of fiber for the Mac and Cheese with Roasted Chicken and Broccoli, while the Grilled Chicken and Carrots version has the same amount of sodium and fiber with just ten more calories.

Dr. Gourmet reviews the Macaroni & Cheese with Roasted Chicken and Broccoli from Kraft - a picture of the actual meal

Well over half of the calories in this meal comes from the macaroni and cheese: white, mushy pasta with the faintest flavor of cheese ("And we use the term 'flavor' as a courtesy," quipped a panelist). This is Kraft mac and cheese at its most stereotypical: food for toddlers.

There is perhaps half an ounce of moderately dry, quite grainy chicken with a slightly sweet, rosemary-tinged sauce, but be warned: if you allow the chicken to sit it will stick together like it was dipped in sugar water.

The broccoli is the best part of the meal: cooked al dente with just the lightest whiff of butter-flavored sauce. Too bad there wasn't anything near a serving - not for toddlers and certainly not for adultsĀ 

Dr. Gourmet reviews the Macaroni & Cheese with Grilled Chicken and Carrots from Kraft

The Mac and Cheese with Grilled Chicken and Carrots is arguably better than the Roasted Chicken and Broccoli.

I say 'arguably' because one could argue that the slightly better-textured chicken in the Grilled Chicken and Carrots outweighs the overcooked and flavorless carrots vis a vis the broccoli.

Dr. Gourmet reviews the Macaroni & Cheese with Grilled Chicken and Carrots from Kraft - a photo of the actual meal

To be honest, it doesn't make much of a difference.

This is the same utterly mushy and only-cheese-flavored-by-courtesy pasta from Kraft, paired with three chunks of chicken - one quite gristly - topped with a faintly barbecue-flavored sauce and half an ounce of overcooked, flavorless carrots.

One of the panelists, who has a toddler at home, noted that this is something that he might well be seduced into choosing for his three-year-old when he wanted to leave the child at home with a baby sitter: "Finger-sized bits of chicken and veggies and mac and cheese I know they'll eat. Looks like a winner," he said.

You can do a lot better than this for less than the $2.79 per meal we spent at Winn-Dixie. Steam some broccoli and make some Creamy Mac and Cheese with whole grain pasta, and you can not only freeze the leftovers for the next time you have date night and leave your toddler at home with the baby sitter, but you can double the recipe and have great lunches all week with plenty of whole grains and vegetables. Quick meals don't have to be junk: don't teach your children that.

Review posted: February 15, 2019