Spaghettios – Tasty?

A tasty 62% more cost than homemade and 9 times the fat, with added sodium and corn syrup (and a couple of odd ingredients.)

Are these not the ultimate kid food?  Less than $1.00 a can, I bought mine on sale for $.89 today so I could get to know that label intimately.  (That’s 95 cents a pound equivalent, by the way)  My son was psyched, “Like YOU bought me Spaghettios?”  I’ve personally always considered these types of items as being  the equivalent of a human canned cat food and have avoided them like the plague – but I see people literally dumping them in their baskets when they’re on sale.

They go on special often, and they do have a nice, solid feel in the hand.  It’s 15 oz of ease; any child can pour them into a bowl and stick them into the microwave.  Good for you?  It says right on the can a full serving of veggies and a full serving of grains, plus 6 essential vitamins and minerals.  It also says “The little O-shaped pasta in a tasty (here’s that word “tasty” again) tomato sauce that kids love.”

Also on the can you can find the ingredients:

  • Water
  • Tomato Puree (water, tomato paste)
  • Enriched Macaroni Product
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup
  • Contains less than 2% (my calculations are less than 2 teaspoons, so we know right away that there are at least 2 teaspoons of corn syrup in this product because corn syrup is listed above this disclaimer)
  • salt
  • enzyme modified cheddar
  • disodim phosphate
  • natural flavorings
  • potasium chloride
  • vegetable oil
  • enzyme modified butter (milk)
  • oleorisin paprika
  • spice extract
  • citric acid
  • nonfat dry milk

Here is what you are getting if you dissect the label:

  • 2 oz of macaroni product
  • 1 cup of tomato sauce made from watered tomato paste
  • over 2 teaspoons of high fructose corn syrup
  • a smidge of milk, nonfat dry milk, oil and cheese with a bit of paprika for flavor (each less than 2 teaspoons)

Just goes to show you that if you throw a little sugar, fat and cheese on something, kids love it!  Heck, usually I do!

A homemade equivalent cost : About 40 cents.

  • tomato sauce (99 cents for 29 ounces, use 8 oz)  27 cents
  • macaroni-by the way, it’s ALL enriched (1.00 for 16 oz, bought on sale today, use 2 ounces) 13 cents
  • 2 t of milk and cheese – (negligible)  lets say 5 cents
  • a touch of paprika, dash of Italian spice

Here’s the nutritional breakdown per serving:

Cost Cal Fat Chol Sodium Carbs Fiber Sugars Prot
Spaghettios 0.89 180 18 g 5 mg 630 mg 37 g 3 g 13 g 6 g
Homemade 0.55 143 2 g 6.5 mg 286 mg 26 g 3 g 9 g 6.5 g

Now I know the price difference is in the amount of pennies, 34 cents, but I can’t tell you how often I see people loading up on can after can of these products.  Sometimes I’ve even seen them on sale for less.  My son LOVES these things, and we’ve never bought them on a regular basis, so he thinks they are the ultimate treat (yeah, I know, I’m embarrassed!)

Spaghettios actually cost 62% more than a homemade product.  The danger doesn’t lie in buying a can now and then, but in buying multiple cans on a regular basis.

The product comes in a 15 oz can, 2 servings, but I’ve seen kids as young as seven or eight take down their own can, pop it in the bowl, place it in the microwave and polish off the whole thing as a snack before dinner, thereby displacing good quality whole grains and possibly a variety of vegetables.  Don’t even mention the added sugar and extra fat.  (A 6 ounce steak has about 11 g of fat, a Snickers about 13 g and a can of  Spaghettios, 36 g – go figure…)

If you were to buy, say 10 cans of spaghettios, you’d be paying $8.90 as opposed to paying around $5.50 for a homemade version.  Which product would you choose if they were side by side in the store with an ounce for ounce comparison?  (Small pasta takes about five minutes to boil, by the way.)

I don’t have a fake Spaghettios recipe, and would be very interested to try yours, if you have one.  It would make sense to me to put these in small containers that can easily be put in the freezer, then the microwave.

I am intrigued  in this recipe by Healthy Living.  She uses a Vitamax, for the sauce, but has suggestions for other processing means, blenders, food processors, etc, and even has a recipe for the tiny little meatballs.  She has an Amazon source for the little ring noodles, but I wouldn’t have a problem substituting other small pasta.

The Vitamix Whole Foods recipe cookbook on page 147 has a recipe, modified by a blogger.  She has a few options:  “If you don’t want to use the stove, you may want to omit the onions and garlic as they will become very pungent when blended raw.  Or, you could chop the onion and garlic and place them in a small bowl that can be used in the microwave and cook them for a minute before adding to the other ingredients. This will take away the pungent flavor.”

Version of the Vitamin Tomato Pasta Sauce

  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped
  • 2    cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2   14 ounce cans chopped tomatoes, undrained
  • 2    tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2    tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil
  • 1    teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1    teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup red wine, optional
  • salt to taste

Place chopped onion and garlic in a microwave proof bowl and cook for 1 minute or until onion and garlic are softened.  Remove from microwave and place in Vitamix container.  Add remaining ingredients, except salt, to container.  Cover the container with the lid and place on mixer base.  Select Variable speed 1 and quickly increase speed to 10, then to high.  Run for 4 to 5 minutes until sauce is hot.  Taste and add salt as desired.

If you want a chunkier sauce, set aside a 1/2 cup of the chopped tomatoes before adding the chopped tomatoes to the container.  After the sauce is hot, reduce speed to Variable speed 4, remove lid plug and add the reserved 1/2 cup of chopped tomatoes.  Blend for 10 to 15 seconds.

Another thing you can do is purchase the sundried tomatoes in oil with garlic and herbs which will add additional flavor to your sauce if you choose to omit the onions and garlic.  Also, you can buy tomatoes that are flavored with basil, garlic and oregano and use that in place of the regular canned tomatoes.   Delmonte has a variety of herb flavored canned tomatoes including one with basil, garlic, and oregano.

Final Frugal Judgement?  No to spaghettios – I ain’t readi for this spaghetti!

2010 Voluntary Recall of Spaghettios - a cooker in Texas Spaghettios plant leaves 15 million – that’s 15 MILLION pounds of beef undercooked!

Comments and discussion always welcome - tell me what you think.

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