Well, it wouldn't be the beginning of the year without looking at the lighter options available at Trader Joe's. Now, I've had my fair share of Mac and Cheese offerings from the Pepperoni Mac and Cheese, Truffle Mac and Cheese, Gluten-Free Mac and Cheese, Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese, and Hatch Chile Mac and Cheese. And yes, they are mostly pretty good.
This product is scaled down from the classic Diner Mac and Cheese. Now, on a surface level, the Diner Mac and Cheese doesn't look too bad when you think about the calorie count. However, if you mistakenly grab that item for lunch you (or your waist) might be in for a rude awakening at over 700 calories.
So here you get a decent amount of cheesy pasta. The texture of the pasta isn't bad all things considered. It still retains its texture and doesn't microwave into mush.
So yes, you are compromising a bit in terms of richness here compared to the Diner Mac and Cheese. In fact, you are getting less of a cheese blend.
While the Diner Mac and cheese had a few more cheese and was full fat, here this product is more one note: cheddar.
Now, the one thing that is sorely lacking from trader Joe's lineup is a low carb option. And it would be nice in 2019 if they could add some cheesy zoodles that are well done. And yes, they did play around with the concept this past Thanksgiving with Harvest Spaghetti Squash Spirals. That product wasn't bad, but it was seasonal, leaving a bit of a gap with those of us who like cheesy, healthier noodles (or zoodles).
For $1.99 this is on par with other brands on mac and cheese. You are not going to get those familiar pulls of fresh cheese that so many of us look forward to, but you won't get the calorie count either.
Would I buy this again? Yes, if you are looking to be mindful of calories and not sacrifice the taste too much this is a great choice. It's not nearly as rich as Trader Joe’s Truffle Mac and Cheese but not nearly the number of calories. Worth a try, I just wished there wasn't so much empty space in the black plastic container.
It was tasty, cheesy, but seemed a bit underfilled in terms of the container it comes in. It didn't overpower me with saltiness, it was well-balanced. Would it make a good lunch? Yes, but you should bring a protein with you to supplement it.
The box of Trader Joe's Reduced Guilt Mac and Cheese:
Ingredients and directions
Out of the package you get:
After being cooked you get:
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The Bottom Line
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Trader Joe's Reduced Guilt Mac and Cheese
Product Name: Trader Joe's Reduced Guilt Mac and Cheese
Product Description: Trader Joe's Reduced Guilt Mac and Cheese has fewer calories and fat than the diner mac and cheese.
Trader Joe's Reduced Guilt Mac and Cheese is a pretty good lightened up mac and cheese all things considered.
- Tasty, didn't taste reduced guilt, a well done mac and cheese with a good amount of cheesiness and a nice level of salt. Pasta was well cooked out of the microwave.
- My microwave cooked Trader Joe's Reduced Guilt Mac and Cheese in 3 minutes. Did not really need stirring.
- Small portion size at 7 ounces as there is a lot of empty space in the container and literally a single layer of pasta. You'll notice the stringiness of the cheese missing from this.
- To make this healthier they could have used a pasta with more fiber in it to make you feel more full.