It's 11 a.m., and a low grumbling in your stomach signals that it's nearly lunchtime. As you glance at the clock, you realize the effects of your morning coffee have faded, and that quick breakfast you grabbed on the way out is no longer sustaining you. In moments like these, you need a reliable, quick lunch option, especially when you've forgotten to bring something from home. This is precisely why Starbucks' protein boxes are a convenient solution to keep in mind.
Nestled among the cold sandwiches and yogurt, just below the pastry case, you'll find these nutrient-packed selections at your local Starbucks. But beyond their bento box style convenience, we were curious about how these boxes actually tasted, how well the individual components held up in terms of freshness and integrity, and ultimately, which ones stood out as favorites. So, we embarked on a taste-testing adventure with the available options and ranked them to help guide you in making the best choice for a satisfying and quick meal.
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What Are The Starbucks Protein Boxes?
In the summer of 2017, Starbucks introduced protein boxes into its daily food offerings. Initially, the variety of these boxes was quite extensive, offering a range of options to suit different tastes. While the assortment available today may not be as vast as it was at its debut, these protein boxes have remained a staple in Starbucks locations across the U.S.
While Starbucks' egg bites and potato, cheddar & chive bakes both provide a solid amount of protein for their size, the concept behind these protein boxes is to offer compact assortments of food, each containing small quantities of various items, all selected for their high protein content. These boxes are designed for convenience and nutritional balance, offering a mix of fruits, cheeses, breads, and other protein-rich components.
A key feature of these boxes is their nutritional transparency. The information on the packaging represents the total nutritional value of the entire box, not just its individual components. This approach helps customers understand the full dietary impact of what they are consuming, aiding in making informed choices, particularly for those who are mindful of their nutritional intake.
Availability And Price
At our nearby Starbucks locations, we found a selection of three protein box varieties: Eggs and Cheddar, Cheese and Fruit, and Peanut Butter and Jam. Each of these options is considerably popular with Starbucks guests, and we've noticed that they're often listed as sold out by the end of the day, especially the Peanut Butter and Jam box. Due to their high demand, availability can be a challenge. To get ahead of the game, we recommend purchasing one early in the day and storing it in a refrigerator until lunchtime, ensuring you secure your preferred choice.
The pricing of these protein boxes varies between different Starbucks locations. Of the locations we visited to purchase all three, the Peanut Butter and Jam protein box is the most affordable, priced at $6.55 -- prices may vary by location. This is followed by the Cheese and Fruit box at $6.75, and the Eggs and Cheddar box at $7.25. All three options are valued at 300 Stars in the Starbucks rewards program. Therefore, if you have accumulated Stars, redeeming them for these protein boxes can be an excellent way to enjoy a free, protein-heavy lunch.
Peanut Butter And Jam
The Peanut Butter and Jam box was the most difficult one to find, even if it was our least favorite of the three. It included a peanut butter and strawberry jam half sandwich, mozzarella cheese stick, apples, carrots with dip, and chocolate-covered raisins. Despite our low expectations for the sandwich's condition, it surprisingly retained its shape well and wasn't mushy at all. However, the bread was notably dry, diminishing the sandwich's overall appeal, and we couldn't take more than a couple of bites. The mozzarella cheese stick was akin to traditional string cheese, peeling well to make those satisfying string cheese pieces.
In terms of fruit, this box offered only a few apple slices, yet these were the most well-preserved among the three boxes we sampled. The box was generous with carrots, and the accompanying ranch dip was creamy. We had high hopes for the chocolate-covered raisins, but they turned out to be disappointingly bland. In this instance, chocolate-covered espresso beans would have been a preferable choice. Nutritionally, this box contains 520 calories, with 28 grams of fat (of which 8 grams are saturated), 51 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of dietary fiber, and 20 grams of protein.
Cheese And Fruit
We found this box to be pretty widely available across our locations, and it includes sharp cheddar, gouda, and brie cheeses, accompanied by apples, grapes, and olive oil crackers. Initially, the crackers seemed unremarkable, but we discovered that when paired with the cheeses, they maintained their texture admirably and provided a nice contrast to the soft cheeses. The sharp cheddar was notably tangy, the brie was smooth with a pleasing texture, and although gouda isn't typically our preferred cheese, we can tell this selection of gouda is a good one, if more on the mild side.
We have found that these boxes tend to contain packaging inside that is a little difficult to open, and that was oddly the case for the crackers, we think the packaging across the boxes needs a little work to improve this inconvenience, especially since these boxes are designed for the on-the-go. The sturdiness of the crackers was a positive feature. From a nutritional standpoint, this box contains fewer calories at 470, 28 grams of fat (16 grams of which are saturated), 37 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of dietary fiber, and 20 grams of protein, the same protein count as the PB&J box.
Eggs And Cheddar
This protein box includes two cage-free hard-boiled eggs, cheddar cheese, multi-grain Muesli bread with a honey peanut butter spread, apples, grapes, and a packet of everything seasoning. The apples, resembling Honeycrisp in variety, showed slight browning and minor dents, with four slices included. Among the five grapes provided, some were in better shape than others.
The cheddar cheese was quite firm, offering a very mild, almost Mozzarella-like flavor. The eggs were perfectly hard-boiled, without any unpleasant odor, and appeared to be in excellent condition. A notable challenge was opening the seasoning packet, so having scissors nearby could be helpful. When the eggs were topped with everything seasoning, it created a delightful mix of flavors, with the seasoning's saltiness well-balanced by its other components. This combination was a highlight of the box.
The Muesli bread, soft and filled with plump raisins, was another pleasant surprise. It tasted good on its own and even better with the honey peanut butter spread. Nutritionally, the entire box contains the lowest calorie count of the three at 460, 24 grams of fat (7 grams saturated), 40 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of dietary fiber, and the highest protein count at 22 grams.
Are Starbucks Protein Boxes Worth Buying For Lunch?
We appreciate the convenience of selecting a protein box from Starbucks for a quick lunch. With each box containing 20 grams of protein or more, they're likely to keep you satiated for an extended period, which is especially helpful during that midday energy dip. An added bonus is the ease with which each item in the box can be consumed, even while working at a desk. Whether it's a quick bite during a busy workday or a snack while on the move, these protein boxes are a versatile choice.
They're also ideal for taking along on road trips, park visits, or as an addition to a picnic if you're looking for a quality high-protein fast food item. However, their high demand can make them difficult to find consistently, so relying on their availability can be a bit of a gamble. If you do come across them, we particularly recommend trying the Eggs and Fruit box or the Eggs and Cheddar box; you'll find both to be satisfying choices.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.