Packaged Lunch Review: Barilla Mezze Penne with Tomato & Basil Sauce

As you guys know - I've tried a number of frozen lunches and even a couple of shelf-stable products. Most of the shelf-stable aren't anywhere NEAR the top of my favorites - but I was willing to give one more another try...

I spotted these Barilla shelf-stable microwaveable meals at Meijer and had a coupon - so thought - what the heck?! I like pasta - and Barilla is a trusted name. They have five varieties and they all sounded pretty tasty. I went for the Tomato & Basil Penne.

I have to say - as a marketing person - the packaging might be my favorite part! It definitely stands out! The plastic bowl it's in is nearly one you'd save and reuse, the plastic on top is very sturdy and just feels "expensive" at least in the under $4 lunch arena. Also - what I liked is that the instructions were printed right on the package.

The sauce and pasta are separate - so you open the one partition to a dotted line - then microwave.

They also tell you to hold FIRMLY when you peel back the sauce and there's a reason for that! The seal is very sticky and I had to yank a little and spilled a bit of sauce (as you can see).

I was very skeptical - there was one shelf-stable that I had tried before that was DISGUSTING! It's part of why I started reviewing what would the verdict be?


I mean - as awesome as pasta and sauce can be...but really - it was great! I'd say it was BETTER than any frozen version that I've had and tasted pretty much like I had just cooked this at home.

I will definitely be purchasing this again!

Here are my notes:
  • Flavor - This tasted just like Barilla pasta sauce out of the jar. It's extremely fresh and full of tomato flavor!  
  • Meat - there's no meat here!
  • Time - IT COOKS IN 60 SECONDS!!! 
  • Cooking - Excellent - no issues! 
  • Cost - I don't remember but it was probably around $3 and I had a coupon
  • Nutrition - 320 calories, 4.5 grams fat, 690 mg sodium
  • Allergens - unsure...I don't have the package anymore
  • Fullness Factor - fantastic - I was shocked at how full I was. I had brought a salad to have with it but it wasn't even necessary. 

So don't hesitate to head out and purchase this one - it's a keeper! 

(I wasn't compensated for this - I paid for this product and nobody asked me to review it.)

And don't forget to enter my Heluva Good dip giveaway


  1. Sounds good, but i always wonder what's in them that make them shelf-stable.

  2. Not so shelf stable when I tried it. Noodles were covered in mold!

  3. There are no preservatives in this (all ingredients are identifiable and readable, which is a good thing if you ask me)! The Penne with marinara is my favorite! I will be buying these for my college dorm room! Hearty, healthier than some other shelf products, and delicious!!

  4. I just tried the classic marinara. It was great! The meals have less fat/calories that lean cuisine/smart ones meals, and are more filling. Will definitely buy again!

    A word of caution - Be careful when removing the film because it isn't easy to remove and it is easy to splash hot marinara on your hand.