Betty Crocker Pouch Potatoes – Pouch Worthy?

Somehow, I got a link to go and sign up for Betty Crocker’s new 80 calorie Pouch Potatoes.  Being Irish, it was so hard to turn down free potatoes, so I went and signed up for my free sample.  And then I promptly forgot about it, because it is so rare that those things actually show up.

Today, however, they showed up!  And what perfect timing!  The menu for the evening was planned to be meatloaf, green beans and mashed potatoes, but having broken my potato peeler last week, I was not looking forward to having to peel my potatoes with a paring knife.  Betty Crocker saved the day!

The sample we received is for Homestyle Creamy Butter Potatoes, one of three flavors available in the new 80 calorie pouches.  From a gastric bypass standpoint, there is 1 gram of sugar, 1.5 grams of fat, and 2 grams of protein – but this is a pouch of potatoes, and you know you probably shouldn’t eat too much of them – 17 grams of carbs.  There are 4 portions in this pouch, and each portion is 80 calories.  We got 4 portions and threw a lot of potatoes away.

When you open the pouch, the first thing you notice is an odd smell.  It doesn’t smell like potatoes, and it doesn’t smell like creamy butter, although it is advertised as both.  And essentially, this is a pouch of powder.  They give you two ways to prepare the potatoes – the first one, Microwave directions, is subtitled “Ready in Only 3 Minutes!”.  The second option, Stove-Top, touts “Rich, Creamy Texture!”  Well, the stove top version doesn’t actually involve much in the way of stove top preparation, so I opt for the “Rich, Creamy Texture!” and follow those directions.

You boil 2 cups of water, pour the powder into a bowl, and then pour the boiling water over the powder, stir it in, and let it stand for 2 minutes.  I don’t know how this works in Betty Crocker’s kitchen, but in my kitchen, I did not allow for any water loss due to the steam from the teapot, but I assume I am pretty darn close to the 2 cups of water.  I pour it over the powdered potatoes (which, by the way, have what I am hoping and praying are flecks of potato skins because there are a few brownish uglyish things in here), and stir it in.  I feel like there is too much water, even though I carefully measured the 2 cups.  I let it stand for the 2 minutes it takes me to slice the meatloaf, and then I come back to “whip it”, as instructed by the Betty Crocker Kitchen wizards.

There’s that smell again.  It’s not a pleasant, buttery smell; it’s more like a plastic smell with artificial butter aroma thrown in.  It’s unpleasant, and even as I put a tablespoon full of the soupy potatoes on my plate, I know I’m not going to be able to get this down.  It doesn’t fluff up or thicken to the point that you think it’s real, homemade mashed potatoes – unless you are making them for an infant trying potatoes for the first time so your purposefully make them very thin.  But my kids don’t even balk at the consistency.  It’s the SMELL.

So, I read the front of the package again to see if this is indeed real potatoes, and it says, right under the familiar Betty Crocker logo “made with 100% REAL MASHED POTATOES” – and yes, that’s all in caps on the pouch.  Then I read the ingredients.  Potatoes are listed first, but there is an asterisk that indicates they are dried potatoes.  Well, of course – how else could they have made this powdery substance in the bag.  The second ingredient is powdered cellulose WHAT?  I don’t know what that is either, but I know I probably shouldn’t eat it.  Mixed in with some ingredients I can’t pronounce, let alone spell out for you here, it does say butter, and then it also says “less than 2% of natural flavor”.  Well, had I read that first, I’d know why my Betty Crocker pouch of potatoes smells like plastic butter.

There are other things in here – anti caking agents, artificial colors, and soy flour – be careful if you are sensitive to soy products – but really, with no other eating problems in my house except my gastric bypass, it doesn’t matter a whole lot what’s in the thing.  The taste is what matters, and even my resident potato-a-holic scrapes the nasty, gooey mess off of her plate.

So, while it is much easier than peeling potatoes, boiling potatoes, and mashing potatoes; and cheaper then grabbing the already prepared Country Crock potatoes, Betty Crocker 80 Calorie Pouch Potatoes are definitely NOT pouch worthy.  They won’t find a place on our pantry shelves.