Thursday, October 15, 2020

Kroger Slim Rite Vanilla Meal Replacement Shake (Kroger)

I suppose it's good if you like drinking half-and-half.


Well, earlier this month we took a look at Kroger's chocolate meal replacement powder, so now it only makes sense that we would take a look at the other variety they offer: vanilla. (Actually, I typically wouldn't do that, as vanilla isn't my favorite standalone flavor, but my wife happened to already have some in the pantry, so that's why it makes sense.)

Like the chocolate, this powder comes in a rather large 13 oz. tub, good for “about 14 servings”. That certainly isn't bad for $3, which is its normal retail price, especially since the individual bottles of weight loss shake often go for around $1 per bottle, if not more. Also included in the tub: a plastic scoop. Sure, these are frequently included in dieting powders, but it's not something I take for granted, so I certainly appreciate its inclusion here. Also appreciated is the simple prep: add a rounded scoop to 8 oz. of milk, mix it up, and you're good to go.

The one thing I really hated about the otherwise good chocolate powder was that, no matter how much I mixed it, there was always a large collection of powder that accumulated at the top. At first, I thought it was because I put too much powder in (despite following the simple instructions), but I found that no matter how little I put in, it still happened; when it also happened to my wife, that's when I knew it was just a product flaw. That was definitely a frustrating issue when the shake barely tasted like chocolate, yet had enough sitting at the top to properly flavor it; also frustrating when the final drinks of every serving were just large clumps of wet, unmixed powder.

The vanilla version, thankfully, fixes that issue: all of it seemed to mix in pretty quickly, with no large clumps left behind. The consistency is about what you would expect from a powder: slightly thicker than a regular liquid, but not at all something I would typically categorize as a “shake”. Unfortunately, it offsets that by falling a little bit short in the taste department.

For starters, it's very sweet—I would say it comes off as even sweeter than the chocolate—and reminds me a lot of half-and-half, in both taste and appearance. I was one of those kids that liked to drink the little single-serve half-and-half cups every once in a while (and, come to think of it, even really enjoyed the French vanilla flavored ones), but the difference is that those were in little cups—two or three and I had my fill. Here, in much larger 8 oz. servings, it just doesn't have the same appeal. Now, the flavor isn't nearly as strong as those—otherwise I would have gotten sick a couple drinks in—but it's along those same lines, so it's the rather unfortunate flavor profile you can expect.

Also a little more off-putting here: there's that same “wooden” aftertaste that I also got with the chocolate version. Again, it's not just relegated to Kroger's powders, because I've gotten similar aftertastes with other mixes, but I find it to be more noticeable and annoying with the lighter, less familiar vanilla flavor. But in case it's just me, it's literally a weird, “pulpy” (for lack of a better term) that hits you as you drink it, then quickly disappears without leaving much of an aftertaste. I'm sure it has something to do with the fact it's in powdered form, as I don't recall that taste appearing in the pre-bottled, ready-to-drink shakes, but I do notice it even in most chocolate milk mixes.

At any rate, the whole 14 serving tub typically costs just $2.99 in our market, making it a great cost-effective alternative to the aforementioned bottles, which often go for $1 or more, per bottle. That makes it a great value compared to those, with the only caveat that you have to make it yourself, something so easy even I can do it without issue. That means the value is here in spades; personally, though, I would stick to the chocolate variety.

Overall: 5.5/10. I'm not typically a huge fan of French vanilla flavors, and this one does nothing to change that outlook, offering up a taste that's strongly reminiscent of vanilla half-and-half. It does go down pretty smooth, though, thanks to its thin texture, and isn't very strong, so despite that description, isn't nearly as gross or undrinkable as it could have been. Thankfully, the powder seems to mix in to the milk a lot better than the chocolate did, leaving no large, unmixable clumps at the top that overwhelm the final couple of drinks—that is a huge win. Ditto that for the price, which is just $2.99 for a 14 serving, 13 oz. tub (with included measuring scoop!) Personally, I would stick to the chocolate if I ever grabbed this again in the future, but for fans of vanilla, this one certainly delivers enough value to make it worth a look.

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