We love pasta; the hubby is Italian after all. We eat it at least twice a week. For years, we bought whatever kind of pasta was on sale. Then when whole wheat pasta started to gain popularity, we wanted to give it a shot. It was not our favorite. After a few tries, we found the best whole wheat pasta was the specialty brands and definitely not store brands or bargain brands. We would occasionally pick up a box of whole wheat pasta but continued to use traditional pasta regularly.
When Barilla introduced their Plus pasta, I think around 2005, it was the answer to my underdeveloped taste for whole wheat pasta. Barilla Plus tastes great, less harsh than whole wheat and made up of good things. It was a seamless transition from traditional pasta for both my husband and I and it's the pasta Gavin started with.
Uncertain of the time line, to my delight (with a touch of confusion), Barilla Whole Grain showed up on the shelves - right next to Plus. Okay, what's the better choice now? Time to compare.
Barilla Plus ingredients: Semolina, grain and legume flour blend, [grains and legumes (lentils, chickpeas, flaxseed, spelt, barley, oats), egg whites, oat fiber], durum flour, niacin, iron (ferrous sulfate), thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid.
Barilla Whole Grain ingredients: Whole durum wheat flour, semolina, durum wheat flour, oat fiber.
Plus is made with added vitamins, grains and legumes resulting in a multi-grain pasta high in protein and high in fiber with Omega-3 Fatty Acids. The Whole Grain pasta has a straightforward ingredient list which includes whole durum wheat flour resulting in a pasta higher in fiber than Plus with the added benefits of whole grain* and a good source of protein. But keep in mind the whole grain version is still only 50% whole grain not 100%.
As for taste, I/we like both. Plus is less "grainy" but that's not to say Whole Grain is too "grainy" if you know what I mean. They're both pleasant in hot dishes and cold dishes. Upon serving Whole Grain in place of Plus to my three year old, he didn't even bat an eye. Pretty impressive. Both pastas provide better nutrition than traditional pasta. Whether you choose Plus or Whole Grain, you can't go wrong. Or if you have a hard time choosing, like I often do, do what I do and buy both.
As for price, I've found the Whole Grain to be less than Plus. Both are commonly on sale and that's when I stock up. Whole Grain is $1.32 a box and Plus is $1.84 - $2.19, depending on pasta shape (sale prices). I believe the regular price is around $2 - $2.49.
Switching to a multi-grain or an almost whole grain pasta is simple, affordable and healthy. It will deliver extra nutrition and not drastically change the taste of your pasta dishes. My Italian husband and picky three year old both give it a thumbs up, and that's saying something!
*A whole grain is the plant's entire kernel: the protective fiber-rich bran coating, the starchy endosperm, and the nutrient-rich germ. The bran and germ appear to be largely responsible for whole grains' health benefits