Food Uncovered: The Calorific Cost of Ready Meals

When it comes to ready meals, the Brit’s shop best. With over £62m worth of chilled ready meals being sold last year, they’re a all-time favourite dinner.

While these convenient suppers may be popular among supermarket shoppers, the content tells another story. Ready meals are often high in fat, sugar and salt alongside containing some very odd ingredients, most of which wouldn’t traditionally be in that dish.

For example, ASDA’s Chicken Curry and Rice for £1 contains 44% rice and only 12% chicken. That leaves 44% of the product, which is accounted for with cream, butter, oils and seasoning.

However, when you’re paying £1 for curry, you can’t expect that much chicken right? This also contains 31% of your total fat intake and 50% of saturate intake.

Whilst I do appreciate that this is a value ready meal and is priced as such. It does show that just because something on the surface seems decent, it is worth looking further into it.

Cooking a curry yourself doesn’t have to be complicated, it’s a simple combination of spices, bit of chicken and some rice. All of which can be done for £1 or less. Even if you opt for a ready made sauce these are usually low in price and can result in you getting more curry for your money.

It’s not just the value meals of course.

Going a bit higher in price, let’s look at Tesco Finest Cottage Pie for £3.70. 47% mash potato (good start), 32% British beef (even better) leaving 21% left for vegetables and seasoning.

Now traditionally a cottage pie isn’t unhealthy, it’s potato, beef, gravy and vegetables. Yet this ready meal option is 37% of your saturates and 32% of your salt.

Considering you need to have 2 other meals and probably snacks, eating a large portion of your saturates and salt in one sitting is not ideal.

While I can understand how these ready meals are convenient and seemingly money saving. The calorific content and health values do outweigh this element of ease.

Would you rather save yourself 10 minutes, pay more and ingest something unhealthy, or, spend an extra 10 minutes on your dinner, save money and eat healthily?

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