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Take away food
The perils of ready meals


 
           
     
 


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Ready meals are expensive, bad for you, and bad for the environment

Ready meals are easy to prepare and there is a huge variety to chose from. And these days, they taste a lot better than they used to. But they are by far the least economical way of buying food. They are full of artificial preservatives, fat, sugar and salt and the plastic packaging is a nightmare for the environment

Facts

A spaghetti carbonara ready meal can be bought for approximately £2 at any large supermarket, sometimes cheaper. But if you do some simple calculations, you will soon see why it is not good economy to buy this type of food. For example, a 2kg bag of pasta for £1.00, a pack of bacon for about £2.00, half a dozen eggs for 75p, a tub of cream for 80p and a chunk of cheddar for £1.50. Using these basic ingredients you can make yourself about 20 spaghetti carbonaras!

The true facts about takeaway meals

If ready meals aren't bad enough, takeaway meals are even worse. Before we go any further, here are the recommended food intakes:

Men / Women Recommended Daily Allowance

Total calories: 2,500 kcal / 2,000 kcal
Sugar: 120g / 90g
Total fat: 95g / 70g
Saturated fat: 30g / 20g
Salt: 6g / 6g

Research

Which? magazine tested the calorie, sugar, saturated fat and salt content found in three types of takeaway food much loved by students: Chinese, Indian and pizza takeaways .

Each type of takeaway was rated against the recommended daily allowance.

The average calorie content of a takeaway is high - 1,338 calories for Indian and 1,436 calories for the same-sized Chinese takeaway. Indian meals (usually containing a lot of butter) contain 23.6g of saturated fat. The daily recommended intake is 20g for women and 30g for men. Pizzas are the more healthy option as half a medium pizza contains between 836 and 929 calories. However, Pizzas also have a very high fat content.

Fat content

Which? found that that an average Indian takeaway contained 23.2g of saturated fat. For women, this is 3.2g more they should eat in a day.

Sugar content

Chinese takeaways tended to be lower in their saturated fat content than Indian meals, but, contained nearly three times as much sugar. In one test, one portion of a Chinese meal contained more than 19 teaspoons of sugar.

Beware of naan bread

Tasty naan breads are another favourite. But you might not be so keen when you read this - a naan bread contains more calories than a chicken tikka masala!

Calorie counting

Takeaways meal providers are not legally required to give nutritional content of their takeaway food, making it difficult for people to know about calorie count or salt content. However, some companies provide details of nutritional content on their websites. You may think that if you check the website of a Pizza chain, you can check the calorie count and only eat a piece containing an acceptable number of calories. But beware - what you read on the website is not always true. Which? reported that the fat content in pizzas from companies such as Pizza Hut and Domino's, differed from amount specified on their websites. For example, cheese and tomato pizzas from Domino's contained at least 50 per cent more fat per 100g than stated on their website.

Other takeaway foods

Here are the calorie counts of some food that students like to eat:

McChicken Sandwich, McDonald's - 1 Sandwich/167g - 376 calories

Cheeseburger, McDonald's - 1 Burger/122g - 300 calories

Hamburger, McDonald's - 1 Burger/108g - 254 calories

Fries, McDonald's - 1 Reg Portion/78g - 224 calories

Chicken Sandwich, Burger King - 1 Sandwich/224g - 659 calories

Extra Crispy Chicken Drumstick, KFC - 1 Drumstick/67g - 195 calories

Hash Brown McDonald's - 1 Portion/56g - 127 calories

Quarter Pounder With Cheese, McDonald's - 1 Burger/206g - 515 calories

Big Mac, McDonald's - 1 Big Mac/215g - 492 calories

Sensible eating

Of course, there is always a place for takeaway meals and ready meals. They can be tasty and a fun, sociable activity. But in the interests of your student budget, your waistline and your general health, you should limit your intake.

Learn to cook

Your time at university is an ideal time to learn how to cook. You won't have nagging parents telling to you clear up immediately, and you can experiment with your favourite foods. If you cook a delicious meal for yourself and your friends, you will get a great deal of satisfaction as the compliments come rolling in.

Learn to shop

However, learning to cook is only half the story. You also need to learn how to shop efficiently, choosing good quality, nutritious foods on a limited budget. It is possible - but it does need planning and practice.

 

 

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