IS there any food problem which can't be solved by a high street meal deal? Short answer: no.
But while most of us will simply pop into the nearest chain to buy a sandwich, snack and drink without much thought, a medical officer has now revealed the high street's top meal deals based on calories and price.
Coconut water brand Vita Coco has partnered up with Dr Tom Micklewright of Push Doctor to help shoppers get more for their buck AND educate them on the healthiest options.
The expert analysed just one of the meal deals available in the six high street stores M&S, Sainsbury's, Tesco, Co-Op, Morrisions and Boots.
The game-changing results found that Boots was the best value for money (when the three items were purchased together instead of separately) while Tesco had the least amount of calories.
Sainsbury's Meal Deal
- Ham Sandwich – 272 calories, 2.3g fat, 5.1g sugar
- Snack a Jacks Salt & Vinegar flavour – 93 calories, 0.4g fat, 1.7g sugar
- Ribena Light Pineapple and Passionfruit – 20 calories, 2.5g fat
Total calories: 385
Money saved: 15p
Dr Tom Micklewright said: "It’s good to see low sugar options here, such as Ribena Light, given that customers are often surprised to learn how much sugar and calories are contained in some drinks. Sainsbury's have also offered a no mayo sandwich which will reduce the overall fat in the meal.
"Snack a Jacks, although low in calories, are rice-based which means they'll provide a quick energy boost but where possible slower burning, complex carbohydrates are preferable, such as a handful of unsalted nuts, fruit and grain bars or a pot of Greek yogurt."
The expert explained: “This Tesco meal begins healthily, with a tuna and potato salad offering a combination of greens, protein and carbohydrates.
"Although the chicken bites might seem like a healthy alternative to other lunch snacks, the chicken has been cooked in a soybean oil and eating foods that have been fried with vegetable oils can expose us to significant amounts of cholesterol-raising fat, including trans-fats.
“With low calories, no added sugar and plenty of electrolytes, Vita Coco Sparkling is a healthy option to wash it all down with.”
Tesco Meal Deal
- Tuna and potato salad – 99 calories
- Fridge raiders Southern Chicken Bites – 111 calories
- Vita Coco Sparkling Pineapple & Passionfruit – 20 calories
Total calories: 230
Money saved: £2.19
“In principle, the sandwich looks healthy. Although avocados are high in fat, and therefore quite calorie-dense, these particular fats tend to be the healthier kind and can lower the amount of unhealthy fat and cholesterol in your body over time," Dr Micklewright said.
“Traditional potato crisps however, whether hand cooked or not, are high in unhealthy fats, including the dreaded trans fats mentioned above; this is why there are so many calories listed here for just a small bag of crisps.”
M&S Meal Deal
- Roasted Vegetable and Avocado Sandwich – 311 calories, 8.1g fat, 2.8g sugar
- Mature cheddar and red onion hand-cooked crisps – 206 calories, 11.g fat, 0.7g sugar
- Strawberry still water – 10 calories, 0.5g fat, 0.5g sugar
Total calories: 525
Money savings: 40p
Dr Tom Micklewright said: “Sushi is a great way to include more fish (with their healthy fish oils) and vegetables into the diet, so long as you go easy on the soy sauce.
"Yoghurt can be a healthy food option as part of a balanced diet but Muller's strawberry corner contains a great deal of sugar, which means it has more calories and, if eaten regularly with other high sugar foods or drink (such as the Ribena frusion), could increase the risk of diabetes in the future.”
Co-Op Meal Deal
- Fish and vegetable sushi selection with soy sauce – 238 calories, 3.7g fat, 8.9g sugar
- Muller strawberry corner – 150 calories, 5.6g fat, 17g sugar
- Ribena Frusion blackcurrent water – 80 calories, 18.9g sugar
Total calories: 468
Money saved: £1.35
“Couscous is a healthy alternative to rice as it releases carbohydrates and sugar into our bloodstream more slowly," Dr Micklewright revealed. "This keeps us energised for longer and reduces our risk of diabetes in the future.
"The Shapers multigrain waves contain a much lower number of calories and fat than normal crisps. The Vita Coco coconut water is high in electrolytes and doesn’t contain any added sugar so is a healthier option than many of the soft drinks and juices available."
Boots Meal Deal
- Shapers Morocaan style veggie coucous salad – 161 calories. 3.3g fat, 9.3g sugar
- Shapers BBQ multigrain waves – 95 calories, 5g fat, 1.1g sugar
- Vita Coco Coconut water – 90 calories, 4g fat
Total calories: 246
Money saved: £2.60
'Where they can, people should be choosing low-sugar options, ideally from unprocessed food sources," the expert said. "Whilst certain types of fat needn't be avoided, a diet low in fat will help to keep your cholesterol level and body weight within a healthy range.
"Foods full of complex carbohydrates, rather than processed sugars are more likely to give you the energy to see you through the rest of your day."
Morrisons Meal Deal
- Sweet chilli chicken salad – 201 calories, 2.1g fat, 13.8g sugar
- Two hard-boiled eggs – 135 calories, 8.3 fat, 0.1g sugar
- Glaceau vitamin water water – 8 calories, 10.4g fat, 13.9g sugar
Money saved: £1.75
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