Families encouraged to eat healthily on the cheap

Vegetables Healthy eating can be done on a budget, the government says

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An effort to convince families in England that they can eat healthily on a budget is being launched.

Four million recipe leaflets will be mailed to families already signed up to the government's Change 4 Life public health campaign.

Three supermarket chains have also agreed to offer discounts on products such as fruit, vegetables and fish.

But Labour said ministers do not take public health seriously and the drive is an "advertisement for big business".

Meanwhile, celebrity chef Ainsley Harriott has helped devise a cookbook promoting healthy dishes, with recipes that can be created for under £5.

He has also been filmed performing cooking tutorials which will be posted on the Change 4 Life website.

Among the meals being promoted are vegetable soup, fish pie and sweet and sour chicken.

Many of the ingredients will be discounted at the three supermarket chains signed up to the campaign - Asda, Co-op and Aldi - although it is not being revealed how big the discounts will be.

Start Quote

They're calling this public health but it's just a glorified advertisement for big business.”

End Quote Diane Abbott Shadow public health minister

Public health minister Anne Milton said: "The new year is a good time to think about losing weight. The Supermeals campaign will give us all some great ideas for balanced meals on a budget."

Mr Harriott added: "Sometimes the thought of making meals from scratch can seem a bit daunting, but I have always tried to assure people that cooking at home can be really quick, easy and doesn't need to break the bank."

But Labour criticised the move.

Shadow public health minister Diane Abbott said: "They're calling this public health but it's just a glorified advertisement for big business. This is a government that doesn't take its responsibility around public health seriously.

"Some areas in inner cities are fresh food deserts so families fall into eating takeaway chicken and chips."

Health benefits

Dale Rees, a spokesman for the British Dietetic Association, said the initiative was a positive step because the recipes would help those who wanted to cook but did not know the ingredients involved, the steps needed to prepare them or how to cook adhering to a budget.

"Evidence shows that people who eat a diet low in fat, added sugars and salt are less likely to develop chronic diseases in later life. You can protect against heart disease, for example, plus you're less likely to be obese and have weight-related health problems," said the dietician.

Referring to the issues raised by Ms Abbott, he said some local shops often carried fresh fruit and vegetables but some groups - people without cars, elderly and disabled people - found it hard to access such produce in inner city "blackspots".

Such people, he said, could be eligible for deliveries of hot meals, adding: "We need to tackle those blackspots to make sure fresh food is made available for those people. But that shouldn't stop the promotion of eating healthy food on a budget."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 519.

    it's nothing to do with cooking on the cheap. it's really to do with being able to cook.it's the best thing you can do for your family to be able to cook.man or woman the basic is how to give your family the best which will give them a great start to the day,a really good lunchtime meal and then a truly yummy evening meal.
    it was domestic science when i was at school and it worked.

  • rate this

    Comment number 410.

    The problem here is that realistically many families have a lot less than five pounds per meal to live off. They need to go back to the drawing board and devise meals that cost between one and three pounds for people on low incomes to take notice - this just shows how out of touch government has become with the people it is supposed to serve and advise!

  • rate this

    Comment number 360.

    Why is it assumed that when you are on a low income you survive on takeaways and ready meals? I ate far more takeaways and ready meals BEFORE I was made redundant as I could afford them!

    I now cook from scratch and find it much cheaper, oh and I have lost about a stone and a half too! I also grow some of my veg in large pots in my back yard - fresher and healthier and keeps costs down.

  • rate this

    Comment number 358.

    Yes but a £5 recipe is no good is it? Benefit rates do not leave a person £5 a day to spend on food. We need to ensure that people have access to funds in order to buy healthy foodstuffs. Not a word on that here.

  • rate this

    Comment number 355.

    Whilst it is relatively simple to create home cooked meals, as a single parent with 1 child I find that most recipes make enough for 4 or even 6! Answer - buy cheap foil or plastic containers and freeze the excess, then you've always got some thing on stand by in case you don't have the time to cook from scratch.


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