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 374.

    I wish I were a perfect domestic goddess and could rustle up a healthy filling meal every for 5p.

  • rate this

    Comment number 373.

    I am coeliac, I cannot eat food containing wheat or gluten. Most gluten free food is well overpriced (£2.50 for a 400g loaf of bread).I've found gluten free products are quite high in fat. This makes it hard to find food to take as pack up for work which is healthy and filling. I find for evenings cooking from scratch is hard to, as I don't normally get home until gone 8pm.

  • rate this

    Comment number 372.

    Shame we don't have one of those three supermarkets nearby, why not all supermarket chains?
    Although if you actually look in Tescos & Morrisons & i suspect the other chains also, they actually sell cheaper ranges of fruit & veg & if you go in towards the end of the day you can pick up the reduced fruit & veg.

  • rate this

    Comment number 371.

    I was taught to cook at school and home. So by the time I was working long hours, on little money, I was knew how to shop cheaply, cook and freeze meals, as well as cook quick and easy meals. More importantly had a taste for good food. Junk pre-packaged food, I tried, just didn't not taste as good - even burger and chips. You tend to want to eat as an adult, what you liked as a child.

  • rate this

    Comment number 370.

    358. SoA. Another cry for yet more money. If the tax payer is expected to spend cover food, as well as children, power, water, AND rent we may as well pack up and just go back to the State controlling everything. No enterprise, self responsibility but at least people will be protected from theselves eh? Maybe this post won't get spuriously removed for not towing the (Labour) party line.

  • rate this

    Comment number 369.

    The problem of healthy eatng is partly due to supermarkets and food manufacturers taking advantage of the lifestyle the western world has evolved into. We all work endless hours just to make ends meet and when we get home from our jobs we sit at home watching tv cookery programs and eating microwave ready meals . I work full time and won't have ready meals in the house.only fresh meat and veg.

  • rate this

    Comment number 368.

    Even less well of in UK throw excessive amounts of food away.
    Yearly UK food waste is around 6,700,000 tonnes.

    Poor planning & portion control are endemic & also over eating on sweets/crisps & other crap before meals ensures so much is wasted.
    Also views such as 365.Celeriac are themselves a waste of space, a few added spices change basic ingredients into costly meals sold in restaurants

  • rate this

    Comment number 367.

    I agree 100% with 236 Jon. The NHS is a catch all for every condition we impose upon ourselves. If we had to pay per visit, for every procedure, every consultation we would do anything to avoid the expense. The NHS is necessary but it exists to deal with mostly preventable illness. A diet of high GL carbs, animal fat, omega 6 veg fats and no exercise = most of the NHS patients illnesses. Fact.

  • rate this

    Comment number 366.

    Meanwhile, telly continues to serve up the usual diet of over-the-top cookery programmes designed to make you fat & lazy. If obesity is such a serious issues, why aren't there TV series dedicated to Mr Harriott's recipes & healthy cooking in general?

    Like so much else in this miserable little country, politicians play at 'being effective' (recipe leaflets FGS!), rather than being results-driven.

  • rate this

    Comment number 365.

    Minced Beef £2
    Onions 30p
    Tomatoes 35p
    Spaghetti 50p

    Current prices at Aldi/Lidl

    Total cost £3.15


    I'm sorry but that is not a healthy or complete meal! It's also an inedible one.

    It's so insulting to be told cheap pigswill should be good enough for all of us, it's not. Where I live, decent food costs way more than this.

  • rate this

    Comment number 364.

    @baby_lawyer. You are clearly not getting it, there is no mention here of how many meals the £5 is for. I have provided my assumptions as a reasult - something else a graduate does. But my real concern is that you do not understand the difference between an attitude and a summary of the facts as they have been presented. I'm off to walk my dog - enjoy your research!

  • rate this

    Comment number 363.

    Co-Op seems to be the last food shop left in the parades of take-away, hairdressers and tatooists.

    ALDI already does at least 4 fruit/veg offers per week.

  • rate this

    Comment number 362.

    A woman on tv other week complaining to Edwina Curry that she was poor , she relied on free weekly food parcels from charity.
    This woman had 2 BIG dogs, huge electricy muching tv, larger than common sense + various games consuls & dishwasher, & could afford to run all, long term unemployed.

    The mentaility of this woman was UGLY, her perception of poor was UGLY, obviously she ate ugly food!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 361.

    358.Sons Of Albion

    It's all very well to say we need to ensure that people have access to funds in order to buy healthy foodstuffs, but how do you ensure that the money is spent responsibly? It would have to be a voucher scheme or something, otherwise these extra funds would often just go on booze and fags and yet more junk food.

  • 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 359.

    Maybe taxing fast foods might be the solution. Just go to any mcdonalds/KFC and look at who frequents them most.

    No stereotypes needed.

    If you want people to be healthier, site car parks away from the shops.

  • 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 357.

    @352 Romford_Manda Yes and if you actually look at this scheme then the £5 for a meal is for a main meal for a family of 4. Apparently unlike you I actually research these issues before commenting...something graduates are expected to do. The attitude of 'It's too expensive to eat healthy'...no it really isn't. Those on benefits with a family of four are paid more than £67.50 per week.

  • rate this

    Comment number 356.

    344. No it isn't, clearly I don't mean everyone. There is a huge percentage of these useless mums, many let down by their own parents. Go and stand outside Greggs and watch them feeding their kids, McDonalds is a regular visit, not a treat. We have a massive proportion of useless mums and benefit dads who don't know responsibility about fathering or providing. They are who I am talking about.

  • 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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