Have you ever stopped to think about how much you pay for whole food compared to packaged food? We regularly hear people state that it is cheaper to buy processed food and it is expensive to eat well. Like many issues with Health and Nutrition, it gets down to education, or lack of it. All processed food sold in supermarkets in Australia must have a pricing label on the shelf, that lists the product name and the cost per 100 grams. For example, Coles tinned, diced Australian tomatoes, $0.34 per 100g. This is very helpful when deciding how much you are paying for food and trying to get the best value for your hard-earned money.
Let’s look at some common food items that people buy:
Frozen crumbed chicken is a good example. The cost per kilo for Steggles crumbed breast tenders is $22.88 per kilo. Now on the packet, they state that it is 100% chicken breast, however if you look closely at the ingredients list, you will see that whilst they may use 100% breast, that only 40% of the product is actual chicken. This means that 60% of what you are paying for is everything else but chicken! Quite often with processed nuggets and crumbed chicken, they use water and potato starch to act as fillers. When you mix water and flour, you get a sticky, glue like substance which is not very appetising. So, then they need to add other (often artificial) products in for flavour, colour and texture. So, you are paying $22.88 per kilo for 40% chicken breast and 60% fillers. Lilydale free range chicken breast (100%) is only $14.00 per kilo at Coles so it is easy to see the difference in value for money.
Popcorn is another great example and a food that many parents buy their kids as a snack. Popping corn that you pop yourself in a little oil is a healthy snack food. The pre-packaged products available in the supermarket are often full of salt, fat, sugar and many artificial colours and flavours. Coles microwave butter popcorn, is $0.95 per 100 g or $9.50 per kilo. Cobs pre-popped pack of 10 is $3.81 per 100g or $38.10 per kilo and Kettle sea salt popcorn is $4.41 per 100g or $44.10 per kilo. When you compare those prices with a bag of popping corn you can pop yourself for $0.49 per 100g or $4.90 per kilo you soon realise how much you are paying for processing, packaging, transport and marketing. Then stop and think about the health implications of the processed food and hopefully it encourages you to make smarter, healthier and more cost-effective choices.
These were just two food examples; however, I encourage you to check out some of your favourite food products when you are next in the supermarket and compare it to the cost to food you can prepare yourself. If you get stuck on inspiration for recipe ideas, check out the recipes page on our web site. We add a new recipe in every fortnight to keep you inspired, healthy and happy, as well as hopefully leaving a few extra dollars in your pocket. Happy cooking.
(Prices accurate as at 31/8/17 and sourced from Coles and Woolworths online)