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Having processed food for dinner? The ingredients could be into the hundreds!

The Healthy EmployeeBlood pressure & heart disease Having processed food for dinner? The ingredients could be into the hundreds!

Having processed food for dinner? The ingredients could be into the hundreds!

So you don’t have the inclination or time to cook your evening meal from scratch tonight. Instead you head to the supermarket and pick up sausages, readymade mashed potato, gravy granules and a loaf of gluten-free bread in preparation for your quick sausage and mash meal.

This meal has recently been looked at by researchers who analysed the quantity of ingredients contained within the average own-brand sausages, ready made mashed potato, gravy granules, gluten free bread, tomato ketchup and vegetable oil spread.

The shocking total was a staggering 109! With additives and preservatives such as ‘Hydroxypropyl Methyl Cellulose’ and ‘Sodium Metabisulphite’ included (yes, we have no idea either but it doesn’t sound edible!) Although it is common understanding that processed foods include a greater number of ingredients and additives than food made from scratch, these findings surprised even the most experienced Nutritionists.

This is the trouble with falling back on processed foods. Sausage and mash seems like a straightforward and uncomplicated meal that can only be altered and modified to a certain degree – but without having any input into the making of the meal, it is proven that we are likely to greatly underestimate the large list of components within our meal.


Ingredient quantity breakdown:

  • Average own-brand sausages = 30 ingredients
  • Average own-brand mashed potato = 7 ingredients
  • Average own-brand gravy granules = 16 ingredients
  • Average own-brand tomato ketchup = 12 ingredients
  • Gluten-free bread = 26 ingredients
  • Vegetable oil spread = 18 ingredients
  • TOTAL = 109 ingredients


Although we appreciate that ready-made food can appear to be more convenient when time is limited, it is best to avoid them whenever possible due to the amount of added nasties contained within them. Real food is more cost effective and needn’t be a heavier burden than heating up processed food.

Set aside time in the week to make extra meals so that you always have something to fall back on if you are caught short. This needn’t mean that you are slaving away in the kitchen for hours; it could simply mean that you cook enough for an extra serving each time you cook your evening meal, and pop it in the freezer for a later date. Or you could make a large batch of bolognaise or stew that can be bulked out with veggies and frozen for whenever suits. This way you know exactly what is in what you’re eating as you have created it using fresh and natural food containing minimal ingredients.

For a large reel of recipes suitable for a range of time scales and taste buds, head over to our recipe library to get inspired! Click here.


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Are you thinking about adding something to your health and wellbeing programme? Contact us here for more information on our Employee Nutrition Services.

The Healthy Employee
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