Cooking at Home vs. Pre Packaged Meals

Posted on Friday, November 23, 2018
Written by Live Life Get Active
Category: Nutrition

Healthy eating is achieved best when meals are prepared at home from simple, fresh ingredients. Pre-packaged meals can be deceiving with ‘low fat’ claims. Most of the time they contain extra salt, sugar, preservatives and additives. They also usually contain loads of ingredients that are artificial or contain no nutritional value.

This week we have dissected a frozen pre-packed pasta recipe and compared it to our own homemade pasta recipe to demonstrate to you just how much healthier it is to cook from scratch.

The Ingredients List – What to look out for

how to tell if ingredients are healthy

  1. Length of list

The store-bought recipe’s list is miles longer, which is your first alarm bell. The longer the list generally means the more added artificial ingredients and preservatives!

  1. The Actual Ingredients – fresh or phony?

The ingredients in our recipe are real, fresh and are all full of fibre, vitamins and healthy fats! Most of the ingredients in the store-bought recipe do not provide any nutritional value nor are they fresh! Note the store-bought recipe completely lacks vegies!

  1. Additives and preservatives

There are lots of numbers, colours and flavours in the store-bought recipe. Although it is safe to consume preservatives in small amounts, it much better to use real, fresh food for optimal nutrition. Look at our ingredients list – you don’t need a science lab to create any of these!

The Nutritional information

nutritional value of pasta

Now let’s have a look at the nutrition information. Remember it’s quality and quantity we look at here. The main things to point out are:

  1. Energy

There is almost double the amount of Kj in store-bought pasta. Some pre-packaged foods have an equivalent amount of energy to homemade, but they are usually full of foods that have minimal nutritional benefits.

  1. Protein

Due to the salmon and our choice of high protein pasta, our recipe is full of high-quality protein.

  1. Fat

The main thing to take note of is the quality of fat. Our fat sources are from extra virgin olive oil and salmon – these are extremely beneficial to your health with a bunch of evidence out there for their disease-fighting properties!

  1. Carbohydrates

Compared to the carbs in the store-bought recipe, which are mainly from white flour pasta with minimal fibre or nutritional value, the carbs in our recipe are all from high fibre vegetables and pasta with high nutritional value.

  1. Sodium

There is 5 times the amount of sodium in the store-bought recipe compared to ours! This is one of the biggest issues with pre-packaged foods which is contributing to high blood pressure and health issues.

  1. Fibre

Our recipe is full of high fibre pasta and lots of fresh vegetables giving it 4 times as much fibre compared to the store-bought recipe!

Check out this week’s simple and fresh recipe using pulse pasta, which is a pasta made from lentils, chickpeas and beans that is high in fibre and protein!

Recipe: Spring Vege Pasta

Serves: 4 Time: 20mins Cost: $16 ($4/serve)

  • 250g packet pulse pasta
  • 200g canned salmon (optional)
  • 1 can tomatoes
  • 2 bunches asparagus
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 2 cups fresh rocket leaves
  • 40g parmesan, finely grated
  • 2 T olive oil
  • salt and pepper to season


  1. Boil 3L water and cook pasta for 10mins.
  2. Meanwhile, heat pan with ½ Tbsp olive oil.
  3. Chop asparagus and stir-fry for 5mins
  4. Add peas and tomatoes cook for 5 mins
  5. Drain pasta
  6. Add pasta and salmon to pan
  7. Season with salt & pepper, mix
  8. Turn off heat
  9. Stir through rocket
  10. Serve with parmesan


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