The meal deal section – the most affordable place to pick up a filling lunch in a rush but arguably, not always the healthiest.
We all know the key to sticking to our diet plans is to think ahead and bring food with us but none of us are perfect and sometimes we get caught short, needing to pick up lunch on the go which is when we usually find ourselves stood in front of the meal deal section, frantically wondering what we can eat that won’t totally ruin our diets!
Well, we’ve done the hard work for you and investigated the meal deals on offer at all your major supermarkets and have worked on some winning combinations for healthy and affordable lunches!
Often crowned ‘king of the meal deal’, the £3 offer at Tesco allows you to choose a main, a side and a drink for just £3 and with sandwiches, wraps, salads, sushi and more on offer in the mains section alone, there’s plenty to choose from.
In terms of calories, our top 3 mains recommendations from Tesco are:
127g Vegetable Sushi – 171 calories
Ham, Egg and Coleslaw Salad – 220 calories
Calorie Controlled Chicken Salad Sandwich – 299 calories
Other salad options such as the prawn salad or tomato, mozzarella and pesto salad are low in calories, under 350.
As for your side or ‘snack’, staying away from the crisps, cakes and chocolate bars is obviously your healthiest option. Tesco offers small sushi packs as a side, cooked chicken fillets, 10 calorie jelly, vegetable sticks with dip or boiled eggs, all of which are healthier, more nutritious choices.
To make the best choice with your drink, opt for water or a zero calories/sugar fizzy drink such as Coke Zero.
Similarly to Tesco, Sainsbury’s do a £3 meal deal that includes a main, snack and drink and they have a similar selection of sandwiches and wraps, however a little more limited. Their ‘Be Good to Yourself’ range of sandwiches is great for those watching their weight, with options including:
Ham Salad Sandwich – 262 calories
Tuna and Cucumber Sandwich – 308 calories
Chicken Salad Sandwich – 321 calories
Sainsbury’s pasta pots are all much higher in calories, usually over 500 and a lot of their salads contain pasta too, however, they do a ‘chicken and 4 grains’ salad which is 391 calories and contains lots of great nutrients.
Opting for a fruit pot and water or zero sugar drink is the best way to complete your meal deal at Sainsbury’s.
One of the most convenient food stores to visit here in the UK with one in near enough every town and village, you’re never far from a Co-Op at lunchtime.
They’re known for their extensive meal deal section with sandwiches, wraps, salads, pasta and more. They have an offer similar to other supermarkets, offering a main, a snack and a drink for £3.50. The price may be slightly higher than others but the options available are generally higher in value.
The Co-Op meal deal has a range called ‘Well and Good’ which is a selection of sandwiches, salads and noodles that are lower in calories and higher in nutrients and there’s plenty of tasty options to choose from. For under 300 calories, you can enjoy the following mains:
Ham & Egg Salad – 252 calories
Prawn Salad – 246 calories
Tuna Sandwich – 267 calories
Hoisin Chicken Noodles – 264 calories
Ham Salad Sandwich – 281 calories
Co-Op also has a great range of healthy snacks including carrot or cucumber sticks with dip, lots of different fruit pots and pop chips. They also have bottles of water, Coke Zero and lots of different fruity low calorie/zero calorie drinks on the deal too.
Marks & Spencer
Arguably the pricier end of the spectrum when it comes to meal deals but Marks & Spencer do still have a great selection to offer and they do have food halls in many towns as well as in petrol stations and service stations, so they’re usually not too far away.
Only a small selection of Marks & Spencer’s sandwiches and snacks are on the meal deal and if you want to opt for the healthiest options, you may have to pay a little extra and buy out of the meal deal offer.
In their ‘food to go’ range they do have some really delicious salads, totally different to what is available at other shops. Some of their top offerings include:
Hot Smoked Salmon & Potato Salad – 275 calories
Super Wholefood Salad – 374 calories
Prawn Layered Salad – 205 calories
Plant Kitchen Edamame and Black Rice Salad – 395 calories
Chargrilled Chicken Nourish Bowl – 243 calories
Moroccan Spiced Butternut Salad – 318 calories
Marks & Spencer also have a great range of healthy snacks in their food to go range including fruit pots and protein pots with boiled eggs, spinach and beetroot.
Although more commonly known as a high street cosmetic/toiletries store, Boots are quite well known for their meal deal section and with stores in most town centres, you’re likely to never be too far from a Boots and their meal deal section is actually really good.
Boots have a low-calorie range known as ‘Shapers’ and have done for years and within their £3.39 meal deal, they have some great healthy options, including:
Moroccan Style Chicken Cous Cous Salad – 250 calories
Moroccan Style Veggie Cous Cous Salad – 161 calories
Chicken & Bacon Caesar Pasta Salad – 344 calories
Egg, Mayo & Cress Sandwich – 288 calories
Prawn Mayo Sandwich – 288 calories
Ham Salad Sandwich – 281 calories
Boots also offer fruit pots in their snack section and a selection of low-calorie drinks.
So, there’s no need to fall off your diet plan if you forget your lunch and have to buy on the go because wherever you are in the UK, you’ll never be far from one of these shops and they all have great healthier, low-calorie options for lunch and they won’t break the bank either!
Which shop is your favourite for picking up a tasty and nutritious lunch on the go?