Action 272: Reduce the number of convenience meals you eat

chicken-tikka-masalaDate: 29 September
Action: 272
Cost of taking action: £/$/€ SAVES MONEY


So called ‘TV dinners’ are easy and convenient, it’s true … but they come at a high environmental price!

Today’s action is to try and reduce the number of convenience meals you buy.

These pre-prepared, packaged, chilled or frozen meals are readily available in our supermarkets, and they do make life easier sometimes when we are busy. However, their consumption has gone far beyond being an occasional convenience or treat, they are eaten routinely by many of us – especially in the west –  and this has created a number of environmental problems.

What are the problems?

There are several problems associated with the convenience meal culture:

  • packaging

Generally, plastic is used to package these products. The trays in which the meals are cooked or heated, and served, are usually plastic (or sometimes aluminium foil). The trays are topped with additional plastic, usually a different type and often not recyclable. The trays are often made of black plastic, which is non-recyclable.

Admittedly the re-cyclability of the packaging used for these items has improved in recent years (a UK perpective) however they still represent a very poor use of plastic.

Even the recyclable packaging, such as some plastics, cardboard, and aluminium is disproportionate when you consider that all is being delivered is one meal for one person.

Other issues include:

  • nutrition and health
  • refrigeration and transport
  • food waste

Various reports and papers conclude that home preparing food is better in all of these respects, for example there is a comprehensive analysis published at and many more from respected scientists can be found through simple internet searches.

Other advantages

Other advantages of reducing our reliance on pre-prepared food are:

  • cost savings can be made by home preparing food
  • developing food preparation and cooking skills
  • controlling the amount of sugars, salts and fats we consume
  • home prepared food invariably tastes better!
  • no concerns about the presence of allergens
  • structured mealtimes – preparation and eating – can significantly improve social and family interactions

What to do

Take action – think about the number of pre-prepared convenience meals you eat, and resolve to reduce it.

We all can appreciate the value of convenience meals at times – when we are busy or working late, when time is short, or where food is needed quickly and unexpectedly, but we need to step back from our routine reliance on them.