Takeaway vs Homemade – a peek at a ‘healthy’ takeaway family meal

Written by Jordan

December 24, 2015

With Christmas now behind us and as we’re all enjoying some relaxation time, it can be tempting to take a few shortcuts and still convince ourselves that we’ve taken the ‘healthy’ option.

Here at Changing Habits, we often hear people saying that they get a healthy takeaway for their family once per week. They say they avoid Chinese, fast food burger restaurants like McDonalds or fried chicken meals like KFC and instead stick to ‘healthier’ options like subway sandwiches or salad bars.

But – it’s important to know that even the supposed ‘healthier takeaway’ options can include a wealth of dubious ingredients, so we thought we’d break down the ingredient list of a meal that is often considered a healthier substitute, so you can see for yourself what you are eating. (Note: in this example we have removed the company’s name for legal reasons).


A typical ‘healthy’ family takeaway meal

Here is what the ‘healthier’ typical family take-away meal looks like:

  •   roasted chicken
  •   hot chips
  •   peas
  •   corn
  •   gravy.

The company that makes this particular meal states on their website:
“No artificial flavours, colours or added MSG in this product or any of our prepared food.”

We will let you be the judge of this after reading the ingredients list below.

  • Chips – Potato (96%), Vegetable Oil (Canola – Antioxidants 306, 320), Dextrose
  • Chip Salt – Salt, Rice Flour, Vegetable Powders, Hydrolysed Vegetable Protein (Maize), Vegetable Oil (Canola – Antioxidants 306, 320), Yeast Extract, Anti-caking Agent (551), Food Acid (330), Spice (100), Spice Extract (160c)
  • Roast Chicken – Chicken (89%), Water, Salt, Mineral Salts (450, 451), Sugar, Vegetable Gums (415, 412), Vegetable Oil, Hydrolysed Vegetable Protein (Soy, Maize), Maltodextrin
  • Chicken Salt – Salt (Minimum 70%), Rice Flour, Vegetable Powders, Spices [Including (100)], Vegetable Oil, Anti-caking Agent (551), Hydrolysed Vegetable Protein (Maize), Sugar, Yeast Extract, Food Acid (330), Spice Extract (160c), Flavouring.
  • Stuffing – Water, Manufactured Crumbs [Wheat Flour, Salt, Mineral Salt (503)], Vegetable Oil, Salt, Dehydrated Vegetables, Sugar, Herbs, Hydrolysed Vegetable Proteins (Soy, Maize), Spices, Maltodextrin, Curry Powder
  • Gravy – Thickener (1442), Maltodextrin, Salt, Beverage Whitener [Vegetable Fat, Glucose Syrup Solids, Milk Protein, Emulsifiers (471, 472e), Mineral Salts (340, 451), Colour (101), Anticaking Agent (554)], Flavourings (Wheat, Barley, Egg), Sugar, Vegetable Powders, Yeast Extract, Anti-caking Agent (551), Animal Fats, Malt Extract (Barley), Colour (150a), Spice, Hydrolysed Vegetable Protein (Soy), Herb
  • Peas – Peas, Refined Sugar, Salt, Bicarbonate Soda
  • Corn – Sweet Corn Cob

The above list of foods contains a whopping 90 ingredients!  

What do you think of the quote mentioned above after reading that ingredients list? Can you spot any of the flavours, colours or MSG that is supposedly not added in? The only food that has nothing added to it, and is still in its natural form, is the corn. Yet when we begin to ask more questions such as: Is it genetically modified? Is the corn local, Australian and spray free? Is the chicken free of hormones and antibiotics, and is it free-range or caged? Have the foods been washed in chlorine? You can begin to understand why Cyndi is such a huge advocate of being a JERFer (Just Eat Real Food). 

A real food alternative

You can re-create this meal using REAL foods; it’s not hard or expensive. Just because the ingredients change, doesn’t mean the menu has to.

This is our re-creation of the ‘healthy takeaway’ meal.

Potato Chips (3 ingredients): Cut potatoes into chip shapes and roast in Changing Habits Coconut Oil, butter, ghee or any animal fat (tallow, lard, duck, goose or pork fat) and sprinkle with Changing Habits Seaweed Salt.

Roasted Chicken + Stuffing (16 ingredients): Our Changing Habits Roasted Savoury Spiced Chicken ingredients include an organic free range chicken, ghee or coconut oil, onion, garlic, walnuts, mushrooms, lemon juice, rapadura sugar, tamari, apple cider vinegar, cumin, paprika, thyme, cinnamon, seaweed salt and black pepper.
Gravy (3 ingredients): Real gravy requires only three ingredients – the juices and fat left over from roasting the chicken and potatoes, a thickener (such as pureed cauliflower, arrowroot flour, slippery elm or a little Emmer Wheat Flour) and herbs, spices, salt or pepper to taste. To make the gravy, gather all of the juices and fat in a small saucepan, add the thickener if required and stir over a low heat. Add herbs, spices, salt and pepper to taste.

Peas (1 ingredient): Fresh or frozen peas. Organic (even frozen) is best.

Corn (1 ingredient): Fresh or frozen corn (non GM). You can buy corn locally when in season from your farmers markets.

This healthy alternative uses less than 25 REAL food ingredients. So what would you prefer – a meal made with more than 90 ingredients that may not be the best for your body or health, or a meal made with love using less than 25 real food ingredients that will not only taste better, but nourish your family too?

From all of us at Changing Habits, I hope you have a happy and healthy festive season.

Happy Changing Habits,

Changing Habits Accredited Nutritionist

January 2016

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  1. Helen kilmartin


    I loved using your recipes that you normally have on your website but I have searched and searched but am unable to find them now, can you let me know how to find them again or have they just been removed


    Helen Kilmartin

    • Kayla

      Hi Helen,

      which recipes are you looking for in particular?


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