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Ding! The Saltiest Supermarket Own Brand Ready Meals

Written by Rebecca Moss

Whether you opt for premium or basic ready meals you might be surprised to see just how much salt supermarkets are packing into these easy eats.

Let’s face it, who doesn’t walk through the door after a long day and pop a pre-packaged ready meal into the microwave every once in a while? Well, it turns out more than 3 million of us are doing exactly that every day, according to the National Food Survey by Kantar Worldpanel. 

Taking the UK’s 10 best-selling ready meals, we investigated the nutritional differences between the premium and basic versions available in Asda, Tesco, Morrisons and Sainsburys.

The UK’s Favourite Ready Meals

The following 10 dishes were either best-selling or customer favourites within the ready meal categories for all four supermarkets.

  • Shepherds Pie
  • Sausage and Mash
  • Spaghetti Bolognese
  • Fish Pie
  • Paella
  • Macaroni Cheese
  • Lasagne
  • Hot Pot (lamb)
  • Chicken Korma
  • Carbonara

Saltiest Supermarket – Premium vs Basic

Tesco topped the list as their ready meals contained the most salt overall (42.1g), but did we find a difference in salt content between the premium and basic versions of the same dish?

On average, there was 8% less salt in the basic branded ready meals, when compared with the premium dishes. 

Asda had the largest percentage difference between their basic branded ready meals and the premium ‘Extra Special’ range – the luxe range had at least 10% more salt than their basic range equivalents. 

Saltiest Ready Meal per Supermarket

Six of the 10 saltiest meals are from Tesco whilst none of the Asda ready meals in the study appeared at the top of the list for salt.

If you’re planning on tucking into Sausage and Mash, you should put the salt shaker away; Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Sausage and Mash contains almost 3g of salt. That’s around half of the NHS recommended daily allowance (RDA) of 6g.   

Least Salty Ready Meal per Supermarket

Surprisingly, Spaghetti Bolognese came out as the ready meal containing the least salt, with the Tescho Finest version containing just 1.2g. All four supermarkets had Spaghetti Bolognese in this list!

10 Saltiest Ready Meals

Premium vs Basic Ready Meals

Sausage and Mash is at the top of the list for both the basic and premium ranges in all four supermarkets. Premium Fish Pie and Shepherds Pie are the next saltiest dishes, followed by basic Carbonara and Lamb Hot Pot

And the award for the worst ready meal overall goes to…

Tesco Finest Sausage and Mash, which contained the most calories (838) and fat (57.3g). According to the NHS guidelines, this ready meal would account for 41.90% of the average adult woman’s daily calorie quota and 33.5% for adult men. 


Data correct as of 29th December 2019. Nutritional information for the premium and basic ready meal ranges sourced from supermarket websites. 

UK’s 10 most popular ready meals were discovered by collecting the best selling or customer favourite ready meals appearing on the ready meal category eg: Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Asda.

Full study available in a Google Sheet. 


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Post published on Monday January 6, 2020