What Consumer can reveal the results of its unique and comprehensive study, comparing the cost of typical pre-packaged or ready meals with the costs associated with making the same dish from scratch. The study looked at 50 family favourites and although most worked out cheaper from scratch, found numerous items for which the difference was negligible, or were actually cheaper in ready-made form. Among them were things like chicken nuggets, fishcakes and meatballs. This raises another question then, of what actually goes into these products to enable them to be priced so competitively. With this in mind, the study looked at the costs associated with making higher quality traditional favourites – such as 80% pork sausage rolls, or 100% chicken nuggets, or 100% beef burgers.

The following should be noted:

  • Not everything has been made from scratch. You will see the inclusion of pastry blocks and jars of pre-prepared sauces, but only where the time saving significantly outweighs the cost saving. Some concessions have been made for the sake of convenience!
  • The ingredients listed are standard branded items or supermarket own brands. Cheaper alternatives are available and savings can be made by sourcing fruit, vegetables, meat and fish elsewhere, such as local markets.
  • Only quality cuts of meat or fish have been included in each recipe. Frozen fish has been used for the fish pies and fish cakes to keep price down, although this will not affect the quality or flavour.
  • All eggs included have been priced as free range.
  • The chicken fillets are supermarket standard and are neither organic nor free range.
  • The majority of herbs are fresh. Savings can be made by using dried herbs.
  • In most cases, luxury or premium brands have been used so that so that a like for like comparison can be made. Standard or economy foods will often incorporate lower quality ingredients, artificial substitutes and bulking agents such as starch, water, pork fat etc to increase size and weight.

The results


  • Bread
    Saving 43p (43%) per loaf
  • Pastry
    Saving 12p (12%) per 500g

Family Meals:

Soups, Sauces and Sides:

Puds and Cakes:

Kids and party food: