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    ‘Brits buying more processed food, ready meals’

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    Families are forced to eat ready meals and processed foods due to the cost-of-living crisis, a recent study has claimed, saying most shoppers feel price was the most important factor when picking a store.

    According to the BBC Good Food Nation survey 2023, more than two-thirds of people (69 per cent) said they considered themselves to be healthy eaters but 28 per cent said they were eating less nutritious food because it is too expensive,

    The study of 2013 adults across the UK found that 19 per cent are eating more ready meals and processed foods because they are cheaper, while 17 per cent are cooking less from scratch.

    The survey, which looks at shopping, cooking and eating habits, found that three in five people (60 per cent) have changed what they eat due to the rising cost of ingredients. This includes 16 per cent who said they have cut back on organic ingredients and 12 per cent who said they were eating less protein as they struggled to cope with higher food bills. The study found that 15 per cent are taking more packed lunches to work to save money.

    Meanwhile, over a quarter (28 per cent) of respondents said they had changed their supermarket due to the cost-of-living crisis and 4 per cent said they had used food banks or alternatives to shops. More than two-thirds of people (68 per cent) said price was the most important factor when picking a supermarket.

    Overall, 61 per cent said the cost of living had affected their healthy eating habits in some way, including being more conscious of eating healthily because they cannot afford to get sick (18 per cent) and eating less healthily due to stress (15 per cent). The poll found that 13 per cent said they were eating less healthily due to having less time to cook because of working longer hours.

    More than a third of respondents (36 per cent) said they were producing fewer leftovers, with their reasons being to save money (59 per cent); because they are meal planning more carefully (44 per cent); and to reduce waste to help the planet (34 per cent). The survey found that the four most common foods people threw away were salad leaves (31 per cent), bread (29 per cent), fruit (24 per cent) and vegetables (23 per cent).

    Christine Hayes, editor-in-chief of BBC Good Food, said the survey shows that “we consider ourselves a nation of healthy eaters and we care about what we eat.

    “However, rising costs have impacted choices and compromises have had to be made with people buying more processed food and ready meals and swapping supermarkets to save money.”

    Almost half of those surveyed (46 per cent) said they owned an air fryer while another 23 per cent said they were planning a purchase. Meanwhile, one in seven people (14 per cent) said they had used artificial intelligence tools to create a recipe and 12 per cent had used them to create a shopping list.

    “The BBC Good Food Nation findings show we embrace innovations in food preparation – air fryers are now part of our everyday lives,” Hayes added.

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