HOME MADE VS STORE-BOUGHT PICNICS

Tis the season! No, not Santa Claus, it’s picnic season!

Summer is rolling in with a wave of delightful weather allowing us to make the most of our added free time this year.

Who doesn’t have fond memories of the cooler box or woven wicker basket case packed full of delicious, refreshing goodies that beautifully compliment the day and really cement the entire experience?

One of the best parts of the picnic was that they were as nutritious as they were delicious; love and care went into the preparation of sliced fruits, homemade sandwiches and salads as well as a whole host of other mouth-watering morsels.

Modern day consumerism has, for better or for worse, pushed supermarket chains to produce their own lines of picnic goodies. Not only taking some of the heart from the experience but also subjecting us to a nutritionally inadequate and overly processed alternative.

In this article we’re going to contrast and compare the products from our homemade line of picnic perfect goods to those that are widely available in supermarket chains. We want to show that homemade is not only more delicious, but also infinitely more nutritious and goes a long way to compliment the experience of the day itself as well as look to improve and protect your health! 

Comparing store-bought to homemade; the analytic side of nutrient comparison

The tastiness of a product and how it makes you “feel”/ enhances an experience are obviously quite difficult to measure and would be a more qualitative way of comparing store-bought goods to homemade products.

Whilst we are confident that the homemade options would win out in the qualitative comparisons, we wanted to provide a quantitative comparison too, to show that they are top trumps when the argument shifts to quality and nutrient density as well.

We’ve selected a range of our most popular picnic products and compared them to their store-bought counterparts;

STORE-BOUGHT vs HOMEMADE ITEMS NUTRITION COMPARISON

Spicy Scotch Egg Comparison

 This graph shows the energy difference between a homemade scotch egg and a store-bought egg.

This graph shows the energy difference between a homemade scotch egg and a store-bought egg. The store-bought is slightly lower, but also smaller in size, so relatively speaking the homemade is superior.

This graph shows a significant difference in the levels of salt between the store-bought and homemade scotch egg, with the store-bought having by far the greater amount.

This graph shows a significant difference in the levels of salt between the store-bought and homemade scotch egg, with the store-bought having by far the greater amount.

This graph shows the macronutrient comparison between the two eggs; as you can see the store-bought egg has a much higher fat and carbohydrate content with fairly similar protein content to the homemade egg.

This graph shows the macronutrient comparison between the two eggs; as you can see the store-bought egg has a much higher fat and carbohydrate content with fairly similar protein content to the homemade egg.

This graph shows the fat profile comparison between the two eggs; as you can see the store-bought egg has a much higher fat content overall to the homemade egg.

Sausage Rolls Comparison

This graph shows the energy difference between a homemade sausage roll and a store-bought sausage roll. The store-bought is significantly higher in calories compared to the homemade alternative.

This graph shows the energy difference between a homemade sausage roll and a store-bought sausage roll. The store-bought is significantly higher in calories compared to the homemade alternative.

This graph shows the significantly greater salt content of the store-bought sausage roll over the homemade alternative.

This graph shows the significantly greater salt content of the store-bought sausage roll over the homemade alternative.

This graph shows the macronutrient differences between the two sausage rolls; as you can see the store-bought roll has a much higher carbohydrate content, as well as a higher fat content, when compared with the homemade roll.

This graph shows the macronutrient differences between the two sausage rolls; as you can see the store-bought roll has a much higher carbohydrate content, as well as a higher fat content, than the homemade roll.

Fat profile

This graph shows the fat profile comparison between the two rolls; as you can see the store-bought roll has a higher fat content overall to the homemade roll and also has a significantly greater amount of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Potato Salad Comparison

This graph shows that the store-bought potato salad is significantly higher in calories comparative to the homemade salad. 

This graph shows that the store-bought potato salad is significantly higher in calories comparative to the homemade salad.

This graph shows an overwhelmingly, significantly greater salt content of the store-bought salad over the homemade alternative.

This graph shows an overwhelmingly, significantly greater salt content of the store-bought salad over the homemade alternative.

This graph shows the macronutrient differences between the two salads; as you can see the homemade salad has a much higher content of fibre and protein, as well as a significantly lower fat content.

This graph shows the macronutrient differences between the two salads; as you can see the homemade salad has a much higher content of fibre and protein, as well as a significantly lower fat content.

This graph shows the fat differences between the two salads; as you can see the homemade salad has an overall significantly lower fat content compared to the store-bought.

This graph shows the fat differences between the two salads; as you can see the homemade salad has an overall significantly lower fat content compared to the store-bought.

Coleslaw Comparison

This graph shows that the store-bought coleslaw is significantly higher in calories comparative to the homemade coleslaw.

This graph shows that the store-bought coleslaw is significantly higher in calories comparative to the homemade coleslaw.

This graph shows the significantly greater salt content (virtually 3x as much) of the store-bought coleslaw over the homemade alternative.

This graph shows the significantly greater salt content (virtually 3x as much) of the store-bought coleslaw over the homemade alternative.

This graph shows the macronutrient differences between the two slaws; as you can see the homemade slaw has a much higher fibre content as well as a significantly lower fat content.

This graph shows the macronutrient differences between the two slaws; as you can see the homemade slaw has a much higher fibre content as well as a significantly lower fat content.

This graph shows the fat differences between the two slaws; as you can see the homemade salad has an overall significantly lower fat content compared to the store-bought as well as a lower saturated fat amount

Sweet Treats Comparison

This graph shows the energy difference between the store-bought treats and the homemade scone. The store-bought is slightly lower, but also significantly smaller in size, so relatively speaking the homemade is superior.

This graph shows the energy difference between the store-bought treats and the homemade scone. The store-bought is slightly lower, but also significantly smaller in size, so relatively speaking the homemade is superior.

This graph shows the salt content comparison of the store-bought and the homemade treats. Whilst homemade is higher, it is a larger serving and salt is used in the baking of scones. If anything, the salt content within the other sweet treats is alarmingly unnecessary and wouldn’t contribute towards anything.

This graph shows the salt content comparison of the store-bought and the homemade treats. Whilst homemade is higher, it is a larger serving and salt is used in the baking of scones. If anything, the salt content within the other sweet treats is alarmingly unnecessary and wouldn’t contribute towards anything.

Sweet treats macronutrient comparison

This graph shows the macronutrient differences between the treats; as you can see the homemade scone has a much higher fibre and protein content compared to the other treats and isn’t even the highest in fat, despite being the largest serving size.

Sweet treats fat breakdown

Ham and Cheese Sandwich Comparison

 Ham and Cheese Sandwich Comparison

This graph shows that the store-bought ham and cheese sandwich is significantly higher in calories comparative to the homemade sandwich.

This graph shows the significantly greater salt content (almost exceeding the RDA) of the store-bought sandwich over the homemade alternative.

This graph shows the significantly greater salt content (almost exceeding the RDA) of the store-bought sandwich over the homemade alternative.

This graph shows the macronutrient differences between the sandwiches; as you can see the homemade sandwich has a lower fat and carbohydrate content, as well as similar figures for protein and fibre

This graph shows the fat differences between the two sandwiches; as you can see the two sandwiches are fairly similar across the board offering a high amount of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.

This graph shows the fat differences between the two sandwiches; as you can see the two sandwiches are fairly similar across the board offering a high amount of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.

This graph shows the fat differences between the two sandwiches; as you can see the two sandwiches are fairly similar across the board offering a high amount of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.

Egg & Cress Sandwich Comparison

This graph shows that the store-bought egg and cress sandwich is significantly lower in calories comparative to the homemade sandwich.

This graph shows that the store-bought egg and cress sandwich is significantly lower in calories comparative to the homemade sandwich.

This graph shows the significantly greater salt content of the store-bought sandwich over the homemade alternative.

This graph shows the significantly greater salt content of the store-bought sandwich over the homemade alternative.

This graph shows the macronutrient differences between the sandwiches; as you can see the homemade sandwich has a lower fat and carbohydrate content, whilst having significantly greater figures for protein and fibre.

This graph shows the macronutrient differences between the sandwiches; as you can see the homemade sandwich has a lower fat and carbohydrate content, whilst having significantly greater figures for protein and fibre.

This graph shows the fat differences between the two sandwiches; as you can see the two sandwiches are fairly similar across the board offering a high amount of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.

This graph shows the fat differences between the two sandwiches; as you can see the two sandwiches are fairly similar across the board offering a high amount of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.

New York Deli Sandwich Comparison

This graph shows that the store-bought New York Deli sandwich is significantly higher in calories comparative to the homemade sandwich.

This graph shows that the store-bought New York Deli sandwich is significantly higher in calories comparative to the homemade sandwich.

This graph shows the significantly greater salt content (exceeding the RDA) of the store-bought sandwich over the homemade alternative.

This graph shows the significantly greater salt content (exceeding the RDA) of the store-bought sandwich over the homemade alternative.

This graph shows the macronutrient differences between the sandwiches; as you can see the homemade sandwich has a lower fat and carbohydrate content, as well as having greater figures for protein and fibre.

This graph shows the macronutrient differences between the sandwiches; as you can see the homemade sandwich has a lower fat and carbohydrate content, as well as having greater figures for protein and fibre.

This graph shows the fat differences between the two sandwiches; as you can see the store-bought sandwich is significantly higher in total and saturated fats.

This graph shows the fat differences between the two sandwiches; as you can see the store-bought sandwich is significantly higher in total and saturated fats.

Chorizo Baguette Comparison

Chorizo baguette comparison

This graph shows that the store-bought chorizo baguette is significantly higher in calories comparative to the homemade baguette.

This graph shows the significantly greater salt content (almost exceeding the RDA) of the store-bought baguette over the homemade alternative.

This graph shows the significantly greater salt content (almost exceeding the RDA) of the store-bought baguette over the homemade alternative.

This graph shows the macronutrient differences between the baguettes. The homemade baguette has significantly less carbohydrate and roughly equivalent fibre content compared to the store-bought baguette.

This graph shows the macronutrient differences between the baguettes. The homemade baguette has significantly less carbohydrate and roughly equivalent fibre content compared to the store-bought baguette.

This graph shows the fat differences between the two sandwiches; as you can see the homemade baguette is significantly higher in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.

This graph shows the fat differences between the two sandwiches; as you can see the homemade baguette is significantly higher in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.

Salad Comparison

This graph shows that the store-bought Caesar salad is significantly higher in calories comparative to the homemade salad.

This graph shows that the store-bought Caesar salad is significantly higher in calories comparative to the homemade salad.

This graph shows the significantly greater salt content (12x as much) of the store-bought salad over the homemade alternative.

This graph shows the significantly greater salt content (12x as much) of the store-bought salad over the homemade alternative.

This graph shows the macronutrient differences between the salads; as you can see the homemade salad has a significantly lower fat and carbohydrate content comparative to the store-bought salad.

This graph shows the macronutrient differences between the salads; as you can see the homemade salad has a significantly lower fat and carbohydrate content comparative to the store-bought salad.

This graph shows the fat differences between the two sandwiches; as you can see the two salads are fairly similar across the board offering a high amount of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.

This graph shows the fat differences between the two sandwiches; as you can see the two salads are fairly similar across the board offering a high amount of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.

RDA Comparisons

This graph shows the RDA for energy intake as well as the approximated energy total of the two picnic hampers; the homemade hamper is much more in line with RDAs for energy intake, and is significantly lower in calories in comparison to the store-bought.

This graph shows the RDA for energy intake as well as the approximated energy total of the two picnic hampers; the homemade hamper is much more in line with RDAs for energy intake, and is significantly lower in calories in comparison to the store-bought.

Fat comparison

This graph shows the RDA for fat intake as well as the approximated dietary fat total of the two picnic hampers; the homemade hamper is much more in line with RDAs for fat intake in comparison to the store-bought which almost doubles the RDA values.

Saturated fat comparison

This graph shows the RDA for saturated fat intake as well as the approximated saturated fat total of the two picnic hampers; the homemade hamper is much more in line with RDAs for saturated fat intake in comparison to the store-bought which is significantly greater than the RDAs for both men and women.

Protein comparison

This graph shows the RDA for protein intake as well as the approximated protein total of the two picnic hampers; the homemade hamper nearly doubles the RDA values.

Fibre comparison

This graph shows the RDA for fibre intake as well as the approximated fibre total of the two picnic hampers; the homemade hamper is much closer to achieving the RDA values which, in this instance, could be a good outcome given the benefits of adequate fibre intake for overall health.

Sodium comparison

This graph shows the RDA for sodium intake as well as the approximated sodium total of the two picnic hampers; the store-bought provides nearly 4x the RDA values, an alarming figure given what we know about excessive salt intake and overall health.

Key Findings

> Store-bought products were generally significantly higher in sodium

> If you ate the designated portions from the store-bought recipes then you would consume well over your recommended sodium allowance for a male or female

> Store-bought picnic resulted in much less fibre than Jonple recipes

> Store-bought picnic resulted in less protein than Jonple recipes

> Store-bought picnic resulted in overconsumption of recommended fat intake

> Store-bought products generally had much higher levels of fat

> Store-bought products generally had higher levels of saturated fat

> Store-bought picnic resulted in more saturated fat intake than Jonple recipes

> Store-bought picnic consumption resulted in daily calorie consumptions excess

Why Is Calorie Excess Bad for You?

Our body is akin to an organic machine, creating, breaking down and storing on a continual basis. Change in body size can be explained by a simple law of physics; the laws of thermodynamics. The laws of thermodynamics surround energy intake and output; we take in energy in the form of food and expend energy through various processes (our basal metabolic rate, the energy it costs to metabolize foods, our programmed exercise activity and the energy we expend in all other activities which are not programmed exercise).

If our energy in is equal to the energy we expend, our body will stay the same size. If energy in exceeds our energy output, we still store energy (an increase in weight). If energy in is less than the energy we expend, we will utilize existing stores of energy (a loss of weight). 

Therefore, an excessive number of calories can contribute to undesirable body fat and weight gain. Over time, this accumulation of body fat and weight will lead to a person becoming overweight and subsequently obese.

The rise in overweight and obese persons is a global health issue and one that most certainly plagues Western societies. Currently, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that around 40% of adults fall into these categories.

Why does this matter?

Well, it certainly isn’t for any aesthetic reason. In fact, raised BMI (referring to body mass index, a clinical measurement used for identifying someone as falling to an overweight or obese category) is a major risk factor for noncommunicable diseases such as:

> Cardiovascular diseases (mainly heart disease and stroke), which were the leading cause of death in 2012;

> Type II Diabetes;

> Musculoskeletal disorders (especially osteoarthritis – a highly disabling degenerative disease of the joints);

> Some cancers (including endometrial, breast, ovarian, prostate, liver, gallbladder, kidney, and colon).

One of the other major concerns, however often not brought up in the argument to support weight management efforts and projects, is the effect overweight and obesity can have on mental health. This is not solely based on how the person perceives themselves and or if they are suffering from poor physical health, but also how they’re treated by public perception and the frequent bombardment of stigmatizing language against their body.

This isn’t to suggest that you necessarily have to go on a diet, or that foods which are slightly higher in calories are always “bad” (as how “bad” a food is or how we interpret it as healthy should be dependent on its context within your total diet), but if you can save calories here and there, it may be of some benefit. 

Why Is Too Much Sodium Bad for You?

Salt has been used for millennia as a flavour enhancer and means of storing and cooking foods. Sodium (sodium chloride being the chemical name for salt) actually has a range of critically important roles in the body, essential for our health and survival.

Our body requires a small amount of sodium to conduct nerve impulses, contract and relax muscles, and maintain the proper balance of water and minerals. Without this we could end up very unwell, if not worse!

However, too much sodium in the diet can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. It can also cause calcium losses, some of which may be pulled from bone leaving you more susceptible to osteoporosis and fractures. 

It may be frightening to hear but excess sodium can damage our body even in the absence of clinically high blood pressure. Studies show that excess dietary sodium can adversely affect target organs, including the blood vessels, heart, kidneys, and brain.

From our nutritional breakdowns, it is quite clear that the processed alternatives are loaded with sodium in comparison to the homemade products and some even exceed the daily recommended intakes.

Yes, salt can make our foods taste better, but if a food needs an excessive amount of it just to be tasty, you can only imagine the quality of the products involved to create it and the care which has gone into making it. It, like other ingredients, should be a complimentary ingredient to enhance the flavour, not be the flavour itself. 

Why Do You Need to Try to EAT Your RDA Of Fibre?

Dietary fibre is a term that is used for plant-based carbohydrates that, unlike other carbohydrates (such as sugars and starch), we are not capable of digesting (simply due to their respective structure).

Adequate intake of fibre has a whole host of associated benefits. People who eat higher levels of dietary fibre and whole grains have lower rates of non-communicable diseases compared with people who eat lesser amounts, including a lower risk of heart disease, being overweight and obese, metabolic disorders and certain cancers.

Most people worldwide consume less than 20 g of dietary fibre per day. In 2015, the UK Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition recommended an increase in dietary fibre intake to 30 g per day; a figure which has been linked to the aforementioned protective effect on our health.

Fibre comes in two main forms; soluble and insoluble fibre.

The simple distinction between the two is that one type can dissolve in water and forms a gel like substance (soluble fibre) and one acts more like a sponge, bulking up when it interacts with water in our system (insoluble fibre). Of note, most fibre rich foods contain varying amounts of both kinds of fibre.

Soluble fibre has a range of unique beneficial functions;

> It slows digestion making you “feel fuller” and may help with weight loss. 

> Soluble fibre also slows the digestion and absorption of glucose, which regulates blood sugar levels and sensitivity to insulin — important factors in controlling diabetes and other metabolic disorders.

> Also, soluble fibre can interfere with the absorption of dietary cholesterol by binding to it and removing it in waste. This process also decreases LDL (bad) cholesterol in the blood, which helps lower the risk of heart disease.

> Finally, soluble fibre can also have a beneficial effect on our gut bacteria which, in of itself, has a vast range of unique benefits.

Insoluble fibre is pretty great too!

> It provides the bulk of our stools helping us to maintain our "waste disposal" systems. 

> It can reduce hunger, simply by taking up more room in the gut (which triggers the release of hormones telling your brain that you're full and reducing food intake by proxy). 

> Certain insoluble fibre is fermentable by the bacteria in our colons, contributing to improved colon health and a reduced risk of colorectal cancer.

Trying to achieve that 30g target seems pretty important don’t you think? So, going for options which are higher in fibre would be the best idea as this will make hitting that mark a lot more straightforward.

Speaking of which, the homemade picnic options would actually have you sitting at just under the 30g mark (in around 25g) for the day, which could be easily filled out with an apple or some other piece of fruit, serving of veggies, wholegrains, beans and or legumes to get you to there (if not exceed it!).

Why Is Consuming Too Much Fat Bad for You?

Fats are the most energy dense of the three major macronutrients (protein, fats and carbohydrates) coming in at 9kcal per gram.

What does this mean? Well, essentially, you can be consuming quite a lot of calories for a relatively small food serving. Processed foods are often stuffed with fats; mainly because they’re cheap to use in production and often are quite palatable. However, WHO actually states in their recommendations to help improve the global weight management crisis that processed food manufacturers should aim to reduce the fat, sugar and salt content.

We know that excess calories can be potentially harmful for our health, but a high fat diet may carry other risks as well, especially a more Western style diet.

The Western diet is rich in all the wrong nutrients; more specifically when it comes to fat you can expect to see higher intakes of saturated and trans fats (the “bad” fats) with lower intakes of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (the “healthy” fats).

The “bad” fats can ultimately lead to less desirable cholesterol levels and increase your risk of heart disease whereas the “healthy” fats can flip that script and have a protective effect on your heart health.

Why Is Consuming Too Much Saturated Fat Bad for You?

To further understand why it may serve your health and happiness better to swap in homemade picnic products over the processed alternatives, we’ll discuss why consuming too much saturated fat is bad for you.

As highlighted, saturated fat falls into that category of “bad fats” i.e. those which negatively impact our health (especially our cardiovascular health).

But why are saturated fats “bad” for us?

Well, they increase the number of “bad” cholesterol; low-density lipoproteins (LDL), the type of cholesterol renowned for forming the plaques within our blood vessels.

These plaques are made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances found in the blood. Over time, the plaque hardens and narrows your arteries. This limits the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your organs and other parts of your body.

If these plaques rupture the individual may suffer a stroke or heart attack. These plaques are also associated with heart disease as well as kidney disease.

The government currently recommends that;

> Men should not eat more than 30g of saturated fat a day

> Women should not eat more than 20g of saturated fat a day

minimising our intake of this type of fat would therefore be advisable, whilst swapping in those which are richer in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats instead. These fats can improve total cholesterol levels whilst also increasing our “good” cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein or HDL, a form of cholesterol which can actually clean up the gunk and other kinds of fats which form the plaques we discussed).

As you can see from the nutritional analysis comparison, once again, the homemade produce comes out on top in this regard. Calorie friendly, salt friendly, fibre friendly and now fat friendly; you’d be hard-pressed to choose the processed alternatives based on all this (and the fact we’re tastier too!). 

Summary

Picnic season is upon us and millions of hungry enthusiasts will be clambering to select the right options for their hamper.

A few decades back, creating one’s own picnic hamper selection at home was second nature and buying from a store wouldn’t even be considered. Nowadays however, the supermarket chains have flooded their shelves with highly processed picnic options designed to “make life easier”; well, apparently unhealthier too!

Our nutritional comparison provides a pretty staunch argument for selecting the homemade options in this one-sided fight. Across the board the homemade produce wins out and, if we do say so ourselves, wins the flavour fight too!

Summer picnics are a wonderful experience, but don’t let them pull your health down; you can easily have both an amazing time and continue to manage your health the right way if you go homemade and leave the nastier options where they belong: on the shelf!

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