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Shop Bought Meals Vs Homemade Meals…What’s The Difference?
Posted: 19th October 2017

Xylose, Dextrose, Maltodextrin and Thiamin. Recognise any of these ingredients?

Neither do we. We decided to pick up a popular shop bought meal and find out what really gives these so called ready-made “healthy” fresh meals such a long shelf-life in comparison to a regular homemade or Simply Fit Food meal.

Example : Irish Carvery Style Roast Chicken Dinner

Contents: Roast Chicken, creamy mash potato, carrots, peas, stuffing and gravy

Your typical Sunday dinner right?

Wrong! The list of ingredients was over a paragraph long, listing some ingredients most people would never have heard of.

The chicken was made up of 24% roast chicken breast but also contained water, salt, rice flour (a thickening agent), Dextrose, Xylose and Maltodextrin.

At the front of the packaging it said ‘Produced in Ireland” so to your average consumer you would think the ingredients are sourced in Ireland. Wrong, at the back of the packet in small writing stated the following “produced in Ireland using Thai chicken”.

To colour the gravy plain caramel was used along with other flavouring’s.


We took some of the ingredients that most consumers wouldn’t be familiar with and simplified them.


Dextrose: Is a type of sugar often found in baking products. In this case it’s found in chicken. It acts as a sweetening agent in processed food, enhances food colouring’s & is known to extend shelf-life on packaged food. Which would explain why it’s in this shop bought meal.


Xylose: A low digestible carbohydrate that resists starch. It is known to raise blood sugar levels and its recommended that diabetics don’t consume products containing xylose.


Maltodextrin: This is often found in the likes of yoghurt and salad dressings and cheese. It acts as a thickener or preservative, helping bind ingredients together in processed food. It is made from starch, most commonly rice, potato or wheat starch. Maltodextrin is widely available and at a very cheap price. In short it’s known as a carb used to thicken substances such as sauce, in this case gravy.

It is also a common ingredient found in meal replacement shakes (yet another reason to steer clear of them!) and sugar free sweeteners like Splenda.

Dangers of Maltodextrin:

  1. Causes a spike in your blood sugar levels which can be dangerous for someone who is diabetic.
  2. Reduce the growth of good bacteria (Probiotics) which fight infection
  3. Has no nutritional value – a teaspoon contains approx. 15 calories


Processed foods that contain these types of ingredients are generally cheaper than a homemade meal. This is due to the perishability of fresh food and also the cheap cost of preservatives used.

It’s often said to try and avoid foods that contain more than 6-7 ingredients as the more ingredients in packaged food the more highly processed it is likely to be.


The great advantage of eating Simply Fit Food meals or any other homemade meal is that they contain no additives or preservatives such as the ones mentioned above. We only ever use a maximum of 5-7 ingredients in our meals and these are usually broken into a carb, protein, mixture of vegetables and spices. Although these meals do not have as long a shelf-life the food you are consuming if far more nutritious and healthy for you than a shop bought ready-made meal.

So next time you pick up a shop bought ready-made meal, bag of crisps, or even shop bought soup have a look at the nutritional information on the back. It might surprise you the number of ingredients you don’t recognize

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