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Our guide to high-protein, low-calorie Tesco meal deals

We're here to remove the hassle from meal (deal) time.

Our Guide to High-Protein, Low-Calorie Tesco Meal Deals | Juniper

We totally get it. Navigating Tesco’s meal deals is no mean feat, especially when you’re trying to eat well. 

Which mains, sides, snacks, and drinks are better for you? Which ones aren’t so great for your health? And which high-protein meal deal options should you go for when there are just. so. many to choose from?

We're here to remove the hassle from meal (deal) time. Consider this the ultimate guide to Tesco high-protein meal deals and what to steer clear of when picking your spread.

What to avoid when choosing a Tesco meal deal

Tesco’s meal deals are excellent value. For anywhere from £3.90 to £12, you can grab a main, side and drink, and possibly even dessert.

And with a Tesco Clubcard, you can almost always grab a meal deal for even less.

There are lots and lots (and lots) of meal deals to choose from, with mains including sarnies, wraps, pasta salads, steaks and ready meals, sides like crisps and yogurt, desserts, and a bunch of drinks.

With so many choices available, it can be tricky navigating the healthiest ones — as well as the ones that aren’t ideal for your well-being.

To help you figure out which ones are best left on the shelf, let's go through some things you want to avoid. 

Here’s a handy tip: Tesco makes things easy for you by providing a colour-coded nutritional information chart. Each food includes its fat, saturated fat, salt and sugar content per 100g, with a traffic light colour system to indicate whether that food’s content is high, medium or low.

Highly-processed foods

Also known as ultra-processed foods, these are foods that have numerous ingredients not found in the average home kitchen (like artificial flavours and colours, emulsifiers and other additives), long shelf life and, quite often, lots of sugar, salt, and saturated fat [1].

Think packaged snacks, biscuits, pastries, crisps, breakfast cereals, fast food, and fizzy drinks.

Ultra-processed foods are pretty problematic because they’re linked to a host of health problems. These include high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and several cancers [2].

Now we’re not saying you need to keep away from them entirely, necessarily.

Sometimes ultra-processed foods can be near impossible to avoid, plus there’s a wide spectrum within the category (wholemeal bread versus a frozen pizza, for example).

It’s simply about being mindful and ensuring you balance ultra-processed foods with plenty of fresh and whole foods, like fruit, veg, lean meats, and so on.

High-salt foods

Salt is another common culprit when it comes to pre-prepared foods.

A little bit of the stuff isn’t necessarily bad for your health, but too much of it could cause all kinds of issues — like heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure [3].

If you’ve got the option, buy sides without any added salt, like fresh fruit or raw, unsalted nuts.

Check food labels to see which ones are higher or lower in sodium (salt) content and try to avoid adding extra salt to your meals, too.

Sugary foods

Sugar can be problematic, as it’s linked to things like obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease [4].

Many meal deals let you add a dessert or sugary side, but your best bet is to add a more nutritious choice like fruit or yogurt. 

We’re definitely not saying you need to cut out treats entirely. Sometimes a chocolate bar at the end of a rough day is just what the doctor ordered. Instead, it’s all about moderation and making conscious picks.

Fizzy drinks on the side

In a similar vein, fizzy drinks are packed with sugar. For instance, a 300ml can could contain the equivalent of up to 13 teaspoons of sugar [5].

Refined carbs

Refined carbs (AKA simple carbs) have had most or all the nutritious stuff stripped from them: fibre, vitamins, and minerals. White bread, pastries, and white rice are good examples.

The problem with refined carbs is that eating too much of them can lead to all kinds of issues, like high blood pressure, mood disorders, insulin resistance and obesity, plus they can contribute to poor gut health [6].

Saturated fats

Saturated fats are found in lots of different foods, such as pastries, dairy products and deli meats.

Excessive saturated fat consumption raises your LDL cholesterol levels (the kind of cholesterol you don’t want) and increases your risk of heart disease, stroke, and weight gain [7].

Faux health foods

You might think all vegetarian or vegan meals, fruit juices, diet fizzy drinks, vegetable crisps, and cereal bars are healthier options, but that’s not always the case. 

Meat-free foods can be just as high in sodium and saturated fat; fruit juices still contain sugar; diet fizzy drinks typically contain artificial sweeteners; vegetable crisps are high in salt; and cereal bars are often high in sugar.

How to choose the best high-protein Tesco meal deal options

So with all of this in mind, what are your best bets when it comes to meal deals — particularly if you’re trying to up your protein intake and reduce calories?

Given they can change fairly often (and there are also seasonal specials around holidays like Christmas), we’ve put together some guidelines for what to choose rather than dive into specific meal deals. 

Also, remember that many ready meals and other dishes at Tesco are often labelled ‘high protein’ or ‘calorie-controlled’ if you’ve got a preference for either.

You can also search for brands like Tesco Beautifully Balanced, Tesco Plant Chef, Bol and The Gym Kitchen, all of which have lots of great high-protein options.

Mains

Whether it’s a sarnie or wrap, or a pre-cooked meal, there are a few things to look out for.

High-protein fillings

Tesco has a bunch of yummy sandwiches, wraps, and pasta dishes that contain high-protein fillings.

These include egg salad, tuna, chicken, beef, and plant-based proteins like beans. The other good thing is that many of these protein sources are fairly lean, meaning they’re often lower in calories.

We like: Tesco Finest Ranch Steaks, Tesco Tuna & Cucumber Sandwich, Tesco Chicken & Sweetcorn Sandwich, The Gym Kitchen Chicken Tikka Chilled Wrap

Whole grains

Whole grains aren’t just packed with more nutrients — they’re also often higher in protein.

In fact, 45g of quinoa has 6.35g of protein, oats have around 6g per 45g, and the same serving of wheat has 6.93g [8].

At Tesco, you can opt for sandwiches made with malted bread (a barley-wheat blend enriched with fibre), white bread with oatmeal, and rye. You can also often get mains and salads that include various whole grains, like quinoa and brown rice.

We like: Tesco Egg & Cress Sandwich, Tuna & Sweetcorn Sandwich

Veg

Tesco has numerous meal deal mains and ready meals that include veg as a main ingredient.

Whether it’s a nourishing salad with a mix of vegetables, proteins and grains, a veg curry or a bowl of pasta with different types of produce, there are several great options to pick from.

Vegetables are excellent if you’re watching calories because they’re typically low in energy and packed with fibre — meaning you’ll feel fuller for longer.

We like: Tesco Beautifully Balanced Mexican Inspired Chicken Salad, Tesco Beautifully Balanced Chicken, Broccoli & Almond Salad

Sides, snacks and desserts

This is where it can be tempting to go for a cheeky packet of crisps or a tasty dessert, but being conscious about your food choices can help you curb the craving. 

Raw, unsalted nuts

A selection of raw nuts is filled with protein — up to 7g per handful, depending on the kinds of nuts you’re eating.

Raw nuts also contain unsaturated fat, B vitamins, vitamin E, and a bunch of minerals [9].

If you’re counting calories, just make sure you don’t go overboard. While they’re undeniably good for you, nuts are high in energy — up to 225 calories per handful.

Cheese

Cheese is super high in protein, containing around 25g per 100g [10]. Usually, you can find a few snacks and sides at Tesco that are simply a serving of cheese.

Bear in mind that cheese is also fairly high in saturated fat and sodium, so try not to go overboard.

We like: Strings & Things Twin Pack

Fruit and veg

You know we’re big fans of veg when it comes to Tesco meal deals, and luckily, there are plenty of snacks and sides that are big on the stuff.

Think a snack-sized serving of houmous and carrot sticks or a side of mixed greens to go with your £12 dinner.

Fruit is also a great option for a side, snack or dessert. While it is a sweet treat, fruit is fairly low in calories and full of fibre. Make sure to go for fresh fruit rather than fruit snacks.

We like: Tesco Plant Chef Carrot & Houmous, Tesco Finest Green Vegetable Selection, Babybel Light Cheese, Apple & Grape, Tesco Pineapple Chunks

Eggs

If you fancy plain hard-boiled eggs, you can easily grab a couple via Tesco’s Protein Pots. These are generally available as a side as part of a lunch meal deal.

Eggs are solid sources of protein, containing around 6g per egg [11].

They’re also reasonably low in calories and full of vitamins. In fact, eggs contain every vitamin except vitamin C [12].

We like: Tesco Egg Protein Pot

High-protein yogurts

If you’re after something sweet, Tesco has some solid high-protein, low-calorie yogurts on offer. 

We like: Arla Protein Strawberry Yogurt

Drinks

Steer clear of fizzy drinks and go for these healthier options instead.

Water

Water is always a good pick when it comes to drinks. It’s totally free from calories and is the best way to stay hydrated [13]. Plus, you’re not ingesting lots of sugar, as you would with a fizzy drink.

You can always opt for still or sparkling water as part of your Tesco meal deal, as well as flavoured water or water with added electrolytes — ideal if you’re working out.

We like: Evian Natural Bottled Mineral Still Water, San Pellegrino Sparkling Natural Mineral Water, Volvic Touch of Fruit Strawberry Still Flavoured Water, Glaceau Smartwater

Coconut water

Coconut water is another top drink option because it’s low in calories, offers electrolytes and, according to some research, has antioxidant properties [14]. Usually, you can grab coconut water as part of Tesco’s lunch meal deals.

We like: Vita Coco Natural Coconut Water

Make healthier eating choices with Juniper

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Our team of dietitians, health coaches, and clinicians are there every step of the way, and provide you with expert advice to help you improve your lifestyle and tackle weight loss head-on.

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