Wednesday, 18 April 2018

FOOD: The Greggs Balanced Choice breakfast and lunch challenge

Greggs balanced choice food review with comparisons including calories and Weight Watchers smart points for Costa, Caffe Nero, Marks & Spencer and Pret a Manger

So for the last year and a bit, I’ve been… er, healthy? As a lazy, junk-food loving girl it surprised me too when I stuck to it for so long, but it’s all about finding a routine that works for you. I still have junk-food, but a little less of it and a little more of the green stuff. And I actually exercise these days. Yeah, that part’s still weird.

Anyway, Greggs got in touch to ask if I’d like to take part in their Balanced Choice challenge to see how Greggs and their high street competitors fare when trying to eat healthily. Basically, they’ve partnered with Public Health England on their One You campaign, after studies revealed that on average people are eating an extra 200-300 calories a day. Things like that sugary soft drink, that large bag of crisps or that mayonnaise sandwich (or salad!) can all add up, and the new campaign is encouraging adults to follow a simple rule of thumb if they’d like to eat a bit healthily when on the go - 400 calories or under for breakfast, and 600 calories or under for lunch and 600 calories or under for dinner.

So! Armed with some giftcards and a rumbling tummy, I spent the last week eating breakfast and lunch at Caffe Nero, Costa, Pret A Manger, M&S and finally Greggs to see how they measured up. I'm including both calories and Weight Watchers Smart Points (SP) below. So let's see how everyone fared.



I started with Pret A Manger. I eat at Pret a lot - it's the closest eaterie to my office, and I know I can usually get something healthy and delicious. I do, however, regularly balk at the price. It's shockingly easy to spend close to a tenner in there on a salad and some fruit.

For breakfast, I started with their Bircher Muesli pot which was 308 cals and 13SP and my beloved mango and lime pot which was 91 cals (fruit is free on Weight Watchers). There were some lower options such as their beans and egg pots, but I was rushing to a meeting and didn't want anything hot that would either smell or go cold. The muesli was really good and surprisingly filling, but it was an expensive breakfast of around £5 (typically, I've lost the receipt).

Greggs balanced choice food review with comparisons including calories and Weight Watchers smart points for Costa, Caffe Nero, Marks & Spencer and Pret a Manger

For lunch, I went with another fave - the Greens and Grains bowl which is 343 cals and 8SP. I eat this quite a lot - it's a big salad with lots of chicken, couscous and veggies and a seriously delicious dressing. Again though, it was expensive - around the £5 mark.

Greggs balanced choice food review with comparisons including calories and Weight Watchers smart points for Costa, Caffe Nero, Marks & Spencer and Pret a Manger

Pret a Manger
1. Ease of finding nutritional information - 5
2. Freshness of product - 5
3. Taste - 5
4. Visual appeal - 5
5. Value for money - 2
= 22 / 25

Next up I went for M&S - again, somewhere I go to a lot. It's actually the most likely place on the list for me to grab breakfast too - I often nip into the one at Euston if I'm in London for a meeting.

For breakfast I went for a Bircher Muesli again, but this time was a cocoa one for 270 cals (9SP) and a fruit pot (67 cals). The muesli was a little weird - kind of like eating chocolate mousse for breakfast! Like with Pret, it wasn't challenging finding breakfast under 400 calories, but most of the options are very high in sugar and not WW-friendly. M&S wasn't the cheapest option, but better value than Pret.

Greggs balanced choice food review with comparisons including calories and Weight Watchers smart points for Costa, Caffe Nero, Marks & Spencer and Pret a Manger

For lunch I had the avocado and egg nourish bowl for 333 calories (8SP), which I've had before - it's super tasty and filling and I love the generous dollop of houmous. This was around £3, and much better value than the Pret lunch.

Greggs balanced choice food review with comparisons including calories and Weight Watchers smart points for Costa, Caffe Nero, Marks & Spencer and Pret a Manger

M&S
1. Ease of finding nutritional information - 5
2. Freshness of product - 5
3. Taste - 4
4. Visual appeal - 5
5. Value for money - 3
= 22 / 25

Day 3! And it's Caffe Nero a place I never go. I don't drink coffee, so I rarely eat in coffee shops - I don't have much reason to visit them apart from exciting seasonal specials! I went for a granola pot (211 cals / 9SP) which was nice, if tooth-achingly sweet, and a disappointing fruit salad full of pippy oranges, boo (79 cals). I wasn't impressed with this, it wasn't remotely filling and that fruit salad really was very disappointing.

Greggs balanced choice food review with comparisons including calories and Weight Watchers smart points for Costa, Caffe Nero, Marks & Spencer and Pret a Manger

For lunch, there were no healthy options at all - no salads, just toasties and paninis. I don't actually eat a lot of bread as I find it a bit heavy, especially for lunch, so I knew I'd be going for a higher-calorie option. That said, there wasn't a problem finding something under 600 or even 400 calories and I really enjoyed my choice - the mushroom and mascarpone melt, which was 395 cals (13SP). This was seriously delicious, and I didn't think the calories or points were too high considering how cheesy it was! And you know how much this girl loves cheese. It was pretty reasonably priced too - I always thought of Nero as a pricier option.

Greggs balanced choice food review with comparisons including calories and Weight Watchers smart points for Costa, Caffe Nero, Marks & Spencer and Pret a Manger

Caffe Nero
1. Ease of finding nutritional information - 4
2. Freshness of product - 4
3. Taste - 4
4. Visual appeal - 4
5. Value for money - 3
= 19 / 25

Now for another coffee shop - Costa, and I was not super impressed. Someone on Instagram assures me that they do granola and whatnot, but my local Costa only had toasties on offer for breakfast - not even a fruit pot! The ham and cheese toastie was a reasonable 307 calories (10SP) but it wasn't very nice. I carried it back to work and it was cold and tough by the time I got to it. Also, is it an old-lady thing to say that I expected it to be cut in half?

Greggs balanced choice food review with comparisons including calories and Weight Watchers smart points for Costa, Caffe Nero, Marks & Spencer and Pret a Manger

Lunch was a bit better - I had the chicken fajita wrap which was 428 cals (13SP). I thought it was really small for the calorie count and not all that filling - I was foraging around for snacks within an hour. It's not the cheapest to buy toasties for breakfast and lunch, but was on a similar level to Nero.

Greggs balanced choice food review with comparisons including calories and Weight Watchers smart points for Costa, Caffe Nero, Marks & Spencer and Pret a Manger

Costa Coffee
1. Ease of finding nutritional information - 3
2. Freshness of product - 3
3. Taste - 3
4. Visual appeal - 3
5. Value for money - 3
= 15 / 25

And finally I went to Greggs! What I actually realised was that much of Greggs' menu is lower in calories than I assumed. Even a sausage roll would be a viable breakfast option at 349 cals (although a wee bit high on fat). There were some hot options like porridge, but again I was rushing to a 9am meeting so I nabbed a granola pot for 214 cals (9SP) and a pineapple pot (69 cals). It was nice - it wasn't anywhere near as sweet as the Nero one, which was great. Usually these pots have a layer of fruit that's basically jam. And it was really good value.

Greggs balanced choice food review with comparisons including calories and Weight Watchers smart points for Costa, Caffe Nero, Marks & Spencer and Pret a Manger

For lunch, I was eyeing their new wraps and got the coconut, lime and chilli chicken wrap. I was expecting something creamy and Thai-style, which it wasn't, but it was still tasty and spicier than I thought it'd be. It was 340 cals or 11SP, and I got a fruit pot for 92 cals. It wasn't the prettiest lunch option in this challenge, but tasted good and there were lots of options. It's definitely made me realise I need to pop into Greggs more when I'm out and about as it makes it much easier to eat healthily. And it slayed all the competition on value for money - I spent about half the price in Greggs than in its competitors.

Greggs balanced choice food review with comparisons including calories and Weight Watchers smart points for Costa, Caffe Nero, Marks & Spencer and Pret a Manger

Greggs
1. Ease of finding nutritional information - 5
2. Freshness of product - 4
3. Taste - 4
4. Visual appeal - 4
5. Value for money - 5
= 22 / 25

And that was my week! So Greggs, Pret and M&S scored top which is impressive - while Greggs didn't score quite as high on taste, it beat everyone on value. It was especially interesting to see how everything added up on Weight Watchers points. Not so great, if I'm honest - most of the lunches were fine, but it's really difficult to get a low-point breakfast on the go. I usually eat less than 5 points for breakfast, and didn't find anything that was less than 10. It pushed me over my points allowance every day that I did this challenge. Also, eating breakfast on the go is actually the opposite of convenient for me - as I drive to work, I don't walk past any eateries so had to get in early to run up to the high street each day, and I ate a fair bit of cold food at my desk. I think I'll stick to yogurt and fruit at my desk.

For lunches though, I found lots of new options - I may be popping to Nero for the occasional treaty lunch in future and Greggs is definitely going to have a new regular. Their ham and potato salad is really low in points, as is their chicken oval bite - I really like the fact that I can have a proper sandwich there and stay on plan. Their Balanced Choice range is all clearly marked by green stickers, is all under 400 calories and meets green and amber on the traffic light system. There's also loads of info on their website (which is another black mark for Costa - why is your food not on your website, guys?). It was a fun week though and definitely pushed me out of my yogurt'n'soup comfort zone for a bit!

~+~ This post was written in collaboration with Greggs, but all opinions are of course my own.
SHARE:

No comments

Post a Comment

Comments make my day. :) I love you.

© Essbeevee | Hertfordshire, London, St Albans, Tring food, lifestyle, interiors & travel blog. All rights reserved.
Blogger templates by pipdig