My recent outbreak of snobbery about Bradley Stoke’s Willow Brook Centre certainly attracted some interest, which is always good for the number of hits this site attracts and, I suppose, all publicity is good publicity. I still can’t stand most of the place but for a person whose T shirts of choice come at the very reasonable price of two for £8 from Sainsburys and whose last pair of trainers came from Tesco, snobbery is not a good look.

One thing I haven’t changed my mind about is the number of stores and takeaways that deal almost exclusively in high fat, high sugar, processed ready meals and why people feel the need to use them.

It is fair to say that over the years I have had my share of Greggs, Subway (god knows why Subway, which takes processed food to new levels and depths) and KFC. That was why, some years ago, for the first time ever I had to start looking at what I ate because of waistline consequences. Going from someone who never put on weight to someone who did because of the passage of time did not come easy at first, but soon my eating habits became better, healthier and, much to my surprise, cheaper.

I can see the attraction, in terms of saving time, of diving into a shop and filling up my trolley with pies, lasagnes and the like, which take a matter of minutes to heat in a microwave. But were they any cheaper to prepare than, say a stir fry meal, with chicken breasts or a poached fish dish, with fresh vegetables? We found we were actually spending less on food by eating better, which really, really surprised me. And this week Asda came up with their ‘Wonky Box’ of misshaped vegetables, “enough to feed a family of four for a week at a cost of £3.50”, allegedly. Go to Aldi and Lidl and fresh veg is not that expensive, or less expensive than you might think. And it’s very good. I know because I was that junk food junkie.

I say this honestly not to decry those who work hard, but prefer to eat processed food in ready meals rather than cook with fresh food. I grew up with cast offs and leftovers from the butcher’s and greengrocer’s and local dairy, so believe me I know exactly what it’s like to eat what is known technically as crap food. And some of those processed food ready meals sure taste good when you’re in a hurry. It certainly took some persuading for me to being accustomed to new friends like broccoli and asparagus, but once my pallet changed and adapted to the new style of eating I soon found out it was better, for me anyway.

I will always have room for a Greggs when I am in a hurry and I don’t mean something healthy involving chicken and some salad, and KFC, even though I know it’s a heart attack in a box, is a guilty pleasure maybe once a year, probably less.

In the end, it’s all about what you like and I’m sorry if I patronised too much in what was supposed to be a semi-humorous piece. I find it cheaper and better to eat freshly prepared food, but if ready meals are your bag, what business is it of mine?