Smokes, milk and soft drink most purchased items

QUICK and easy meals are flying off supermarket shelves - purchased by tradies and time-poor parents.

After compiling a list of the 10 most popular shopping items from five Gladstone supermarkets this week, The Observer can reveal cooking is not high on residents' agendas.

Among the most popular items were cigarettes, ready-to-go meals, milk, bread and cooked chicken.

Minced meat and sausages were rated by one store but didn't make the cut at the other four.

Spar Express Sun Valley owner manager Shane Ford said he found customers shopped in shifts, depending on their work schedules.

"First thing in the morning we have tradies coming in to grab coffee milks, smokes and pies," he said.

"Later in the day (the demographic) changes to healthier options for housewives and their children with flavoured milk, orange juice, snack packs and muesli bars."

Mr Ford said the afternoon was all about the quick dinner options.

"We sell a lot of barbecue chooks and veggies to go with it," he said.

"It's all about something easy. A packet of frozen veggies or something like that."

Dietician Megan Leane said quick and easy eating was adding to Gladstone's obesity problem.

New University of Adelaide research released earlier this month shows 7159 men and 5465 women living in the Gladstone Regional Council area are obese, while 8232 men and 4907 women are overweight.

That's 25,763, or 40.7%, of the region's 63,000 residents.

"The on-the-go stuff you should be looking for are salad kits, low-fat pre-made lasagnes," she said.

"The 97% fat free commercial frozen meals are a good alternative to a pie and pizza."

Mrs Leane said a dependency on quick meals resulted in chronic disease.

"You're likely to risk suffering with type two diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity," she said.

"There is a misconception around the cost of living healthy.

"I do understand the cheap and cheerful foods do look appealing with the dollar sign on them.

"One kilogram of apples costs about a $6 and a 1kg of muesli bars costs $13."

Most popular items:

1. Cigarettes; 2. Milk; 3. Soft drink; 4. Bread; 5. Cooked chicken; 6. Iced coffee; 7. Confectionary; 8. Chips; 9. Fresh meals on the go; 10. Eggs

Robert Conti has just bought hotdogs and bread for dinner.
Robert Conti has just bought hotdogs and bread for dinner. Campbell Gellie

It's tough to eat well living away from home

AFTER a long day at work, tradesman Robert Conti doesn't have the energy to cook.

Yesterday, he had soft drinks, Gatorade, three varieties of muesli bars, chips, hot dogs, bread and canned tuna in his shopping bag, with no fruit or vegetables in sight.

Mr Conti moved to Gladstone for work and said living away from his family had made eating healthily difficult.

"Sometimes for dinner I only have bread or chips," he said. "Often I am too tired from work and have no time to cook."

He spends up to $150 on food a week and stocks up on groceries every second day.

"I cook a lot of rice and take that to work for lunch," he said.

"The only time I would have takeaway is during a smoko break at work because it can be too expensive for dinner."

When he does have time to cook, he said his meals were simple and comforting.

"I will have burgers with cheese or pork and rice. Tonight I will be having hot dogs in bread," he said.

"I don't like eating fresh fish but I do eat a lot of canned tuna."

After work he relaxes by watching TV, has a quick meal and spends most of the night talking to his family.

He said being able to work away and support his family meant his unhealthy lifestyle was worthwhile.

"I love my family and working here is giving them a better life."

Anna Charlie does her big Wednesday shop.
Anna Charlie does her big Wednesday shop. Campbell Gellie

Cooking at home saves money for big-eating family

SPENDING $250 each week on groceries for her family, Anna Clarke cooks to save money and eat healthily.

She doesn't work and so has the time to cook for her "big-eating" husband and busy children.

In her shopping trolley yesterday was a variety of meats - mince, chicken and beef.

"I use the mince for spaghetti bolognese on busy days, chicken for stir-fries and beef for roasts," she said.

"There are pies and noodles for when the kids get home from school hungry. We used to buy confectionery and chips but we have started to steer away from that lately."

Mrs Clarke said it was cheaper to cook at home than it was to eat out.

"If we go out it costs more than $80. If we get take-away it's around $60.

"So it's cheaper to cook your meals and have snacks for the kids."

Other regular items in the Mrs Clarke's trolley were cans of tuna, potato gems, milk, dog food and garlic bread.

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