The initiative is called Change 4 Life, which is spearheaded by Ainsley Harriott, the celebrity chef and also by leading supermarkets. It recommends recipes and a range of dishes like cheese turnovers to chilli con carne.
However, even though the recipes contain a low calorie count, nutritionists are warning that many of the recipes use unhealthy and processed ingredients.
One recipe for cauliflower cheese has raised concern as it advises people to use a packet sauce to save time.
One of the participating supermarkets, the Co-op, offers packets of cheese sauce, which reportedly contains 13 ingredients including cheese powder made from additives, regularly used in processed food to extend their shelf life.
A serving of the sauce which is supposed to serve four people, has almost half the government’s recommended daily allowance of saturated fat and also has a high salt content.
Helen Money, nutritionist, said it is good that the government are encouraging people to live healthier lifestyles, but she is disappointed by many of the recipes featured in Change 4 Life.
She told the MailOnline, “I would not advise my clients to eat the sauce as described.
“The campaign is trying to suggest quick easy meals for people to cook when they get home from work but there are much healthier meals that can be cooked quickly and easily.”
She also added, “I also do not like the term supermeals and if using it at all, I would not classify meals such as this in it.”
Charlotte Watts, nutritional therapist, told the Metro, “This is a highly processed, denaturalised version of a meal that most people already make fresh from the ingredients in their fridge.
“Putting a healthy label on it is not just half baked, it is dangerous.”
As well as some people already having fresh ingredients in their fridge, restaurants have also started offering healthier alternatives and are being backed up by cheap restaurant insurance providers, supplies and other people in the food industry.
As part of the campaign, ASDA, Aldi and Co-op stores across the UK are offering discounts of basics such as vegetables, fruits and fish.
Ainsley Harriott has also helped make a cookbook featuring a collection of healthy dishes that can be made for under a fiver.
Anna Milton, Public health minister, said “The new year is a good time to think about losing weight.
“Some areas in inner cities are fresh food deserts so families fall into eating takeaway chicken and chips.”
A spokesperson from the Department of Health defended the choice of ingredients, adding, “The point of the campaign is to help families to make quick, healthy, inexpensive meals.
“Making meals from scratch can take time and be a bit more expensive. Sometimes shortcuts can help.”