A traditional lunch in Uganda consists of 5-6 components of starch, accompanied with small bits of meat and a bean stew. The lunch is unhealthy and leads to obesity. We have made an alternative.

At the photo are the regular lunch of our volunteer coordinator Molly, and our alternative.

Local ingredients

The focus of the alternative lunch was to use indigenous nutritious food and prepare them in a simple and culturally acceptable manner with each recipe component consisting of about 2-3 ingredients. Still, the alternative lunch included the beef stew and kidney bean stew served at the office regularly. It was then supplemented by a mixed mash of pumpkin, potato and carrot, a watermelon and avocado salad topped with roasted pumpkin seeds and lastly a tomato salsa with red onions.

The health gains

A change in nutrient contents when comparing the two meals was obvious. By reducing the amount of starchy foods on the plate, the carbohydrate content was reduced by approximately 50%. Serving of the alternative lunch resulted in an increased amount of several vitamins and minerals including an estimated increase of vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin K by 90%, 32% and 663%, respectively. In addition, the amount of saturated fat was reduced by approximately 30%.

The economic gains

To ensure the usefulness, it is essential, that the dishes are created of commodities that are easily accessible pricewise to the local population in spite of economic status. By comparing the costs of the alternative and the regular lunch, a reduction in the price of 2.097 UGX per person was found (table 1). Therefore, the changes will not pose a financial burden. Moreover, it will practically save time since the alternative contains more uncooked, fresh components.

Table 1 Estimated prices for the regular and alternative lunch

This is a good example of how little it takes to change the nutritional composition of a meal when rethinking the use of indigenous foods, and that it is actually manageable with local available foods at an equal or lower price level.

Recipes for the alternative lunch (excluding meat and bean stew) (pdf)


Alternative Lunch 2

Local ingredients

The second alternative lunch served for our colleagues consisted of rice with chopped vegetables, a red cabbage salad with diced vegetables and an oil-, honey- and lemon juice dressing topped with sesame seeds served with the beef stew from the regular lunch.

The health gains

By focusing on using rice as the only starchy component from the regular lunch, the content of carbohydrate was reduced by approximately 55%. Furthermore, the saturated fat was reduced by 30% and vitamin C and K increased by 251% and 187%.

The economic gains

The alternative lunch resulted in a saving of 23,200 UGX in total and 3,314 UGX per person (table 2).

Table 1 Estimated prices for the regular and alternative lunch

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