The Handbook
The Handbook

If your new year’s resolution included ‘eat healthier in 2021’, you wouldn’t be alone. Millions of others have also vowed to enter 2021 with an end goal of being healthier, whether that’s getting out and moving a little more or swapping out dairy for healthier plant-based alternatives. For those of you on the search for healthier food options but don’t have the time to spend four hours slaving in front of the stove, we’re here to help you.

We’ve rounded up the best ready-meals on the market that aren’t the terrible additives-ridden, stodgy gloops of yesteryear, but made with top quality ingredients. We’ve edited out our favourites, from nutritionally-packed plant-based options to microwave dishes you could pass off as your own at your next dinner party (post-covid of course).

Detox Kitchen

Determined to provide individuals with healthy, seasonal and delicious meals is Detox Kitchen. Perhaps one of the most sustainable and forward thinking online meal planners, Detox Kitchen works with you to develop a meal plan to suit your needs. All you’ll have to do is simply heat up the meals prepared by their trained chefs.  

The meals are primarily plant-based and are 100% dairy free, which is great for those looking to reduce their meat and fish consumption. They’re also 100% wheat free too and free from refined sugars. All in all, the meals are packed with incredibly nutritious ingredients and will help you maintain your health and wellness goals for 2021. 

Planty

For those tackling Veganuary this month, Planty will help elevate your meals to the max. Their ready meal program is really simple to use, all you need to do is choose either six-, eight- or ten- healthy plant-based meals and they’ll be delivered straight to your door with very little hassle. 

You’ll be able to pick and choose your favourite flavours, all of which have been crafted by nutritionists and chefs to create well balanced meals full of fresh veggies, proteins and fibres. Right now they have 20% off your first box too using the code GOPLANTs.

Balance Box

Designed with your individual goals and needs in mind, Balance Box is dedicated to helping you regain your balance. Their team of expert nutritionists and chefs will work with you to help you achieve your goals, all the while taking the hassle out of cooking. 

Each box is packed with everything you need for a healthy day of munching, and you can choose a plan to fit your dietary needs, so if you’re tackling Veganuary right now, it’s no problem. All of the meals and snacks are individually packaged and have simple instructions so you can enjoy your meal in no time.

KBK

This one’s more meal prep than ready-meal but KBK has always strived to be at the forefront of the clean eating movement since launching. They deliver meal plans that are freshly prepared and delivered straight to your door, taking the hassle away but without sacrificing on the fresh flavour. 

Choose from their different programmes, from get lean to a special Veganuary programme. They’ve even got one dedicated to the student, so if you’re  a parent and you’re worried your son/daughter isn’t getting enough goodness in their diet, it’s a perfect way to make sure they stay healthy while away from home. They’ve also got juice cleanse options for those looking to try that out too.

Kurami

If you thought ready-meals were made up of artificial flavourings, heaps of salt and bad fats, you haven’t met Kurami.

Launched in March 2020 by Camilla Pigozzi Garofalo, the easy midweek meals came at the perfect time for lockdowners unfamiliar with their kitchens and they will genuinely make you feel like you have an at-home A-list chef on your hands.

There USP is that not only do they look the vision of health – a rainbow of veggies and fresh produce – but the meals are curated to improve gut health and overall wellbeing.

The brand has formalted three- and five-day ‘meal paths’ that give you a fuss-free way to re-charge and re-balance your eating, but you can also buy the ready-meals individually. We rate the Rainbow Falafels and the Mexican Rice box. 

PEP Kitchen

Declutter your lockdown freezer and fill it with a plethora of plant-based, tasty meals ready-to-heat from PEP Kitchen.

Founded by chefs Joe Coulter & Ben MacAndrews who, after eight years working in restaurants and street food, have teamed up with the aim of inspiring people to eat more plant-based food without the fuss. Plus, they make single meals which takes the labour out of cooking for one.

Think Gunpowder Roasted Roots with Coconut Dhal, Szechuan Mapo Tofu and Jackfruit Massaman Curry, to name just a few of their delights. These colourful and balanced dishes will make you feel like you’re having a Friday night takeaway but with a pinch of nutrition too.

Environmentally-conscious as well, we were pleased to hear PEP only use 100% home compostable or recyclable packaging throughout the range.

PEP Kitchen meals start from £5.95.

Order online at pepkitchen.co.uk

Charlie Bigham’s

The Waitrose of ready-meals, these bad boys are your golden ticket to a no-fuss, midweek dinner (or cheat your way to dinner party, we won’t tell) that feels a bit posh.

Not so much on the healthy side but they’re too irresistible not to mention and are great for days when you need a little indulgence. We love their flakey pastry pies and their oozy lasagnas – just don’t count on them being anywhere near healthy.

Founded back in 1996 when the rest of ready-meals were pretty dire, Charlie’s have paved the way for oven-easys that use good quality ingredients and homely dishes you’d really like to cook but don’t have the time or the culinary prowess.

The brand was founded by a chap actually called Charlie and he still remains part of the brand, with a range that now expands the likes of British classics, Thai curries and Moroccan stews.

We can hanker a guess he puts on a mean dinner party, too.

Available to buy online and instore at Waitrose

Love Yourself

Merging the skill of Michelin-trained cooking with easy-to-make ready-meals and a bounty of nutritional value, Love Yourself offers a range of menus from gluten-free, dairy-free, halal, balanced, performance, keto and many more. So whatever your lifestyle, there’s something that will fit.

Plus, if you’re someone who likes to track their health and wellness on their phone, all of Love Yourself’s menus can sync with the MyFitness App, meaning you can keep on top of calories and maintaining your goals.

The dishes range from healthy chorizo-spiced, cheddar and coconut pizza to courgetti with soft ricotta, fresh peas and mint, plus breakfasts, lunch and snacks. They are all cooked and delivered daily, locally sourced and seasonal and can be heated up in the microwave. Simple.

Love Yourself offer a range of menus from £21 each day.

Buy online at LoveYourself.co.uk.

Fitness Fresh Food 

Bad at time management? Or, simply just don’t have the energy to cook up a storm after a long slog WFH? Forget slinging in a cheap ready-meal from your local superstore that’ll no doubt leave you feeling groggy and swap to Fresh Fitness Food, the personalised meal plan service helping you stay on track of your fitness goals. 

Fresh Fitness Food helps you take back control, no longer will you have to slave away in front of the stove because they’ll deliver meals right to your doorstep, all personalised to fit you and your tastes. Alongside this you’ll be assigned a dedicated nutritionist helping you to stay on track. It’s been designed with the busy Londoner in mind.

The Brook

Delivering award-winning plant-based dishes straight to your door is The Brook, the vegan restaurant quality delivery service. With both your health and the health of the planet at the forefront of the brand’s mind, these ready meals have been designed to bring you well balanced meals made with the freshest ingredients available. 

Choose from their hearty Black Bean Chilli or their mock Seafood Stew, that’s both healthy and warming. Our personal favourite meal is the Persian Khoresh, a nourishing dish made with split peas, turmeric and fresh pomegranate seeds.

Potage

Having first launched as a side project back in 2012 where founder Georgia Cummings built a website and started selling a different recipe a day while she was looking after her mum who’d broken her ankle, Potage has since become a hugely successful and wildly popular online delivery service. 

Using seasonal ingredients and supporting British farmers, Potage boasts over 16 seasonal recipes to choose from all of which are prepared by their in-house chefs and frozen to seal in the extra freshness, flavour and nutrients. Choose from the likes of Lasagne Al Forno; Beef Bourguignon; Classic Fish Pie; and Pork and Fennel Meatballs. Yum.

Vibrant Vegan

Lovingly made by their in-house chefs, Vibrant Vegan has become renowned for their nutritious frozen ready meals. Boxes can be built for single or duo use and users can pick and choose from Vibrant Vegan’s huge array of colourful dishes, from the Diavolo Spaghetti Seitan Balls to the Piri Piri Jambalaya, the Rainbow Quinoa and Falafels to the Beetiful Bourguignon. Or if you can’t decide, they have options for pre-selected boxes too, including a Chef’s Choice packed with the chef’s favourites.

COOK

Think of these as the Jamie Oliver of ready-meals – easy enough to make yourself but you probably can’t be bothered.

The frozen meal selection is said to be made for people who love to cook but deserve a night off and they are seriously delicious. The range is vast, from tarragon and lemon chicken to veggie pies and drunken noodles with king prawns.

They even do canapes perfect for big bashes, Christmas or your first post-lockdown dinner party.

AllPlants

East London foodie, writer and TV presenter Laura Jackson is already a fan of these, and when it comes to food we totally trust her judgement.

AllPlants prides itself on creating super tasty and 100% plant-based meals cooked by chefs and delivered straight to your door. Plus, each meal accounts for at least two of your five-a-day quota, meaning you know you’re getting the good stuff in.

Even if you aren’t a full time vegan, they are a great way to explore a more plant-based lifestyle and keep your health a little more in check.

Dishes range from the indulgent Mac + Greens to a rainbow-hued Burrito Bowl and a spicy Tempeh Rendang Curry.

Order for either one or two people with six meals at a time, from £40.50.

Order online at allplants.com

The Hill Food Company

The Hill Food Company usually create delicious catering menus for private events, but they obviously had to put that on hold during the COVID crisis. Instead, they’re delivering straight to your door, so be quick before the day job picks up again.

Their ready-to-reheat or freeze dinners will save you a shopping trip and last up to five days in the fridge or six months (if freezable) in the freezer.

Seriously tasty, seasonal, balanced and little need for washing up? We’re big fans.

Deliveries made on Thursdays and Fridays with a minimum order of £50.

Order online at thehillfoodcompany.com


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