Preparing a healthy meal doesn’t have to take a long time – Joe Wicks’s Lean In 15 series is proof of that. However, at the end of a long day, even 15 minutes of food preparation can seem like more effort than you can muster up – especially when food delivery apps require a couple of clicks.
It’s not that a takeaway now and then is necessarily a problem, but if you find you’re relying on a delivery most nights, it’s probably time to improve your diet – and you can do so with minimal effort thanks to ready meals. Not just any old ready meal because some have hair-raising levels of salt, sugar and saturated fats, but as long as you go for one that has slashed the numbers on those three unhealthy characters while keeping the calories down, you’ll be golden.
Like takeaways, we wouldn’t recommend living on them, but they’re certainly better than another pizza turning up on your doorstep. Here are eight to look out for the next time you’re dragging your work-weary carcass around your local supermarket.
Bol Thai Coconut Curry
Our go-to option in a dinner pinch, simply because Bol Pots are often available in even the smallest inner-city supermarkets and everything in the range is basically a load of vegetables in a tasty sauce – an approach that’s so healthy the traffic light system shows green across the board. Each pot packs in at least a couple of your five-a-day, and they’re low in fat, salt, sugar and calories – the Thai Coconut Curry contains only 307 calories, for example. The only downside is they can be a little too small to satisfy bigger appetites, but a couple of wholemeal pittas on the side will sort that.
Buy from Tesco | £3
Wicked Kitchen Nana’s Mushroom Bolognese
Nana clearly knew what she was doing when she fine-tuned the recipe for this delicious bolognese, making king oyster mushrooms the star ingredient in the sauce. The salt content is a touch high at 1.9g per 374g serving, but everything else ticks the boxes for a healthy dinner. There’s 11.4g of fat, but only 1.4g of that is saturated fat, and there are only 427 calories in a serving. Best of all, there’s a chunky 10.8g of fibre, over a third of your recommended daily intake of 30g.
Buy from Tesco | £3.50
Waitrose LoveLife Calorie Controlled Chicken Tikka Masala With Pilau Rice
Tuck into a tikka safe in the knowledge you’re not blowing your calorie count for the day. While a typical tikka masala contains 50g of fat and 800 calories, this LoveLife masala is just 445 calories, low in sugar and fat, and packs in 31g of protein – ideal for the gym-goers looking for a quick treat. The salt levels aren’t bad, but they also aren’t good, so keep an eye on what else you’re eating that day.
Buy from Waitrose | £3.50
Kirsty’s Lentil Cottage Pie
The ingredient list on the back of this pack makes for easy reading: lentils, potatoes and loadsa veg. This vegan option packs in 10.4g of protein (let’s hear it for lentils!) and clocks in at just 272 calories so you could even consider doubling up. Although after seeing the salt content is 1.72g per pack, maybe stick to just one – you shouldn’t go over 6g of salt in a day.
Buy from Waitrose | £3
Tesco Beef Lasagne
When putting together this list we’ve relied heavily on the traffic light system on the packaging, making sure the fat, saturates, sugar and salt content are rated mostly green and there’s no red. This meal is green across the board with just 8.9g of fats, 3.9g of saturates, 10.1g of sugar, 1g of salt and just 356 calories. It’s also incredibly cheap at £2.50.
Buy from Tesco | £2.50
Sainsbury’s Be Good To Yourself Chilli Con Carne
If your Sunday plans to batch-cook enough chilli con carne to last the month went to pot, this is a great plan B. There’s 8.4g of fat, a decent 25g of protein and 11.1g of sugar even though molasses are used to add some depth of flavour. The salt levels are OK at 1.31g, but let’s face it, if you had made that chilli you’d eat way more than the 392 calories here.
Buy from Sainsbury’s | £2
LoveLife Butternut Squash Risotto
If you stay away from risotto at home because you can’t be doing with the long and constant stirring process, here’s a microwavable version. What’s more, this LoveLife concoction from Waitrose contains a welcome 6.9g of fibre.
Buy from Waitrose | £3.99
Tesco Salmon With Broccoli And Green Beans
Salmon is well worth putting on your plate thanks to its omega 3 content and high B vitamin count. On top of that, this ready meal clocks in at just 297 calories and a mere 2.9g of saturated fat, making it quite the catch.
Buy from Tesco | £3