Choosing a healthy premade meal

Choosing a healthy premade meal

Sometimes, even with great meal planning and preparation, you may need a quick meal option that’s not homemade. Maybe you forgot to take lunch to work and are thinking of grabbing a frozen meal from supermarket, or you need a healthier option when on the road. There is a large range of convenience choices now available as frozen meals, ready-made cold options and meal kit delivery services.

Many readymade meals contain more saturated fat, salt, sugar and energy (kJ) compared with home cooked meals. With some nutrition know-how, it is possible to make a healthy choice and get a meal on the table in a short space of time.

Keep these things in mind if you plan to use premade meals throughout the challenge or in general:

  • Supermarket style frozen meals or those in the cold section are typically high in salt and low in protein.
  • They often don’t contain much vegetable content so you may need to add additional vegetables to boost the nutrition and make it more filling (frozen veg is a great quick option).
  • Look at the ingredients list to get an understanding of how processed they are based on the number and types of ingredients.
  • If a meal has an ingredient listed in the title, then the percentage of that ingredient needs to be identified in the ingredients list. So, a Chicken and Mushroom Risotto must say how much chicken is in the final dish. You can use this information to help you decide whether the product is a healthy choice.
  • On the nutrition label, use the per 100g column to compare the protein, carbohydrate, sodium and fibre of different meals to compare the nutrition

As a guide a meal that has a similar nutrition profile will be suitable for the challenge and as satisfying meal:

  • Protein 20-30g or more per meal
  • Carbohydrates 40g or less
  • Energy around 400 calories
  • Fibre at least 6g
  • Sodium less than 400mg per 100g

Meal kits where you prepare the food at home (like Hello Fresh) are often carbohydrate heavy. Rice, pasta and potatoes are cheap ingredients use to fill the meals. So, keep an eye on the portion size of carbohydrates and look for ways to boost the number of non-starchy vegetables in the meal – steam additional vegetables, add spinach to wilt down in sauces, go half cauliflower rice to regular rice.

Product Suggestions

Supermarket frozen meals

  • Fitness Outcomes - Sriracha Chicken
  • Fitness Outcomes - Chilli Con Carne
  • Strength Meals Co - Lemon Pepper Chicken
  • Strength Meal Co - Braised Beef Ragu
  • Earth – Meatless Cottage Pie
  • Super Nature – Super Pulses Wholemeal Sicilian Tuna Bake
  • Super Nature – Wellness Bowl Sri Lankan Curry

Supermarket shelf stable options

  • Sirena Tuna and Beans Range
  • Edgell Bean Salad Range
  • Amy’s kitchen organice lentil soup
  • Heinz Plant Protein Mexican Black Bean Soup
  • Celebrate Health Tuscan Style Italian Beans and Tomato

Cold Chilled meals

  • Youfoodz – Loaded Mexican Chicken
  • Youfoodz – Honey Mustard Chicken with Garlic Vegetables
  • My Muscle Chef - Chicken & Chimichurri Mayo with Pumpkin Mash & Green Beans

 Author 

Liz Borgo - Dietitian and Nutritionist

IG : @lizthedietitian