My original plan when I heard that Men’s Health magazine had branched out into the ready meal industry was to get a guest blog from The Boyfriend. I figured he could nom his way through a couple and then write up a post while I sat in the garden painting my toenails or something. But no…..The Boyfriend is not a fan of food that goes ping and so when the delivery arrived he looked at it with much trepidation and starting chopping a carrot. More fool him as I decided to take over the testing task and I can safely tell you, they’re pretty good.
The range is actually called Men’s Health Kitchen, and while I’m pretty sure it wasn’t created by the same team of journalists that create the mag every month, it’s designed to tap into its ethos. I like to think of it as ‘let’s try and boost the chance of you looking like one of our cover men even if you can’t be faffed to roast your own chicken and live off whey protein and boiled eggs.’ The nine meals each contain at least one of your five a day, and are high in protein, high in fibre and low in fat, sugar, salt and oil. When I heard about them I assumed they’re be mega huge and about 700 calories a portion – so I was surprised to see that they hover around 350-450.
I’ve been eating them for lunch (the joy of working from home) and they are actually pretty good. Some of the portions are a bit big even for me – and I eat a lot – and I admit, the idea of having carbs like rice or noodles for lunch is a bit of a mind shift as normally I just have salad, but they’re definitely filling. I started off with the Chicken Tagine and Chickpeas with Bulgar Wheat (that’s it pictured above) – that one was a bit sweet for me as it has apricot in the sauce but it was pretty tasty with a shot of hot sauce. I then went to the Pulled Chilli Beef, one of the meals they think will be a top seller. I can see why – huge chunks of meat, lots of okra and peppers and it was really good – but this was one where the portion size did defeat me, I got about 3/4 through. A few other meals later and I discovered my favourite – the 349 calorie Chicken Tikka Breast with Aubergine and Lentil Dahl. I reckon this contains about 150 fewer calories than my normal lunchtime salad (by the time I’ve added avocado and dressing to make it less than boring) but it was infinitely more satisfying – I still wasn’t hungry at 5.30 and I eat at noon!.
The only thing I did find is that I did have to add salt to them all – don’t all yell at once, my blood pressure is not only completely healthy, it’s on the low side, and unless that changes I’m still eating salt! I also had to bump up the chilli a bit on some of the ‘spicy’ sounding dishes to match what my head thought it would be getting or to counteract the sweetness of meals where they’ve used some fruit. Generally, though I think they’re really, really good – whether you’re a man or not! My only criticism is that because they were so filling I didn’t add any extra salad or vegetables to go with them which meant my veggie intake decreased on the days I ate them.
The range is available now in all major UK supermarkets and the meals cost £3.00 each. Let me know what you think if you try one.
NB: As yet I do not seem to have magically developed a six pack or arm tone akin to Hugh Jackman. This is a tad disappointing.