The best ready meals and recipe boxes

When life happens, the benefits of ready meals and the home delivered recipe boxes make themselves known. Whether it’s ill-health or a new baby, there are moments when time and energy are in short-supply, and a convenient meal you can pop straight in the oven is a god-send. There is much to be said for having tasty, nutritious food in your freezer, as you never know when you might need it.

We’ve tried and tested these 5 offerings and all pass the test of decent portion sizes, full on flavour, and easy preparation. So if you’re sick as a dog, or just stuck indoors and unable to pop to the shops, it’s still possible to eat healthily without the need for Deliveroo each night.

The best ready meals and recipe boxes

Are ready meals bad for you?

Whilst many mass-produced ready meals contain processed ingredients and excess saturated fats and salts which are best avoided, there are many new companies offering homemade meals that are balanced and healthy. All those listed here offer nutritional information and calories come in in line with most recipes on our website.

How long can you keep ready meals in the freezer?

Frozen ready can be kept for up to 3 months, with some meals able to be kept frozen for up to 6 months. It’s always best to check the label on the particular meal though, as some ingredients such as meat or fish can spoil sooner.

Our pick of the best

The best for the environment-conscious: FieldGoods

The offering from sustainably-focused FieldGoods is ready-meals that are made with local, free-range meat and ingredients from suppliers they know and trust. Packaging (both trays and films) is made from plant-based materials, and can be put in the compost or recycled. So how’s the food then? We were particularly taken with the cauliflower butter masala (which has Great Taste award), and packs a fenugreek punch, while the apple and blackberry crumble was well balanced and not-too-sweet. The prices rival some of the top ready-meal brands and we think FieldGoods are a welcome addition to the market. Available from FieldGoods (from £7.25 a portion).


The best for the experimental: Mindful Chef

The Mindful Chef recipe boxes are among our favourite because they offer healthy, new ideas for dinners and don’t take hours to put together. The company sell both recipe boxes and frozen ready meals, smoothies and desserts, so you can pick and choose. We loved the butternut squash and sprout curry with black rice, and were particularly impressed by the quality of the vegetables. Available from Mindful Chef (from £5.50 per meal).

Mindful Chef

The best for Indian food-lovers:Vivek Singh’s Cinnamon Kitchen range

The new range from esteemed chef Vivek Singh is a stellar offering of curries, rice, and grilled meats that have one excellently simple attribute in common: all need to be reheated in an over for exactly 20 minutes. The quality of these ready meals is unlike any microwave curry you’ll have tired, the flavours are fresh, bold, and reminiscent of many curry house takeaways available up and down the country. The saag aloo (with appealingly strong hints of fenugreek) and lamb rogan josh are stand ours for us, and the creamy cauiflower makhani is made with cauli that still retains its texture and bite, which is a reassuringly rare thing in the ready-meal game. Three of four dishes will set you back just south of £20 and feed 2-4 people, and for half the price of a takeaway, what more can you ask for? Available from Tesco, from £3 per dish.

Cinnamon Kitchen

The best for fussy eaters: StockedFood

Batch cooking done for you? Portioned into cubes AND delivered frozen to your door? That’s exactly what StockedFood offer, with super-versatile and excellent recipes, from jerk chicken to plant-based hearty ragù. While most people would enjoy the meals (and they have a handful of Great Taste Awards too), we think this idea is particularly suited to two groups of people: those with very busy lifestyles and those with household members who have different tastes, making cooking tricky. All you need to do is provide a base, say, rice, couscous, or pasta – then heat up your choice of cubes, for completely different meals in yes, minutes. Is there a downside? It’s not the cheapest way to buy food, unless you eke out the portions very well. But these would also make a great gift, as Stocked put it “Save a loved one from their rubbish mealtimes. No more bland ready meals or overpriced takeaways.” Available from StockedFood, with various subscription and delivery options, from £38 for 16 meals.

StockedFood meals

The best for the travel lover: Cookaway

There’s a globetrotting theme to recipe boxes offered by The Cookaway, with Japanese, Spanish, Indian and Italian among the meals on offer. Each is overseen by a cook who’s an expert in that particular cuisine, with live online hosting on certain dates (otherwise you can use their recipe cards, if you’re not feeling well enough for an online event). For the Malaysian Night Market Experience box we tried, Ping Coombes, the recently crowned MasterChef ‘champion of champions’, was the enthusiastic host. The highlights were pork and prawn dumplings, and a chicken wing recipe from Ping’s esteemed mum.


The best on the high street: COOK

You might have spotted a COOK shop on your local high street, as they have many branches now sprawled out across the UK. Specialising in high quality home-cooked meals, packaged and frozen for a longer shelf-life, COOK meals are always of an exceedingly good standard. Order meal boxes for any quantity: one person or for large groups and choose from a range of dietary requirements, from gluten free to vegan. They also cater for kids. We recently tried out their honey-glazed duck with an orange & madeira jus as well as their slow-cooked osso bucco and were blown away by the restaurant-standard quality in frozen form.

In the mood to plan ahead? Batch cook away to your heart’s content with our best freezable recipes.

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