Our top 9 ready-to-eat meals
Family life can get very busy, which means creating homemade meals for the whole family is tricky, especially if they all arrive home at different hours of the day and night.
While it can be easy to keep single serves of leftovers in the freezer and create quick meals out of baked beans and scrambled eggs, the best alternative to fatty, salty takeaways is often frozen and fresh ready-to-eat meals.
Forget about gluggy rice and pasta dishes with suspicious looking serves of meat and veg – nowadays the variety, freshness and taste of ready-to-eat meals has surged ahead to become a real alternative for fuss-free family dinners.
Plus, with our top 9, kids are upping their serves of the five food groups they need to eat from every day.
How do you choose a ready-to-eat meal at the supermarket?
To make it easier for you to make better choices, Healthy Kids has had a look at the ready-to-eat meals available in major supermarkets. This means that we haven’t looked at every single frozen and fresh meal available throughout Australia, just the ones we can easily lay our hands on in metro and regional areas.
What did we look for?
Because most kids are not eating nearly enough veggies, and to celebrate 2016 as the International Year of the Pulse, we selected meals that contained a range of vegetables AND legumes, such as kidney beans. Most also contained whole grain cereals such as brown rice.
We assessed each ready-to-eat meal against our Better Choice nutrient criteria. This means they each contain:
- at least 1 serve of vegetables, including some legumes (more than 30% when you add them up on the ingredients list);
- a good amount of protein (more than 4g/100g);
- 900kJ per 100g or less; and
- less than or equal to 2g/100g of saturated fat.
We haven’t listed products where the percentage of veg wasn’t on the label, and we also haven’t listed products that, as far as we could see, contained wine or sherry (this is a child-focused blog, after all).
The top 9 ready-to-eat meals
- Michelle Bridges Delicious Nutritious Moroccan Style Chickpea Tagine
The tagine contains three serves of veggies, some legumes and has a Health Star Rating of 4.5.
- Michelle Bridges Delicious Nutritious Salmon Fish Cakes
With three serves of veg, a cannellini mash and a Health Star Rating of 4, this is a top choice.
- Michelle Bridges Delicious Nutritious Spicy Chimichurri Beef & Vegetables
Again, a good three serves of veggies and some legumes makes for a tasty dish (Health Star Rating of 4.5).
- Lean Cuisine Pots of Goodness Spanish Chicken
This chicken dish has a Health Star Rating of 4.5 plus 2½ serves of veg and some legumes.
- Lean Cuisine Pots of Goodness Indian Tandoori Chicken
A Health Star Rating of 4, 2½ serves of veg plus some legumes makes this meal an instant crowd pleaser.
- Lean Cuisine Pots of Goodness Mexican Chicken Chipotle
Mexican lovers are winners with this chicken chipotle dish, flavoured with 2½ serves of veggies. It has a Health Star Rating of 4.
- Lean Cuisine Steam Chicken Chick Pea Curry with Brown Rice and Quinoa
- Lean Cuisine Steam Moroccan Chicken with Couscous and Lentils
- Lean Cuisine Steam Mexican Chicken with Brown Rice and Quinoa
Number 7, 8 and 9 all contain some legumes, at least 2 serves of veg and have a Health Star Rating of 4.