In the second blog of this series, I am celebrating the brands and small businesses working in hospitality and the catering business that deliver ready meals to your door. All the food comes pre-prepared in boxes and only need a few minutes in the oven or microwave to finish off or heat up. Not fans of the greasy takeaways around our neck of the woods, these ready meals delivered straight to our door were a boon during lockdown times!
HEALTHY READY MEALS
I was on a mission to lose some weight before lockdown ended. I religiously used the My Fitness Pal app to log my calorie intake and calories burned. However, it was a tedious task logging every meal, especially when you are trying to calculate the calories of every ingredient in a homemade dish. Which is why I was excited to learn about Love Yourself HQ, who are a healthy daily meal delivery service. You give them your calorie count and diet choice. Based on your requirements, their professional chefs cook these meals fresh and deliver every evening between 7pm and 10pm to be enjoyed for the next day. You can then log your meal directly into your fitness app by scanning the bar code on the front of the packaging. There were a variety of delicious and calorie-controlled diets available, such as balanced, gluten-free, keto, vegetarian and halal to suit everyone’s dietary preferences. The food performed well not just on the health front but on the taste front too. Everything also came in recyclable packaging, which is a big plus for me. It’s definitely a hassle-free way to maintain a healthy lifestyle when you are trying to watch what you eat.
Another healthy food delivery brand that works on daily calorie count, Balance Box use fresh, ethically sourced produce and the quality and taste really stands out! I would definitely recommend these guys from the line of healthy food delivery options I have tried recently. If you think healthy can’t be tasty at the same time, these guys will change your mind. From the above two, I preferred Balance Box simply because of the fact that whilst both offered a similar kind of service, the menu of Balance Box was a bit more innovative, interesting and delicious.
People who know me know I am not the biggest fan of pizza (shocking, I know). However, lockdown had me craving pizza like never before. Pizza from Fireaway was indeed the carb therapy I was hankering for during lockdown days! The pizzas on the whole were really good. Care and attention had definitely gone into the making of these pizzas, as they were not too doughy or greasy. Fireaway have many branches across London and the rest of the UK so do check if you have one in your vicinity or order via Deliveroo, Uber Eats or Just Eat.
‘EATING OUT’ AT HOME
Since Coronavirus clipped our travel wings, we have been exploring the world through food. I was delighted to receive a selection of curries and curry puffs (made from a secret recipe!) from Old Chang Kee, who are a Singaporean street food eatery in Central London. During lockdown, they delivered frozen curries alongside their signature curry puffs to London and beyond. All their meat is halal and they also have vegetarian/vegan/gluten-free/dairy-free options available in their puffs and curries. The sumptuous curries were bang on in terms of deliciousness and flavour, with varying degrees of heat. The curry puffs were spicy and moreish; great as a teatime snack on a rainy day with a hot cup of tea! The soft, buttery pastry was tasty and did not feel too heavy on the palate. It was lovely to try a cuisine at home that I would normally only eat when I am in a restaurant or travelling.
Not going out also meant that we couldn’t explore our favourite food markets and food trucks… until Charred came to our rescue! We ordered the 14-hour smoked brisket from Charred after hearing rave reviews and it exceeded expectations! The meat was glorious; absolutely melt-in-the-mouth with the right kind of smoke and richness. It was absolutely gorgeous and we were sad when it was gone. They also do kits to make your own brisket flatbreads and all their pickles, chutneys and sauces are made in-house. But really it was the meat that had our hearts and bellies screaming with joy.
INDIAN READY MEALS
One of the first ready meals offering we tried, even before lockdown was initiated, was Dining Eating. It is a halal home-cooked frozen ready meal service aimed at busy professionals and students who crave homespun food but are either living too far away from home or are too busy to cook every day. The food is freshly cooked and frozen and then delivered to your doorstep; you can then heat them in a microwave and eat straight away or defrost and heat on the hob. Founder and home-cook Shaheena told us about the inspiration behind her different meals, which is a mixture of recipes handed down by her mum, friends, her own travels and food she likes to eat after a busy day at work. Currently an expanding business, you can choose from a selection of recipes inspired from Indian, Mexican, Italian, Thai and Chinese cuisines. All the food is halal, free of preservatives and additives and they deliver all over the UK. We sampled the Lamb Biryani, Chicken Fajitas and Chilli Paneer from the menu. The food was really tasty and homely with a moderate spice level. The prices are reasonable starting from £3.50 per portion and judging by the portion size they are good value for money too. I was impressed that the defrosting process did not alter the flavours or textures of the dishes; very important for dishes like a Biryani.
This is definitely for couples like us who have a busy social life. I for one hate cooking but crave home food and found this a more convenient way to have hot home-cooked food at the touch of a button at the end of a busy day.
I was recently gifted a delicious care package from Tuk In. They are a small business formed about five years ago, with the aim of providing an alternative to the plain old sandwich by putting curry in a naan bread and sealing it. They have also recently developed a range of Indian ready meals and sides to sell online. Made fresh to order, their products are delivered next day, in 100% recyclable chilled packaging which you can also freeze. They deliver all over the UK and it’s free delivery on orders over £25. My favourite from the selection was their Curry-in-a-Naan and the samosas. They had the perfect balance of spice, filling and dough. Paired with a fresh green salad, they made the perfect light lunch; far better than the cold, boring supermarket sandwiches I am used to. From the curries, most were medium to light spiced which made them perfect for day meals too. We loved their simple Naan bread; it was perfect to mop up all the sauces or gently warmed with a little bit of butter. Everything is either microwaveable or needs a few minutes in the oven to heat and serve. These boxes in general are perfect for busy professionals like us, for working-from-home lunches or after a busy day at work when you cannot be bothered to cook. So if you are looking for a curry-in-a-hurry, swap that unhealthy takeaway for a bit of Tuk In.
DATE NIGHT AT HOME
Whilst we were cooking everyday during lockdown, every once in a while, it was nice to throw away the oven gloves, put on a nice dress (in my case anyway) and have a date night at home! We won a delicious fine dine-in supper for two from Archies Food. They are a catering and events company that also do gourmet food deliveries to your home. Included in our prize were three courses of deliciousness and house cocktails for two. All I had to do was pour the cocktails into chilled glasses, finish the main in the oven, plate up and serve. On the menu were dishes such as Jamon and Manchego Croquetas with Black Garlic Mayo, Roasted Monkfish and Chocolate Mousse Dome. Bottled cocktails included a Blueberry and Elderflower Rocks (Portobello Road Gin with pressed lemon, cloudy apple juice, wild blueberry jam and elderflower cordial). It was nice to step away from all the daily stresses and enjoy a lovely, relaxing, romantic couples night in!
Check out my next post on Tasty Treats that uplifted our mood during lockdown…
N.B. Some of the above products were gifted to me but I am under no obligation to post or write a blog about them.