The idea of the “ready meal” or “TV dinner” is almost instantly off putting to many people, whether they are trying to lose weight or not. Thoughts range from “soggy potato” to “a meal designed for convenience and sitting in front of the TV can’t be healthy”, which might seem to be fair comments – but they aren’t.
Actually, the “soggy potato” one does sometimes have some truth to it…but that’s not my point!
Sticking to a diet can be difficult, and estimating the amount of calories/fat/carbs/protein/whatever in a meal is often horrendously complicated. Best thing about a ready meal? All this info is PRINTED ON THE PACKET!
And there’s some tasty stuff out there too. Sweet and sour chicken with rice, sausages and mashed potato, chilli with wedges, chicken curry, pasta, the list goes on. Weight Watchers even have their own range – but here’s a couple of tips for you:
- Weight Watchers aren’t the only reduced calorie/fat ready meal makers – stores often have their own brand of “low”-type dinners
- Read the pack. Sometimes (not always, mind) the regular dinners have less calories than the alleged low fat ones!
- Really read the pack. Calories are some times listed as “half a pack contains”, so don’t forget to double it if you are eating the whole thing.
The convenience factor works in two ways here. One is that the contents are clearly marked and this makes tracking a breeze. The second way is that you throw the pack in the microwave or conventional oven, leave it a while, and then eat it (often straight from the pack which saves on washing up!).
So, soggy potato. Simple fix – use the oven cooking option rather than the microwave. Cooking your ready meal as per the instructions on the box for a conventional oven results in crispy potato where it is required, eg potato wedges. Virtually everything else comes out fine in the microwave. Takes a little longer in the oven, but I’m going to assume you aren’t going to sit watching it – if you are bored, do some exercise!
And if you are watching your sodium intake, this is also normally clearly listed on the box – check this before sprinkling your dinner with salt. Which you shouldn’t do until you’ve tasted it anyway…