Our Top 3 Picks for Ready-Made Meals

Ready-made meals are a fantastic solution for those times when you’re in a pinch. Thankfully, ready-made meals are becoming more accessible with a wide-variety of companies now providing viable options. Today’s article is a brief overview of three ready-made meal services that we’ve used and some of our favourite options with their nutrition information. Jake will cover his top three MyMuscleChef meals, Rachael talks about her experience with Vic’s Gourmet Gains, and Harry shares his favourite YouFoodz meals to grab from the local service station when he’s forgotten to pack his lunch!

MyMuscleChef

MyMuscleChef is a relatively well known meal delivery company that started as a small business in 2013. Fast forward to 2023 you won’t have to look far before seeing one of their ads on your TV!

MyMuscleChef’s purpose is to offer intelligent and versatile nutrition options that help people feel their best. Their goal is to match high-quality meals with great taste and accessibility. This allows customers to more conveniently achieve their health and fitness goals. They’ve recently developed a plant-based range, moved towards fresh over frozen products, and a new low-calorie range on top of their already impressive 70 high-protein meals.

I tend to personally meal prep most of my meals however with my work-life balance, and the schedule of my better half Mel, who is a nurse, very often we find ourselves in a pinch needing a convenient, high-protein meal for dinner or otherwise. We don’t mind the occasional takeout, but I find having MyMuscleChef Meals on hand is a great strategy to help me stick to my goals. 

Here are my top three meals:

Crumbed Chicken with Roasted Potatoes

  • Calories: 554kcal 
  • Carbohydrates: 49g
  • Fat: 19g
  • Protein: 44g

Beef Stroganoff with Spinach Fettuccine

  • Calories: 487kcal 
  • Carbohydrates: 31g
  • Fat: 12g
  • Protein: 62g

Chipotle Chicken Burrito Bowl

  • Calories: 704kcal 
  • Carbohydrates: 62g
  • Fat: 21g
  • Protein: 65g

Vic’s Gourmet Gains

Vic’s Gourmet Gains is a small business, owned and operated by an incredible cook, Victoria. With all of her meals being high in protein, it’s obvious that gym-goers are Vic’s target market and main consumer.

The upside of ordering from a small business like this is that the ready-made meals are made fresh and delivered on the same day. Vic will also go above and beyond if you require any customisations to your meals. The downside is that you need to order via Instagram Direct Message, and I am renowned for forgetting to submit my order by her Thursday 12pm cut-off and often get hit with a “Hey Rach, do you need any meals this week?” message.

Many of you might know that I don’t cook on weeknights due to the nature of my work and schedule, and have tried most meal prep companies on the market. In my opinion, Vic’s Gourmet Gains beats them all in terms of taste and freshness. My husband agrees as well, and often jokes about how lucky Victoria’s partner is!

Here are three meals that you would often find in my fridge at home:

Turkey Kofta

  • Calories: 488kcal 
  • Carbohydrates: 50g
  • Fat: 8g
  • Protein: 54g

Tandoori Chicken

  • Calories: 523kcal 
  • Carbohydrates: 61g
  • Fat: 7g
  • Protein: 51g

Butter Chicken

  • Calories: 556kcal 
  • Carbohydrates: 54g
  • Fat: 16g
  • Protein: 43g

Youfoodz

Youfoodz is a popular ready-made meal subscription service in that offers delivery, but also sells meals at local shops. They prioritise fresh, nutritionally-balanced meals with flexible meal plan sizes designed to suit your lifestyle. 

The company was founded in 2012 by Lance Giles and is headquartered in Brisbane, Queensland. YouFoodz offers a variety of fresh, healthy and convenient meals that can be ordered online and delivered to customer’s doors. They cater to a range of dietary requirements, including vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free, and low-carb options.

The Youfoodz basic range has a slightly lower protein content compared to other ready made meal services. However, this doesn’t always have to be the focus as it is a function of your overall diet. Other qualities such as taste and affordability are equally important. Moreover, just like training fatigue we can also get something called taste fatigue. This is a result of constantly eating the same foods. If we are always choosing the same meals for the purpose of high-protein counts, we are missing the bigger picture. Choosing meals from a wider range of choices whilst being attentive to the overall details of the diet at large can improve adherence and enjoyment.

These are my go-to meals that I grab when I’ve forgotten my lunch:

Creamy Parmesan Chicken with Peas & Cauliflower

  • Calories: 275kcal
  • Carbohydrates: 18.7g
  • Fat: 8.5g
  • Protein: 27.6g

Peri Peri Chicken with Spicy Mayo & Potatoes

  • Calories: 495kcal 
  • Carbohydrates: 19.6g
  • Fat: 33.9g
  • Protein: 26g

Slow-Cooked Tuscan Pork with Loaded Mash

  • Calories: 395kcal 
  • Carbohydrates: 27.6g
  • Fat: 19.7g
  • Protein: 24.9g

Picking what’s right for you

Inevitably, your health and fitness journey will involve some trial and error. When it comes to making health promoting nutrition decisions you have plenty of choice. Factors such as cost, convenience, accessibility and importantly, taste, all play a role and how consistent you will be. Ready-made meals are a great option to have stored in your freezer in case you find yourself short on time, and it’s something that we recommend to our clients if they’re struggling with consistency. Ultimately, consistency will dictate your success. If you need help developing consistent health-promoting habits, feel free to reach out to us here.

Top Tips to Grocery Shop Smart

On your quest to become a healthier you, the weekly grocery shop is a necessary task that can be difficult to surmount. When you have to account for your family and yourself, it becomes even more complex. As you might have experienced, we all struggle with willpower to make health-promoting decisions at the best of times. Convenience, cognitive load and time management are all influencing factors. As the saying goes “fail to prepare and prepare to fail”. In today’s article we will provide our top tips to help you prepare better and simplify decision making.

Shopping for Substitutions

Substitutions refer to swapping out one choice for another. Rarely do we recommend a complete dietary overhaul. This is not only unwise and unnecessary, but simply stressful! Instead, some simple substitutions could go a long way in managing total energy intake. Secondly, substitutions can improve nutrition quality and increase overall satisfaction. A few simple places to start simply involve picking a lower calories version of the same food. This can include skim or light milk, 95% lean mince, cooking oils, pasta variations (as shown below) and sugar free sweetened beverages. Next time you’re on your grocery shop, look for some substitutions – you might be pleasantly surprised!

You can also look at swapping out foods accessible in your food environment. That is, if you were to leave a bowl of chocolates on your desk at work, would you be more likely to eat it? What if you were to swap out that bowl of chocolate for a bowl of fruit? How could that impact your health?

Shopping for Back-Ups

Not everything goes to plan. I’m sure this is something you’ve experienced before. Life is messy, and in your pursuit of a healthier and fitter you, your best laid plans won’t always stick. Substitution is a strategy for everyday however back-ups refer to strategies left in reserve. The most common example is frozen or chilled meals ready for when you don’t have time to prepare meals such as dinner.

We’ve also got in our companion article this month our favourite ready-made meals from three different companies. Be sure to check it out here. Back-ups can also include knowing your food environment and options beyond just the home. For instance, we recommend getting to know your local area and *healthier* takeaway options alongside access to ready made meals.

One example immediately springs to mind. I’m not ashamed to admit it, I do occasionally indulge in McDonald’s. One great back-up option Rachael put me onto is the Grilled Chicken Wrap. It’s not perfect by any choice but, for the convenience of being on the road, 447 cals and 27.8g protein at $8.20, there are worse options if you’re in a pinch. Honourable mentions include the wide variety of ready-made meals now available at petrol stations (such as YouFoodz or MyMuscleChef) and secondly, Nando’s is a fantastic choice when eating out – it’s hard to pass up the Peri-Peri Chicken Tenders and Broccolini!

Shopping Savvy

I don’t think I’m the only person here guilty of opening up the vegetable drawer in the fridge and finding a sad excuse for lettuce wilted in the corner. Not only does the guilt of letting food go to waste hit me, but additionally, the waste of cost and resources. Thankfully, you don’t have to buy fresh food to eat healthy. Although I understand taste may be compromised, buying frozen or canned produce is a completely viable strategy for limiting waste and still achieving your health and fitness goals. As an aside, frozen and tinned foods aren’t subject to seasonal fluctuations in price or availability and as a bonus, usually lower in cost.

Having the right appliances at home, albeit a luxury, means you can limit the time spent on meal prep and help you when you’re short on time, adhere to your health and fitness goals. Air fryers are a fantastic tool. By circulating incredibly hot air they can be used to prepare food in a short period of time without using large amounts of oil or the need to deep fry certain foods. 

An example of a convenient meal that comes to mind that uses frozen foods, limited prep time and is reasonably healthy can be creating air fried and seasoned frozen broccoli florets, potato chips and a fresh lean protein source. You can find all of these ingredients in the frozen section on your next grocery shop!

Set yourself up for success

The weekly grocery shop can be a stumbling block or a chance to step-up to success. Intelligent use of substitutions, back-ups, resource management and appliance use can make achieving your health and fitness goals magnitudes easier. As previously alluded to convenience, *cognitive load* and time management are all influencing factors when making health-promoting decisions. We hope the ideas in our article today provide you with the tools you require to succeed. It’s clear how nutrition can be more flexible and adaptable. Don’t get stuck thinking only freshly made, organic-only, gourmet meals that are cost intensive are “healthy.” If you’re looking for more practical nutrition guidance, you can contact the team at Ivy Training here.