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What to look for in the best microwave ready meals

Added 412 days ago. 04 December 2017

Microwave meals can be a great way to make hot, tasty food ready in no time.

They’re quick and easy to prepare, and perfect for when you’re tired or don’t feel like cooking.

However, there are lots of myths and misinformation about ready meals, and many people think they’re unhealthy and bad for you. It’s certainly true that some ready meals, often cheaper supermarket ones, can contain high levels of added salt and sugar and can be unnecessarily high in calories.

But the good news is that you can also buy healthier, more nutritious ready meals full of goodness and great ingredients, with low levels of saturated fat, salt and added sugar, that can help keep you on track with your healthy eating plan. We’ve put together a guide to help you find best quality microwave meals – here’s what to look out for.

Provenance

Understanding where our food has come from is important, and it applies to ready meals too. Does the company tell you where its meals are made and prepared? If not, this can be a warning sign about the quality.

You should also check for information about where the ingredients and meat are from. Look out for meals using sustainable, ethically sourced produce including British and Irish beef and sustainably caught fish.

Read more about our commitment to quality ingredients here.

No artificial ingredients

Good ready meals should not contain food additives like artificial flavours and colours. Check that the food is free from ingredients like Hydrogenated Vegetable Oils and Genetically Modified Organisms too.

Sides and vegetables

Some microwave ready meals don’t come as a full meal, meaning you’ll be left cooking your sides and vegetables separately. For best value, choose a product that contains everything you need to make a meal.

If vegetables aren’t included, many of us will end up skipping them and then we can lose out on important nutrients like vitamins, minerals and fibre. And the meal may not feel as filling, leaving us reaching for snacks later.

The best microwave meals will usually contain at least one of your five a day – this should be marked on the packaging or in the description.

Frozen or chilled

Many people think that fresh food is better than frozen, but in fact the two are equally nutritious. Studies comparing frozen and fresh vegetables found no difference in nutritional content, meaning frozen is just as good for you. Plus chilled ready meals often contain higher levels of added salt or preservatives to try and extend their shelf-life.

The best frozen meals should be frozen immediately after preparation to lock in the nutrients. Make sure they are kept frozen until you’re ready to eat them to maintain their texture and consistency. For extra convenience, choose meals that can be cooked straight from frozen to save time defrosting.

Reviews

This is another important factor in choosing good microwave meals. Check what other people say about them by reading reviews online.

Look at the product pages and use independent services like Trust Pilot to find out what other people did and didn’t like.

Read Wiltshire Farm Foods reviews

Storage

How your microwave meals are stored is also important to consider. If you don’t want to eat them immediately, or your plans may change, you need to know that the food won’t go off and be wasted.

Before you buy, check whether you need to store your meals in the fridge or freezer. And find out how long they can be stored for to check it suits you. Frozen food should be safe for up to six months as long as it doesn’t defrost.

Cooking

Make sure your ready meals can be cooked in the microwave before you buy them. Some products are only suitable for reheating in an oven.

Also check that the food comes in packaging that can safely be used in the microwave. This makes it much easier to prepare your dinner and saves on washing up! Usually the plastic can be recycled too.

Read how to cook our ready meals.

Plenty of choice

It’s no fun eating the same thing over and over again. Keep mealtimes fun by choosing ready meals from a company that has a wide range of choice. You’ll be more likely to eat well if there are lots of tasty options.

Delivery

Make ready meals even more convenient by getting them delivered to your home. For the best value, check for free delivery service right to your door with delivery days and time slots to suit you.

Look out for extra special service too! For example, at Wiltshire Farm Foods our friendly delivery drivers will even put away the meals in the freezer for you.

Microwave meals can be a great way to make mealtimes easier, as long as the food and ingredients are good quality. 

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