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Too tired to cook? Too busy to shop? Need to lose weight? Busy lifestyles often leave little time to shop, cook and eat the right meals for weight loss. Take-aways are quick and easy but they're no good for your waistline. Are home-delivered diet meals a better option for you? We put one lot to the test ...
Wouldn't it be nice to arrive home and your next week's meals are waiting for you on the doorstep? That's what we got with Dietlicious.
Dietlicious is a NSW-based business providing a range of gourmet, chef prepared, home delivered diet meals to the eastern states. A selection of diet meal items are available for snacks, breakfast, lunch and dinner or simply select from one of their meal plans. I sampled two of their dinner options, complete with separate vacuum packed vegetables and one lunch option accompanied by a salad.
Guest review by Airlie Lacy, student dietitian
Taste 9/10 combined score
Lunch option: Honey soy chicken with noodles
The chicken thigh meat was moist and tender, although there were a few bites where I had to remove some fat, but admittedly this is common with thigh meat. The honey soy sauce was packed full of flavour and there was lots of it. Corn and zucchini laced the chicken. This lunch is a generous serve, and with a Dietlicious side salad, it would definitely keep you going until dinner. No salad dressing is supplied. Drizzle over your own if you wish or use balsamic vinegar.
|Honey Soy Chicken||Fresh Salad||Lunch|
|1670kJ|| + 154kJ
Dinner option 1: Salmon with Pesto Crust
Salmon being a personal favourite and regular menu item at home, I knew by the look of the fillet that this salmon was quality. A beautiful pink plump fillet, limited fat marbling, skinless, ready prepared with a vibrant green basil pesto over the top. I cooked it as per instructions in the oven for 7 minutes. This is where personal preference comes in. If you like well-done, 7-9 minutes is perfect. I like my salmon rare through the middle making it extra juicy – so next time I'd cut it down to 5-6 mins. The pesto crust was a great partner for the salmon and gave flavour for the steamed veggies too. Yum!
|Salmon fillet||Seasonal veges||Dinner|
||+ 370kJ||= 1640kJ|
Dinner option 2: Arabian Beef
The Arabian beef was a knockout and clear winner of the three. The chunks of beef were large, tender and well trimmed of any fat. The curry sauce itself was phenomenal. Unmistakably the touch of a well versed chef with many secret herbs and spices up their sleeve. This would make a fantastic no-fuss option to have on hand for a dinner party. My husband gave it a 10/10. I second that!
|Arabian Beef||Roast veges||Dinner|
||+ 390kJ||= 1710kJ|
Forget the usual vegetable deal with frozen meals - you know what I mean, the typical carrot, a few scant overcooked beans and perhaps, if you're lucky, a hint of broccoli or pumpkin. The Dietlicious veggies were plentiful and boasted generous branches of broccoli, cauliflower as well as snow peas, chat potatoes, whole beans and carrots. Tucked inside the stir-fry veggies were also some fresh ginger and garlic. I was impressed!
The Best-before date indicates the veggies last 6 days in the fridge but I found that by the last day they were starting to discolour to a plaid grey. I suspect it's the added salt but not sure. So make sure you use them up promptly within 4-5 days for maximum colour and taste on your plate.
Kilojoules: Dietlicious menus are based on approximately 6000 kilojoules (1400 calories) per day. A diet level of intake to suit non-active women. But this would be too low as a weight loss intake for a male.
Yet, it is surprising how low in kilojoules these meals are considering their size and fill-factor. Choosing the Honey Soy Chicken lunch and salad with either of the two dinner options with veggies provides a total of around 3450 to 3500kJ. That is just over half your 6000kJ total intake from lunch and dinner - which still leaves ample room for breakfast and snacks.
Vegetables: Dinner and lunch (including the Dietlicious salad recommended with all lunches) would provide you with about 4 serves of vegetables. Pack some carrot sticks or cherry tomatoes on crispbread for morning or afternoon tea and you would easily achieve the recommended 5 serves a day.
Protein: Dietlicious lunch and dinner meals are all high in protein making them satisfying and filling but they're also using lean fat-trimmed meat and skinless chicken which keeps the saturated fat down.
Salt: The salt contents of the meals are not high however they aren't low. The aim for Aussies is to get our sodium intake down to under 2000mg a day, ideally down at 1600mg. Most people eat 4 to 6 times this amount and it's a real concern for high blood pressure and kidney complaints.
You may notice there is salt mentioned on the list of ingredients in the steamed veges. We spoke with Dietlicious and found they use a "pinch" of salt to cook a huge pot of the vegetables so it's extremely low – 27mg sodium per 100g.
The meals are another matter - the samples contained between 750 to 950mg of sodium which is a worry as you're getting over more than half your salt intake from one meal. Yet, looking at the whole selection of Dietlicious meals, most meals offered are below 700mg, with some even down to 412mg – a great low-salt option.
Dietlicious lunches are work-place friendly. Just pop into a microwave, heat up and eat. Easy! Just like other frozen diet meals-in-one such as Lean Cuisine or McCains Healthy Choices or Lite 'n' Easy.
Dietlicious dinners however, aren't an all-in-one pre-cooked microwave TV dinner type of option. There are a few but very simple steps to get the meal from the freezer to the table. Cook or microwave veggies and main separately, then combine them on a plate. I love that it takes some care and thought into how the food is cooked – one minute for the vegetables so as not to overcook them, seven minutes for the salmon to bake to well-done. Crush the included garlic yourself so that it doesn't lose its flavour. Short of eating out or buying in, to me, this is the ultimate cook-at-home fast food. Delivered to your door, semi-prepared, fresh, nutritious, simple ingredients packaged with clear instructions on cooking – do-able even for the most kitchen allergic people!
The bottom line
Credit where credit is due. It is hard to beat fresh ingredients, natural flavours and home-made cooking genius. The result? A win-win situation – great nutritional content AND brilliant taste.
Will you get sick of them if you're on a long-term diet? Maybe but they're way ahead of whatever the next-best choice is. And when that happens, you can do a spot of cooking yourself.
Use the week's meals to get your taste buds used to flavours and portion sizes. Then it's an easy transition to cooking something similar for yourself. You have to learn to cook well at home. But great to have a few in the freezer for those nights when you don't want to cook.
No payment has been received for this review. Airlie and Catherine each received a sample of diet meals at no cost from Dietlicious for review. We also bought additional samples at our own cost.