Delicious Nutritious Launches Chilled Meals
April 12, 2017
Delicious Nutritious Launches Chilled Meals
I’m a big advocate of cooking more of your own meals from fresh raw ingredients. That’s our best means of ensuring the quality of the produce and ultimately having more control over our diets.
That said most of us find it hard to do night after night. I’m a keen cook and love to get into my kitchen to create something new, but there are frequent times when I wish I could just magic a healthy meal onto the table with minimal fuss.
If you feel the same then what is the answer? Clearly, it’s being able to buy and have in our fridge or freezer a few healthy pre-prepared meals. They need to tick the nutrition boxes, pass the taste test with flying colours, have nothing nasty added and come in on budget.  
Home delivered meals have come a long way in the last few years, with several healthier options, but to date there hasn’t been much choice on the supermarket shelves. So, when I was invited to taste and review the new chilled meals from the Delicious Nutritious brand – a collaboration between Woolworths and Michelle Bridges – I was hopeful.
Delicious Nutritious already has a frozen selection of meals that have been successful. The new range expands on this by offering an all new range of ready meals chilled – so, you’ll find them in the deli section.  
There are initially 5 meal varieties: Wholemeal Penne Bolognese with Roasted Vegetables, Butter Chicken with Wholegrain Rice, Peri-Peri Style Chicken with Whole Grain Rice, Beef & Barley Casserole with Roasted Vegetables and Italian Style Chicken with Whole Grain Penne Pasta. And I’ve got to say they all taste pretty good!
Nutritionally I’m not surprised they are stacking up as the Woolworths team of dietitians and nutritionists have been intimately involved, working with Michelle and setting nutrition guidelines and ensuring the range meets their criteria. As a result, all the meals score 4 stars on the Health Star Rating System.
In the past healthy style meals tended to scrimp on the protein-rich food, given that this is the most expensive ingredient, go heavy on the cheaper carb-rich food and keep fat levels down to keep the overall kilojoules low as well as adhere to the low-fat trend of the last few decades. I’m pleased to see a much better balance with this range.
All meals are nutritionally balanced and have well under 1880 kilojoules (450 calories). They are all high in protein with between 18% and 29% of the total energy coming from protein. Fat provides from 31% to 38%, and the carbohydrate levels are moderate providing 35% to 44% of the total energy.  
Beef & Barley Casserole (I added a mixed salad) and the Peri-Peri Chicken (I added the steamed broccolini)

Each meal contains two serves of vegetables – the Beef and Barley Casserole has two and a half – helping to get you towards your five-a-day goal. What they do lack however are leafy greens and other more delicate veggies. This is because these types of veggies do not last well in a chilled meal and would drastically reduce the shelf life. That’s easy to fix – I simply added a leafy green salad or steamed fresh greens such as broccolini to each meal. I recommend you do the same to help ensure you meet your daily veggie target.
I do love that the meals use wholegrain rice and wholegrain pasta, while the Beef & Barley Casserole has low GI, fibre-rich pearl barley. The focus is very much on what I call smart carbs. This ensures all the meals are a good source of fibre, ranging from 4.6g to 9.4g per serve, setting you well on your way to reaching your target of 25-30g a day.
My advice when buying any packaged food is to read the ingredients list. A good product has a list of ingredients that you recognise and could potentially buy to make the meal yourself. These hit the mark in this regard.
My only criticism is that I’m not a fan of refined, processed oils such as canola being used, albeit in small amounts, in all meals. I would much prefer to see them cooking with Australian extra virgin olive oil. On questioning Woolworths about why they don’t, price was theanswer given. Unfortunately, large scale, bulk produced, commercial refined oils are always going to win on price over a superior, natural, unrefined product. But I guess the upside is that the price of these meals is affordable and competitive with far less nutritious offerings at only $7.99. Just be sure to be using extra virgin olive oil yourself at home.
Nothing artificial is added so you won’t find preservatives, colourings or artificial flavourings, often a problem with convenience foods. Perhaps most impressively they have managed to get the sodium levels down to almost 50% less than most ready meals. Hats off to Michelle here - the Woolworths team told me that she pushed strongly for this. A low sodium food has less than 120mg/100g and high is above 600mg/100g. The Delicious Nutritious meals range from 102mg-186mg/100g. I didn’t feel the taste was compromised at all as there is a nice use of herbs and spices to deliver a good flavour without too much salt.
Neither do they add any refined sugars. Only a little honey is used where needed and the remaining sugar is that naturally present in the veggies and wholegrains. Overall the sugar levels are less than 5g/100g – what you would expect from savoury dishes.
Overall, I congratulate Woolworths and Michelle Bridges for bringing a range to market of affordable, healthy ready-made meals. If having a few of these meals easy to hand (and you can freeze them yourself if need be) stops you from ordering far less nutritious takeaway on those nights when you can’t or don’t want to cook, that’s a significant boost towards a healthier diet.