Promising clean muscle meals packed full of protein and designed for an active lifestyle, CORE Powerfoods deliver a variety of frozen ready-made meals designed to be stored in your freezer until you need them. It’s important to understand that these meals are frozen not fresh, which is not clearly advertised on their website.
We know that having a controlled diet is one of the most important factors for reaching your fitness goals, which is why delivery services like CORE Powerfoods are such an interesting proposition. You’re able to get pre-portioned meals that are quick to cook and easy to measure your intake.
This CORE Powerfoods review covers everything from the ordering experience and price to the taste and enjoyment of the meals. Read on to see what I really thought of their offering.
CORE Powerfoods Prepared Meals Review
CORE Powerfoods Review - Summary
Cheap meals, but with little else going for them. Much better alternatives elsewhere if you’re willing to pay a little more.
Ordering - Website - 6/10
Food - Quality - 3/10
Ordering - Meal Choice - 4/10
Food - Taste - 3/10
Ordering - Delivery - 9/10
Value For Money - 5/10
- Meals as low as $6 per portion.
- Small portion sizes.
- Meals are often bland / tasteless.
- Texture of food is generally overcooked.
- Very limited meal variety.
If you’ve never tried a prepared meals service before, they can be truly liberating! No more purchasing ingredients and having to cook meals from scratch, saving you loads of time every day. No judgement if you want to use that saved time for a quick nap.
I pulled together some of the most common FAQ’s in my guide to prepared meals services.
- 1 Getting started with CORE Powerfoods
- 2 Meal variety and options
- 3 Delivery options
- 4 How much does CORE Powerfoods cost?
- 5 My CORE Powerfoods box
- 6 How’s the food?
- 7 My Final Thoughts
Getting started with CORE Powerfoods
CORE Powerfoods have a very simple offering of frozen ready meals, allowing you to select as many meals as you want from their menu.
Alternatively, you can choose to purchase one of their ‘fixed packs’ that provides a pre-set number of meals designed for specific purposes including:
- Ultimate Performance Pack
- High Calorie High Protein Pack
- Low Calorie Low Protein Pack
- Original Ultimate Nutrition Pack
With these pre-set packs, you normally get 2-3 of each meal and can’t swap out any meals within the pack.
For each meal, you can see detailed information about the ingredients and nutritional content. This includes values for Calories, Protein, Fat and Sugars that are all incredibly important for meeting your fitness goals.
Instead of ordering meals online, you’re also able to pick them up at various supermarkets across Australia. CORE Powerfoods are stocked various Coles and IGA stores. Although we talk about the cost of ordering later on, it’s important to know that you can pick up meals for $9.00 at Coles although they are occasionally on offer at $7.00 each.
Meal variety and options
CORE Powerfoods offer a regular menu of 24 different meal options which doesn’t appear to change very often. Their meals range between 240 and 600 calories which I immediately struggle to associate with muscle gain. An average man who’s looking to gain muscle will need to consume between 2500 – 3000 calories a day which is equivalent to more than 5 CORE Powerfoods meals.
In fact, their Naked Chicken at 241 calories is something I would associate much more closely with a weight loss plan. Examples of other meals include:
All of the meals use either beef or chicken as their main protein source, except for a solitary vegetarian dish. This means there is very little variety in the meals you can order.
You are also able to buy a small range of snacks in the form of ‘Smart Protein Bars’ that have around 20g of protein in them.
- Chipotle Chicken
- Naked Parmigiana
- Deep South Chilli
- Clean Cottage Pie
- Moroccan Lamb Pizza
Special diets and food intolerance
There are definitely no options for anyone following a vegetarian or vegan diet, despite their FAQ claiming otherwise. It’s clear that there may have used to be a plant-based range that is no longer available.
The meals themselves are relatively simple and use basic ingredients, so they are likely suitable for people with various allergies. However, I do urge caution as all the food is prepped/cooked in the same kitchen and there may have been cross-contamination. This is what CORE Powerfoods say:
Our chefs take the highest care to keep allergy-prone ingredients out of certain meals. However, they may still be present, as all of our products are produced in the same facility. We suggest checking the ingredient list for each meal thoroughly before consumption. Contact our customer service team if you’re still unsure.FAQ
CORE Powerfoods have a strong delivery network, which is able to deliver to most areas of Australia. Whilst I can’t check every postcode, they do appear to deliver to most regional towns.
Delivery costs a flat fee of $9.95 for all orders regardless of your location, although there is a charge of $19.95 if your order is less that $49 in total. This is simply to discourage really small orders and is fairly standard across food delivery services.
Delivery dates will vary depending on where you live, although expect to be able to choose from 1-2 days each week for your delivery. You don’t need to be at home to receive a delivery as the packaging can hold a safe temperature for up to 8 hours. Ideally, on a hot day, I wouldn’t suggest leaving them for more than 4 hours though.
How much does CORE Powerfoods cost?
Meals are priced at a standard $9.00 per meal which is definitely cheap compared to most meal delivery services.
If you’re ordering off the standard menu, there is an offer to save:
- 11% off 12+ meals
- 22% off 18+ meals
- 33% off 24+ meals
That means that if you order 24 meals you can get the per-meal cost down to just $5.99. There aren’t many places you can get cheaper meals, with only YouFoodz I know that can compete. If you’re on a really tight budget and need some meals for when you’re too busy to cook, it’s hard not to view buying 24 CORE Powerfoods meals as an incredible deal.
The small range of snacks come in at $4.95 per protein bar and although they don’t get counted as a ‘meal’, they do get discounted with those bulk orders.
My CORE Powerfoods box
My box arrived right in the middle of the day, which I was able to pick up straight away (the benefits of working from home!). The cardboard has been bashed around a little, with the tape not quite holding the top together any more. Fortunately, this hadn’t impacted the contents inside at all.
Inside, all my meals were stacked neatly on top of each other. There had been some ice build-up on the outside of some of the packaging, although this didn’t seem to have impacted any of the meals themselves.
Recycling the contents
All of the delivery contents are 100% recyclable, which is important as CORE Powerfoods don’t offer a collection scheme.
Delivery Box – Recycle in normal recycling collection.
Gel Ice Packs – You need to empty out the contents which are perfect for your garden beds. The outer packaging can be placed in normal recycling.
Thermal Liners– Recycle in a soft plastics recycling bin found at most supermarkets.
Cardboard Sleeves – Recycle in normal recycling collection.
Plastic Trays – Recycle in normal recycling collection.
The sustainability credentials of CORE Powerfoods are fairly standard within the prepared meals industry. Check out my blog on on the environmental impact of food boxes for more information and inspiration on re-using materials.
How’s the food?
Unfortunately, this is where the whole review gets very disappointing.
Every meal that I ate (with the exception of the pizza) could only be described as ‘edible’. Here are the main problems I had with the meals:
- Tough, Chewy Chicken – Most of the dishes I tried either had chicken fillets or diced chicken, but they all suffered from the same problem where the chicken was just massively overcooked. This meant that it was tough and chewy, making it very difficult to eat.
- Soggy Vegetables – The nature of freezing and reheating vegetables can make it very difficult to get them cooked right, however it felt like these vegetables (mostly green beans / peas) had been boiled to within an inch of their life. There was absolutely zero bite/crunch and very little taste.
- Lack of Flavour – Despite bringing some interesting meals to the market, they constantly disappointed on flavour. Even meals like the Mongolian Chicken and Butter Chicken were incredibly bland, partially down to the relatively small amount of sauce provided with each meal.
- Dry Beef – Meatballs are one of the foods I would generally avoid reheating in the microwave, simply because they get very tough when reheated this way. Unsurprisingly, CORE Powerfoods haven’t found the solution to this problem and this made for a very dry, chewy meatball.
Ultimately, I was really forcing myself to eat each meal. I was not looking forward to eating them after having the first 4-5 disappointing dinners. The only exception was the pizza which was quite tasty and unique in the way it’s cooked in the packaging. However, I would suggest a frozen pizza from your local supermarket will be larger at the same price.
Cooking the prepared meals
The meals require a blasting in the microwave to cook them from frozen, taking between 6 – 7 minutes to get up to the right temperature.
I found the plastic containers to be a good size to eat directly from, with the lids having a clever mechanism to make it really easy to get them off even when the plastic is really hot.
As mentioned before, the pizzas can be cooked directly from the packaging which is really convenient.
Dishes I loved
- The pizza was good, but ‘loved’ is probably too strong
Dishes I wouldn’t recommend
- Butter Chicken
- Seismic Chicken
- Mongolian Chicken
- Holy Meatballs
My Final Thoughts
The only redeeming feature of CORE Powerfoods is the price.
Marketed as suitable for ‘muscle meals’, the reality is that most of the meals are too small for this purpose. The selection of meals is very limited with only chicken and beef recipes to choose from and these will get boring quickly. Then, you have the slightly devious marketing where they don’t mention the meals are frozen which leaves a poor taste in the mouth.
These points are all before you even consider the meals themselves which are generally bland, tasteless and either chewy/dry or soggy.
The only scenario I would recommend CORE Powerfoods is if you’re on an exceptionally tight budget and want to stock up your freezer for the occasional meal when you’re in a rush. For any other scenario, I would recommend checking out our reviews of My Muscle Chef and Macros which are both aimed at the fitness market.