Welcome to Food Box Mate’s comprehensive Prepared Meals guide. I hope to cover any potential questions or concerns you might have about Prepared Meals services in this guide, so if there’s something we haven’t covered then just let us know through our Facebook page. Our site has plenty of other content for you, so feel free to also check out our Blog, Reviews and Comparisons all about Food Boxes in Australia.
What is a Prepared Meals service?
These services delivery ready-made meals to your door, making it easy for you to just put them into the microwave. Often, these come as a weekly subscription service where you receive a new delivery every week. In Australia, the most popular services include Lite n Easy, YouFoodz and MyMuscleChef.
Why are Prepared Meals so great?
The primary benefit of these services is the convenience of eating healthy, nutritious meals without having to do any cooking. For people who have limited cooking skills, time or mobility these services have the ability to completely change the potential variety of diet available to them. Some of the main reasons I enjoy prepared meals are:
- Ready in under 5 minutes – As soon as you’re ready to eat dinner, you can have your food hot and on your plate in less than 5 minutes. This is perfect for anyone who gets home from work late and doesn’t have time to cook full meals.
- Incredibly simple to cook – Tackling that “I can’t be bothered to cook” feeling means you can avoid getting an unhealthy takeaway, instead grabbing a prepared meal from the fridge.
- Variety of meals – All the services available in Australia offer 30+ different meals you can order each week, so it’s hard to get bored.
- Controlled portions – As you get all your food in one simple container, it makes controlling your caloric intake very easy to do. For anyone dieting, this can make a huge difference on your weight loss journey.
What services are available in Australia?
There are hundreds of prepared meals services across Australia, some of which only provide meals to local areas. The most popular services include:
Which is the best Prepared Meals service?
This entirely depends on why you want to buy ready-made meals as well as the budget available to you.
I’m constantly reviewing new services, so head over and check out my list of prepared meal reviews to see if any of them meet your specific needs.
How do I order my Prepared Meals?
Services generally fit into one of two categories: Order or Subscription.
- Order – These services require you to make a new order every time you want more of their meals. This gives you the freedom to only get products when you really need them and total control over the delivery schedule.
- Subscription – Many services offer set delivery days each week, where they’ll deliver a week’s worth of meals. You’re often asked to join their subscription service which automatically delivers new meals to you each week. Fortunately, these are always very easy to pause or cancel if you want to stop your deliveries.
If you’re interested in a prepared meals service, it’s worth checking to see what model they work on and whether that suits you.
How does Delivery normally work?
Depending on the size of the service you’re ordering from, they will either offer you the choice delivery days or you’ll be limited to the specific delivery day when they visit your area. If being able to choose your delivery day is important to you, you’ll need to check with each provider directly.
Fortunately, deliveries are always provided in chilled containers that mean your food can stay outside for at least 12 hours after arriving at your house. That means you can get it delivered whilst you’re at work and just bring it inside when you get home.
Are Prepared Meals services environmentally friendly?
The unfortunate reality is that each meal is provided in individual plastic/cardboard containers and they all arrive in a large, insulated cardboard box. That all means that a lot of packaging needs to be disposed of with each delivery.
Therefore, you must be careful in recycling everything that arrives. Every service I have tested has always made sure everything is fully recyclable. I wrote a full blog post on how best to manage your environmental impact.
Eating Your Prepared Meals
How do I heat up my meals?
All the services I have tested recommend that meals are heated up in the microwave. This is because the food is already fully cooked before it’s sent for delivery, therefore just needs some heating.
It is normally possible to heat certain meals up in the oven or hob, however I highly recommend you check with the provider before you do this. You’re also not guaranteed to get the best taste or experience. So, I would say that having a microwave is a pre-requisite to getting a prepared meals delivery.
How long do meals usually last for?
This depends on whether you’re using a service that sends chilled or frozen meals.
If you’re using a chilled meals providers, there’s often a 5-10 day shelf life on each meal. That means you need to plan ahead and make sure you’ll be able to eat all your meals within the next 7-10 days.
If you’re using a frozen meals provider, these can normally be stored for 3-4 months or longer.
Can I freeze my meals?
Sometimes, life has a way of ruining the best laid plans. Those meals you were hoping to eat this week? No longer possible!
In this scenario, it’s normally absolutely fine for you to put your meals in the freezer to keep them for longer. The sooner you can do this, the better. Unfortunately this process is likely to have a negative impact on the taste/texture of your meals, however it’s a far better alternative to throwing them away.
When eating a meal that has been frozen, it’s best to completely defrost them in the fridge for 12+hours before eating. If that’s not possible, give them at least 60 seconds longer in the microwave and check that your food is fully heated through before eating.