With 2022 still young and New Year’s resolutions still fresh in our minds, many Scots will be trying to keep up with diet and exercise plans.
But eating healthy can be difficult, especially when it comes to planning a full week of nutrition-packed meals.
Fortunately, Iceland can help.
The frozen food retailer has joined forces with Slimming World to create a series of meals designed to help you lose weight.
But the big question is, are they good?
Journalist Dianne Bournne of the Manchester Evening News put the range of ready meals to the test by keeping it going for a full week and documenting her weight loss during the diet experiment.
Chicken Tikka & Rice Lunch Bowl – £2.75
Dianne said: “A great way to start the week of taste testing, with one of the lunch meals, designed, as the title suggests, as a lighter option during the day.
“This is a new one in the range and I enjoyed what was a satisfying mix of crisp vegetables, rice and tasty tikka-coated chicken pieces that was also quite filling.”
Chicken Carbonara – €3.50
Dianne said: “I didn’t have high hopes for this one as it smelled a bit off-putting while microwaving.
“Advertised as a ‘comfort pasta dish with seared chicken, smoked pork tenders, mushrooms and spinach in a white sauce,’ it didn’t seem all that inspiring or comforting when served on my plate.
“There were about eight pieces of chicken and some strips of pork, and my first thought was that it seemed to taste very salty and the consistency was a bit sticky.
“For me, I think I’d rather stick to making my own carbonara, as Slimming World’s version (with ham and egg, both ‘free’ foods) is a fairly simple recipe and much cheaper to make from scratch.”
Cauliflower and chickpea dahl – 3,25€
Dianne said, “This can be eaten on its own or as a side dish. It probably would have been better as a side dish if I’m being honest, as I found it a bit subpar as a lunch dish.”
“However, it had a nice curry kick to it and I like the crunch of the cauliflower with the chickpeas.”
Chili Con Carne – £3.50
Dianne said: “A really hearty dish with large chunks of meat in a rich sauce and the rice was very well seasoned.
“If you weren’t doing Slimming World, you’d think this is just a regular chili meal, which is probably the best compliment I can give.
“In fact, my friend’s beefy 16-year-old ‘accidentally’ microwaved one of these and gave it a big thumbs up too, so he’s definitely good at the ‘generous portion’ stakes.”
Cowboy Stew – £3.50
Dianne said: “It’s safe to say this was the dish I was most looking forward to.
“I mean, it’s got cowboy in its title and sausage and fries, so what’s not to love? Well, unfortunately the dish itself was the thing I couldn’t learn to love.
“It said on the package that it was best cooked in the oven and I followed the cooking times to the letter, but it came out very dry and heavy. It just didn’t do anything for me at all – the sausages were firm and dry and the potatoes had too a powdery consistency on top.
“So disappointed in this one, definitely not a yee-ha moment from me.”
Veal Vindaloo – €3.75
Dianne said: “Tea time really gave me one of the highlights of the week though – on the new beef vindaloo dish.
“It was a real treat. A really brilliant hit of spices in a rich tomato sauce with tasty chunks of meat.”
Moroccan Chicken Soup – £2.25
Dianne said: “Again a very unpleasant smell from the microwave but once cooked this one was quite delicious.
“A really interesting mix of spices with a decent amount of spiciness and lots of shredded chicken made this a warm and hearty soup dish that I would definitely buy again.”
Beef lasagna – €3.50
Dianne said: “This has been a favorite of many SW-ers for a while now, but they just introduced a new recipe. So is it as good as the old one?
“Well, I was really excited about this one, because it’s even better. The new recipe finally achieved the elusive creamy cheesy look of lasagna that isn’t easy to make.
“Taking a look at the recipe card inside, it appears to be a mixture of butternut squash, potato and the magical Quark that has created the delicious crispy cheese topping here.
“A word of warning on this though: While it can be microwaved, it says for best results pop it in the oven. And while it takes a whopping 50 minutes, it tastes much better this way to get that cheesy crunch.” “.
Naked Beef Burrito – £2.75
Dianne said: “A good amount of spice in this one, and it’s a pretty satisfying lunch pot.
“If you have your cheese HEA available, I think you’d be better off with this mixed in: I added some bell peppers and salad on the side.”
Hunter’s Chicken – £6.50
Dianne said, “This one has to be cooked in the oven and it’s a large portion for two, so my other half was forced to eat this with me.
“It had a long cook time of over an hour this one, and I’m not sure if that’s why the chicken was a bit dry and chewy. And what is certain is that it looked nothing like the glossy picture on the packaging when it came out of my oven.
“But the overall flavor was fine, although the barbecue sauce was a bit watery. My feeling is that it would be much easier and better to just recreate it at home – it’s just a slice of bacon on top of some chicken, really.”
Cabbage Cannon Mash – £2
Dianne said: “Being a bit out of options at this stage, I decide to try the colcannon puree which I pair with broccoli and steamed salmon.
“The mash is, like many foods, a bit salty, but it goes well with the salmon and I like that you can taste the cabbage in the mash mix.
“This one is convenient to have in the freezer for those times when you can’t be bothered to make your own puree.”
Tray of baked smoked meatballs with potato wedges – £7
Dianne said: “The meatballs were a bit dry but decent flavored and extremely nice when mixed with all the smoked tomato sauce and chickpeas. There was a decent sized portion for two of us, although we added a lot of vegetables for speed.
“This one was really tasty, but I’m afraid it can’t get full marks for the sheer faff factor. It took 1 hour and 5 minutes to cook in the oven, which has a very low convenience factor, as does the great package size i needed to try and put in my not very big freezer.
“It’s also quite expensive for this style of dish.”
World Slimming Chips – £2.50
Dianne said, “It’s the last day, so I’m going to go all out with the curry and chips on the menu. And there’s literally nothing else left to eat. So I popped some of the frozen chips in the oven and I serve them with some baked beans
“Now with these frozen chips, people either love them or hate them based on my experience at the Slimming World group.
“I personally perfected a good flavor by sprinkling them with a bit of synthesis-free spices and then spraying them with a low-calorie spray.
“They have a bit of an odd consistency, but they’re a convenient option to have ready in the freezer when you can’t peel and cut potatoes and cook them from scratch.”
Chicken tikka rogan josh – £3.50
Dianne said: “Finishing the week on a high with this classic curry. Slimming World’s chicken tikka masala has been a staple since the Iceland range was first launched but this new version of rogan josh might even top it for my.
“I loved the spice in this one, and the added bits of tomato and pepper. You could almost be eating a ‘real’ curry to go.”
Dianne said, “Well, this is the big question, isn’t it?
“After a full week of eating the prepackaged meals and following the Slimming World plan 100 percent for the rest of the day, I would have been a wreck if I hadn’t lost weight.
“But guess what? I did. I lost a whopping 3 pounds.
“Which shows that sticking to ‘free food’ and the rest of the rules of the Slimming World plan does work.”
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