5:2 Diet Tips

5-2 Diet Tips – Eat Well and Cook Less?

OK, a guilty little secret about me and the 5-2 fast diet.  I enjoy cooking on 5-2 diet fast days.  Maybe a masochistic tendency, maybe just  wanting to keep busy.  But like everyone there are days when I simply don’t have time to make home-made soups.  Or, when I am somewhere where it’s not possible, perhaps with just a microwave to warm something up.  So here are some 5-2 diet tips for those of you who prefer not to cook.

5-2 diet vegetable and shirataki noodle stirfry

I’ve been testing a few things to see what works for me.  And, while I’ll still carry on making my own meals most of the time, some of what I have tried has been very good indeed.  And, I’ve also experimented a bit with mix and match – adding my own personality to a ready meal of some sort.

The first things I tried were Innocent veg pots.  Why?  Well, because on special offer at the Co-op these were under £2.00 for a complete meal.  And, that’s not bad at all for something very fresh and healthy tasting.  The one I tried was Thai Curry, very nice, it came complete with rice so would work very well if you had access to a microwave as an office lunch. 312 calories a pot though.

innocent veg pot

It does live up to the marketing – with a great coconut aroma as you open up the pot and some crunchy bits of of veg.  Not really spicy enough for me to think it was authentially Thai, it WAS very good to eat, though didn’t seem as substantial as some of the alternatives.  I tried eating it with shirataki rice (5 calories for a portion), but I’m afraid it was dreadful, rubbery and I regretted even thinking it might be a good idea (the noodles ARE quite ok!!!)

My second experiment was with a couple of sample pots kindly sent to me to try.  Now, I know that one of the best ways to stay feeling full on 5-2 diet fast day is to eat food like beans and pulses that are low GI.  So  I was quite keen to try and see if it worked for me.  And these cheerful pots are really very low calorie – the Morroccan Chickpea Tagine is just 211 calories while the Mexican Chilli is 214 calories. They also won the 2012 Healthy Awards for best Slimming and Fitness products!

mexican bean chilli

For my personal taste the Chilli just wasn’t hot enough.  Easily remedied, I added a touch of luchito.  I also ate this as a side dish, half a pot at a time, with Mexican chicken (a baked chilli spiced chicken breast).  Which sort of defeated the purpose of the ready meal, though it was very good!

a 5-2 diet mexican feast

The Morrocan Chickpea Tagine was my favourite of all the ready meals for dieting.  I really didn’t need or want to do anything to it.  And, although I thought I’d be hungry and had enough calories to add a small portion of rice (75g cooked rice at 100calories), I really didn’t need it and ended up leaving most of the rice!

Easybeans are made in Somerset and available from Waitrose and a few other supermarkets.  The two pots I was sent are both Fairtrade.  I’ll definitely be keeping a chickpea tagine in the fridge for emergency 5-2 fast day feeding!

5-2 diet vegetable and shirataki noodle stirfry with unearthed prawns

Then, my final review is of some rather lovely looking garlic prawns sent to me by Foods Unearthed.  I genuinely love their products so I was delighted to win a great hamper of goodies from them but rather despairing of things that I could eat on fast days…although you might remember my cod recipe with nduja.  Then I checked the back of the packets of garlic prawns.  141 calories per 100g (a whole pack of 4 skewers is 170g).  So I figured that I could have three skewers for about 200 calories, leaving me enough room to add in a shirataki noodle and vegetable stir fry at 68 calories.  As it turns out I could easily have just eaten the prawns alone…they are succulent and come in a very tasty garlic and parsley sauce.   Strictly speaking not a ready meal, they have the advantage of a long shelf life (2-3 weeks) and suit my personal style of eating because I can cook ‘around’ them!

Low Calorie Vegetable and Shirataki Noodle StirFry

Serves 1-2
Prep time 5 minutes
Cook time 10 minutes
Total time 15 minutes
Dietary Vegan, Vegetarian
Meal type Main Dish, Side Dish
Misc Serve Hot
Region Asian


  • 100g Shirataki Noodles (Prepared by rinsing several times in hot water and soaking for a minute in boiling water)
  • 1/2 Red Pepper
  • 1 Small Pak Choi
  • 100g Broccolli
  • 50g Carrot
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon Sesame Oil
  • 1 tablespoon Light low salt soy
  • 1 Chilli
  • 1 piece Ginger


Step 1 Crush or finely chop the garlic, finely chop the ginger and deseed and finely slice the chilli
Step 2 Slice the pak choi into ribbons, divide the broccoli into florets, cut the carrot into matchstick batons and slice the red pepper
Step 3 Heat the sesame oil in a non-stick wok and then add the garlic, ginger and chili. Cook for a minute or so. Then add in carrots and stir for a minute, then add red pepper and brocolli and cook for a further minute. Finally add in the pak choi and stir fry for a minute. If the mixture looks as if it is getting dry add a little water.
Step 4 Now add in the soy and the drained noodles and cook for a further minute, stirring continuously, just so the noodles are heated through

Anyway, I’m including the recipe for the vegetable and shirataki noodle stirfry, which differs a little from a normal stir fry because the noodles need plenty of added flavour.  The calorie count is for using the recipe as a side dish (e.g. half a portion).

5-2 diet vegetable stirfry

So, even if you prefer NOT to spend your time in the kitchen on 5-2 diet fast days, well, you really can feast, even on a fast day!

If you are doing the 5-2 diet (or any other low calorie diet programme) do you eat ready meals?  If so which ones do you like best?  And if you are thinking of starting the 5-2 here’s a link to my 5-2 diet tips for beginners!


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  1. Ruth says

    Just a quick question, did you get your shirataki rice from H&B? They always seem to be out when I go and they don’t seem to stock them online

    • says

      Apparently you do. The origination of the diet was some research from the states where they looked at the health benefits (rather than weight loss) of fasting and of cutting calories. They found that reducing your calorie intake to less than 25%-30% of your daily requirements (roughly 500 for a woman and 600 for a man) gave all the same health benefits. The original programme summary is http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-19112549 and you can also find you tube clips of the whole programme if you search a bit. Notably, it wasn’t meant to be about weight loss…that is a side effect that for most people makes the concept attractive.

        • says


          I believe Lighterlife are doing a 5:2 diet fast day meal pack. And, many of my fellow dieters seem to like the M&S fuller-longer range (just look at the calorie count). Personally if I am not cooking I buy innocent veg pots and the fresh soups you see marked as ‘skinny’ or ‘low calorie’ from the supermarket.

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