Can Ready Meals be Healthy?
In general I avoid buying ready meals. Despite the obvious advantages for someone who lives alone, I have a deep-seated mistrust of the kind of food sold in plastic tubs that sit on supermarket shelves, their cardboard wrappers displaying enticing pictures of food that simply doesn’t look the same as the content once I’ve cooked it. Perhaps it’s my inability to microwave properly?
I’m not convinced most supermarket ready-meals are healthy either – even those attempts to create slimming meals or ones with lower fat/higher fibre just make me feel uncomfortable. I prefer knowing what is going into my meals. That way I can keep some kind of control on sugar and salt content and make sure I eat a good selection of vegetables.
Bonapeti claims to be different. It’s a home/office delivery service of meals which can be eaten cold or (sometimes) heated up. All the dishes are vegetarian, most are vegan and many are also gluten free, refined sugar free and dairy free. There’s an option of ordering daily or weekly, with two main course options, a daily side dish and a dessert on offer from Tuesdays through to Fridays. For now, their delivery area is Central and West London; they don’t yet cover the City or my own area just South of the River. But that is planned to change and I was sent a selection of dishes to try for the purposes of this review.
Each dish came with its own menu card, providing options for serving and a full breakdown of ingredients and nutritional value. I had one side dish, two main courses and what turned out to be a very large dessert. And, for a few days I simply didn’t miss meat at all.
What I did miss though was hot food. Only one of the main courses was designed to be eaten hot, unsuprisingly during a chilly February, that was much my favourite. The Salisify tandoori curry with brown rice and chickpea pilaf and a coconut chutney WAS delicious and filling. At 341 calories per serving it would have worked well as a diet dish but it didn’t leave me feeling at all hungry. At £9.95 though it wouldn’t be an everyday option for me.
Quinori, mushrooms, Jerusalem artichokes and celery with sunflower seed pesto made an excellent lunch. Intended as a side dish it was actually nice enough to eat on it’s own and at £4.95 seemed like quite a bargain.
Squash noodles with a sesame miso dressing and a fennel, carrot and seaweed salad was delicious and filling, but not something that required any heating. Once again priced at £9.50 I’m not quite enough of a health food advocate to personally value the obviously ultra fresh vegetables and delicious nut based creams.
The dessert, a gooey chocolate amaranth pudding with poached bananas, hazelnut, banana chip and cacao nib crumble was delicious but incredibly calorific. In fact, I suspect the serving would be more than enough for two people…and with 1126 calories per serving if you eat the whole thing, that might be advisable.
Would I order the food? Yes if I was working to a deadline and wanted to eat well without having to spend time in the kitchen. Or, if I was working in an office and just felt the need for some very healthy meals. It’s not a cheap option but there’s a lot of attention to detail and it is clear the aim is to produce very appetising and healthy food. I’d have preferred to see the pudding served in two portions because there was a lot both in terms of calories and portion size for one person. Next time I’d take at least half the content of the pot out before heating because I ended up wasting rather a lot of it.
Bonapeti isn’t a cheap option but if you want to eat a clean, vegetarian semi-raw diet and simply don’t have time to shop and cook for yourself then it might be worth trying. Even if it is not for every day, it is perfect for those times when your body is craving something healthy and you just don’t want to succumb to another takeaway pizza.
If you are curious, why not check out the Bonapeti website.
Disclaimer: I was sent samples of the Bonapeti menu for the purpose of review