Pinch of Nom vs Ready Meals
When you feel short on time or too tired to cook, a dinner that can go straight from the microwave to your plate is more appealing than ever.
From time to time, ready meals can be the perfect solution, but they’re not your only option when it comes to convenient dinners. By dedicating a bit of time each week to batch cooking a reliable stock of PON recipes, you’ll always be one step ahead on those evenings where you can’t face all that prepping and cooking.
From takeaway classics to sweet treats, we’ve rounded up some slimming friendly family favourites that take little time and effort to prepare – and they’re good for your budget too!
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Classic ready meal dinners
You’ll usually find a mixture of worldly cuisines in the microwave meal section at your local supermarket. From cheesy, tomatoey pasta bakes to fiery curries, the selection has definitely broadened over the years.
When you’re overwhelmed with choice, you’re likely to look for a classic, and there are certain dishes you’ll notice time and time again in every supermarket freezer. The ready meal version of Lasagne has always been a winner because it’s undeniably quicker than preparing the Italian classic from scratch. To avoid missing out even if you’re busy, our recipe is suitable for freezing – and we think it tastes even better reheated. Winner!
We’ve packed plenty of veggies into our slimming friendly recipe, so you can enjoy all the traditional pasta-layered goodness for only 466 calories per portion.
Microwave meals can be tempting for the lack of washing up, but tasty homemade meals don’t have to leave you with an intimidating tower of pots and pans to tackle. Our Chilli Con Carne recipe is a simple one-pot dish, so you won’t be chained to the sink when dinner’s over.
For minimal effort, it offers maximum flavour: throw the ingredients into the pan and let it bubble away on the stove until the meat is tender and your sauce is rich.
You might fancy warming up with a curry after a long day. Our Creamy Chicken Curry won’t be ready in a matter of minutes, but the flavours are worth the wait.
If you’re not a fan of chicken, you can swap it out for beef, lamb, turkey or even prawns – the seriously rich korma-inspired sauce is SO good.
Rather than popping a Chinese-inspired dinner in the microwave, you can always whip up a Fakeaway version. If you love a sweet and sour dish, you’re bound to love our Chinese Chicken with Tomatoes recipe.
It only takes 25 minutes to prepare and cook, so it’s well worth putting the ingredients on your shopping list. Finish it off with a sprinkling of chopped spring onions and fluffy rice – delish!
Classic ready meal desserts
Everybody loves warming up with a hot, chocolatey sweet treat, and there’s nothing easier than tucking into a microwaveable pud. What if you could have a healthy, homemade alternative ready in under 10 minutes?
Our indulgent-tasting Chocolate Lava Mug Cakes are just as oozy and melt-in-the-middle as a ready-made option, and they’re super quick to make. We like to heat ours up in cute little ramekins like these, so we can serve them straight from the microwave!
If you don’t have ramekins handy, don’t worry – you can always microwave these sweet little puddings in a mug instead. How cute do they look? Don’t forget to top them with raspberries after they’ve cooled slightly.
You don’t have to peruse the shop shelves for a ready-made option if you’re craving something warm and fruity either. Our Apple Crumble has everything you’d expect from a traditional recipe; covered in a sweet topping with an irresistible crunch, you won’t believe it’s only 75 calories per portion. Why not ramp up the indulgence with a glug of Custard?
The beauty of a chilled, ready-made dessert is that it’s good to go – all that’s left to do is pull back the lid and grab a spoon. Rather than popping to the shops, why not round off your evening meal with a 5-minute crowd pleaser you can prepare at home like our classic Trifle recipe?
Not only is it super quick and convenient to make, it’s also deliciously fruity and creamy. Yes, please!
Quicker to make than a ready meal
We know ready meals are appealing because they’re super quick to prepare, and it’s not always easy to avoid leaning on them when you’re short on time. Our Spaghetti Carbonara recipe is perfect for days when you want to rustle up something fuss-free.
It takes 10 minutes of cooking time to transform fresh, healthy ingredients into a comforting dinner the whole family can enjoy together.
We’ve used low fat cream cheese to make sure it’s just as creamy as the Italian dish it’s inspired by, without the calories. If you feel like you want a little more flavour, why not try adding a teaspoon of wholegrain mustard into the sauce? Trust us, it works so well!
If you like the sound of an Italian-inspired quick dinner, our Chicken and Sweetcorn Pizza Calzone is another recipe you can have ready with very little time and effort.
We’ve taken low calorie tortilla wraps and filled them with tender chicken and veggies to create these pizza-like parcels. Bake them in the oven until they’re golden brown and piping hot throughout. Easy peasy!
You might think Chinese-takeaway flavours always take a long time to prepare, but our stir-fried Salt and Pepper Pork recipe goes from wok to plate in just 10 minutes.
Serve it up with fluffy rice and extra veggies for a super filling Friday night feast!
How about chicken nuggets on the table quicker than you can pop to the drive-through? Our crispy Air Fryer BBQ Chicken Nuggets are just as convenient as microwave alternatives.
By marinating the chicken in advance, you can guarantee your nuggets will be full of fast-food-flavour (without the calories) by the time you’re ready to pop them in the air fryer (or oven). At only 284 calories per portion, they’re light enough to become a weeknight dinner staple.
You’re much less likely to need to stock up on ready meals when you’ve got a meal plan to help you stay organised – our Quick & Easy Food Planner can help you out with that!
With space to set goals, celebrate your successes and note down your shopping lists (plus, 26 planner exclusive recipes!), you’ll never be short of inspiration.
What’s your go-to healthy ready meal alternative?
We’d love to know which alternative ready meal dinners or desserts you cook up at home. Take a picture and don’t forget to tag us!
We would love to see it over in our Facebook group. There are almost 1 million members who love to inspire and motivate others – it’s the perfect place to learn new tips and tricks for your slimming journey.