Thursday, 27 September 2012

Are you ready for a ready meal?

Think of your favourite food. What if I told you that you were not going to be eating that food again, for some considerable time... years... maybe forever? How would you feel about that? That was an argument I read recently in response to one woman's innocent question, about Free From food. Well, many of you who are reading this, will know exactly how that feels!

When I was first faced with going dairy free, I had no idea how much was going to be cut out of my life (e.g. chicken gravy - milk gets into everything) but also no idea how much of what was missing was going to be gradually added back into my life. 

The most obvious one I missed was of course milk, but also cheese, cream etc.

Since then, I have found a dairy and soya free substitute for milk, margarine, cheese, yoghurt and ice cream and even cream, all of which I love (if only they weren't so much more expensive, I would love them even more). Recently, I have even discovered some gorgeous dairy free and gluten free cookies (Lucy's). 

One of the other things that I've really missed, though, is the ability to just grab a ready meal, when you're in a hurry. There are now quite a few gluten free ready meals available, so if that were my only problem, I'd be fine, but it's the dairy free element that always seems to be the sticking point. 

I knew that there were a few out there - I'd heard about them and got tantalisingly close to them, but until quite recently, they eluded my grasp. But now, I have finally got my hands on some great dairy, gluten and soya free ready meals, which I'd readily buy again.

The box

Amy's Rice Macaroni with dairy free cheese was one such. Manufactured by an American company, they have proved to be tricky customers. I missed my chance to sample them at The Allergy Show in London (earlier in the year) and passed up the chance to order them from Goodness Direct (I didn't want to buy six frozen items nor did I want to pay extra for post and packaging). The Whole Foods market and other places that stock Amy's products only seem to stock the gluten free products. That is, apart from her tinned soups (I can't eat canned foods) or her Burrito (which is made with Baked Beans and is thus unsuitable for me, for reasons which I won't explain here), so it was only when I visited Food for Thought, that I managed to finally get hold of Amy's elusive dairy free macaroni cheese.

Handily, it comes in a little cardboard tray, which you can place in the oven (I don't 'do' microwaves). I wasn't expecting the real cheesy hit that I got from this meal, but it was definitely all there! Not quite as wonderful as my mother's version (but what ready meal, ever is) it was still pretty marvellous! 

My meal

My only complaint? I'm a real piggy and I would have liked a slightly larger portion. It was an okay size for lunch, but would never replace a proper evening meal - I'd probably need to add some generous servings of veggies, which kind of defeats the idea of a 'ready' meal, really, doesn't it? If you want to know what else was in it, follow this link.

Slightly more generous as regards serving size, are Kirsty's ready meals. Fairly recently launched via Sainbury's, I've struggled to find a Sainsbury's that stocks them, and I've been to quite a few! It was Ocado (who have expanded their Free From range) who came to my rescue here. The good news is that Kirsty's have proved so popular that Sainsbury's are planning to roll out her meals to more stores, as from this coming October. Yippee!!

I've now tried two of Kirsty's range (there are five altogether) the Cottage Pie with Sweet Potato Mash and the Spanish Chicken with Brown Rice (follow the links for the ingredient lists and nutritional information).

Kirsty's Cottage Pie
Both of these tasted really great, although I think the Spanish Chicken was my favourite. That may just have been because it had a spicy kick and I happened to be suffering from a cold at the time (I really find spicy food comforting when a cold kicks in) but of course my tastes may be different to yours.

Now, it turns out that Kirsty is looking for more recipe ideas, so that she can extend her range. So, if you can think of any (my thoughts turned immediately to Paella and Lasagne)  I'm sure she'd be delighted if you left a message on her Facebook page or sent your comments via Twitter.

Bon Appetit!

Update 2015:

Kirsty's have not only expanded their adult range (click here to view), which you can obtain in Waitrose, Asda and Sainsbury's but have also added a children's range, which is now available via Asda (see here).


  1. need to point my daughter towards this post, we blog wheat/gluten/egg/dairy/nut free due to grandsons needs

    1. Oh, I do hope she finds it useful. We're also on Facebook, where I try to post my most recent 'finds,' as soon as I find them - in the hope that people find them useful too. The nice thing is that other people contribute to the posts and we all end up helping each other.

  2. Hi Thank you very much for reviewing my meals, when I have some vouchers made I shall send you some to say thanks
    Kirsty x

    1. Hi Kirsty,

      You're welcome! I really just do this to help out others with the same/similar problems and try be as impartial as possible, so please don't worry about the vouchers.

      I really do hope that the range continues to sell successfully - so many people need access to these meals.


  3. I saw that argument and the mind boggles, if I want free from versions of certain foods then so be it. There is only one Vegan option for Kirsty's and I didn't rate it but I keep stocking up on the Amy's Kitchen dairy free mac & cheese. I love the dairy free burritos but they are so hard to find.

    1. I went back for some more of Amy's, but it was sold out - must be you buying up the shop :) Hopefully,supply will increase to meet additional demand!

      The dairy free burritos seem to be in most Holland & Barrett's, that I go into, but are also available at The Whole Food's Market. I have to say, once I had picked out all the beaked beans, I did think the burrito that I tried was quite yummy. Pity I can't eat beans!!