What do you have for lunch? A sandwich at your desk? I’m lucky enough to work from home so it tends to be egg on toast for me, but honestly, a lot of the time – especially if I’m busy – it’s a bowl of cereal, which I’m aware is not ideal. Some research recently carried out showed that one in three of us eat the same lunch every day* – how boring is that?! When the lovely chaps at Weight Watchers got in touch and asked if I’d be up for taking the Weight Watchers lunchtime challenge, I’ll be honest, I was initially a bit sceptical. We don’t really eat that many ready meals, but when faced with the delicious sounding menu of the Weight Watchers chilled prepared meals range, we decided to give it a go and spice up our lunchtimes!
The Weight Watchers lunchtime challenge: our judging criteria
We’re a scientific bunch here at English Towers (cough), so we decided that we’d judge all the meals by the same criteria:
1 How satisfying it was (1 being the least, 10 being the most)
2 How much faff (technical term) it was to make
3 How nice it was
4 The clincher: would you swap your normal lunchtime sarnie for it?
5 The small print: how much it cost/how many calories, that sort of thing
First of all, we had to choose our meals from the pretty comprehensive range available. Of course, this caused all sorts of hassle, but eventually, we settled on the Spicy Mac & Meatballs, the Spicy Jerk Chicken and Coconut Rice, the Hearty Cottage Pie and the Chilli Con Carne and Potato Wedges. Here’s how we got on:
Weight Watchers Spicy Jerk Chicken and Coconut Rice
Tested by: Jim. Usual lunch: Scotch egg and a packet of crisps from the farm shop
1 How satisfying it was: ‘I’d give this an 8. It seemed like a really big portion. There’s lots of sauce and it made a decent bowlful. Definitely kept me going until dinner..’
2 How much faff (technical term) it was to make: ‘really easy. It was just a case of stabbing the film and popping it into the microwave’.
3 How nice it was: ‘really tasty, very aromatic, quite a bit of heat to this. The coconut rice is delicious and there are loads of pieces of chicken. However it did repeat on me all afternoon, so maybe not one to choose if you’re due to be in meetings’.
4 The clincher: would you swap your normal lunch for it? ‘As long as I was alone, but I’d definitely have it for dinner’
5 The small print: £2.50 (which is less than my usual dinner), and only 291 calories? Wow!
Weight Watchers Hearty Cottage Pie
Tested by: me. Usual lunch: toast, maybe scrambled egg, cereal, sometimes a cuppa and some biscuits.
1 How satisfying it was: ‘It’s a 10 from me. It’s a relatively small portion, but it’s quite filling. I actually wasn’t even hungry come dinner time.’
2 How much faff (technical term) it was to make: ‘I’m not a huge fan of microwaving so I baked mine in the oven. No hassle at all’.
3 How nice it was: ‘delicious. I love cottage pie anyway, and I found it really comforting: the mash was creamy and the filling was savoury and rich’.
4 The clincher: would you swap your normal lunch for it? ‘I never thought I’d say this but yes! It made me take a proper break and I enjoyed sitting at the table and really savouring my lunch.’
5 The small print: This one’s just £2.00 in Asda at the moment – bit of a bargain – and 328 calories (which, weirdly is roughly the same as my usual two slices of buttered toast with two eggs, according to my food app).
Weight Watchers Chilli Con Carne and Potato Wedges
Tested by: me, again.
1 How satisfying it was: ‘again, this seemed like a small portion, but I felt quite full afterwards. Had to fight the temptation to add a big blob of sour cream and some grated cheese, though.’
2 How much faff (technical term) it was to make: ‘baked in the oven again. The worst bit was suffering the delicious smell wafting through the kitchen while I was waiting for it to cook’.
3 How nice it was: ‘It needed some seasoning, but it was nice. There were loads of kidney beans, and the potato wedges made it feel really satisfying’.
4 The clincher: would you swap your normal lunch for it? ‘Yes! Might add that sour cream though – that’s not too bad is it?!’
5 The small print: This one’s just £2.00 in Asda too at the moment, and comes in at 303 calories.
The Weight Watchers lunchtime challenge – our verdict
If you’re looking to eat sensibly, these meals are a great option, especially if you’re time poor as well. We thought they’d be a great, standby healthy option for dinner as well, with loads of steamed veggies or a big salad. Perfect if you’re late home and just want something quick and tasty, and we thought it was an extra bonus that they’re all low in sugar with no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives.
We also thought that the meals – especially the curry – would be brilliant to come home to after a night out when you can be tempted to get a takeaway or eat something really unhealthy. We’ve been worried that Charlie’s not eating properly at uni, and we thought it might be an idea for him to have some of these in the fridge to rely on if he comes in hungry after an evening out.
Am I a ready meal convert? Well, probably not, but then I’m lucky enough to have the time (and the kitchen) available to make myself something. But would I seriously swap my usual dinner for a Weight Watchers ready meal? Yes, I’d definitely keep a few in the fridge for days when I just want something easy and tasty that’s nutritionally balanced too.
Massive thanks to Weight Watchers who provided us with the ready meals. This is a paid partnership, but as usual, I wouldn’t feature anything without being completely honest about my opinion.