Tuesday 1 December 2009

Little Dish children's ready meals

Little Dish - I salute you !! In a week which has seen Pierre grouchy from his latest jabs, Juliette poorly, luckily misdiagnosed with swine flu, the kids and dogs freaking out due to torrential rain and neverending thunderstorms, then to cap it all the plumbers messing up replumbing in the washing machine leaving us with no water for 18 hours, it has been fantastic to be able to go to the fridge or freezer and pull out a healthy ready-meal for the girls that is ready in 2 minutes - literally !

I admit it, I have bought ready-meals for the girls before, especially when they were smaller and I was rushing in from work without the time or energy to prepare a proper meal for them before they got overtired and whiney ! But, although they ate them, you could tell they were ready meals. They usually tasted OK-ish (probably packed full of artificial flavourings !) but they had about as much texture as eating a dead slug and the ingredients were so mashed up they were unrecognisable. Nothing like my home cooking, even if I say so myself !

Well, what amazed me when I first tried a Little Dish meal was that it really does look home made. The vegetables are recognisable and still slightly hard, not overcooked to a slushy mush. As Juliette has been under the weather, she's been off her food so she only ate about half of each meal - well, all in the name of testing (of course !), I happily polished them off. Mike tried them too and said they could do with a bit more salt, but they are designed for children so it's good for them not to be overloaded with salt, sugar and other nasties. In fact, looking on the website : "At Little Dish we know it’s not easy making good nutritious meals for your little ones day in and day out. So that’s what we do. There’s nothing in our food that you wouldn’t find in your own kitchen. We only use 100% natural ingredients and never add salt or sugar. We create every recipe in partnership with our Paediatric Dietician, and each Little Dish is taste tested by kids before we let it out of the kitchen. We work with the best suppliers we can find so you can feel good about what you're feeding your children. Our chicken and beef is free from antibiotics and growth hormones and comes from select British farms where the animals are well cared for, and all of our vegetables are tested for pesticides. In fact, Little Dish is so fresh and tasty even grown-ups have been known to tuck in!" Glad it's not only me then !

They totally reminded me of school dinners - by which I mean school dinners from long ago in the days before Jamie Oliver had to step in and ban the turkey twizzlers ! It's good, honest, healthy, meat-and-two-veg type dinners that your Granny would have lovingly cooked up from scratch. It's shop-bought food that you can give to your children -even every day of the week if you like, there's enough choice to have a different meal each time - with a totally clear conscience, knowing that they're eating fresh, healthy, balanced meals, packed full of vitamins from all the vegetables.

What's more, they totally appealed to Sophie's tastebuds - slightly less so for Juliette, but she was feeling poorly and had even turned her nose up at a chocolate bar earlier in the day ! There are a large variety of recipes available so there is something for everyone, however fussy they may be. Sophie supposedly doesn't like broccoli - well, the Pasta with Cheese, Peas and Broccoli Trees didn't take long to get hoovered up. Neither did the Cottage Pie or Chicken with Vegetables and Giant Couscous. Ever since seeing a story on the TV about someone getting a fishbone stuck in their throat and having to go to hospital, Sophie pretty much refuses to eat fish. I've manage to convince her that if the fish has been frozen, it can't hurt her - it's no worse than my Nan telling me I'd have an orange tree growing out of my bum if I swallowed the pips ! But she initially turned her nose up at the fishy recipes - especially when she spotted the warning labels on the lids, saying that although there shouldn't be any bones, parents should still be careful. Well, her resistance didn't hold out and she was soon wolfing down Fish Pie. She's told me that she wants to try Salmon and Broccoli Bake tonight - which is pretty amazing for somebody who supposedly didn't like broccoli or fish at the start of the week !

I'd just like to remind you that Sophie is 8 ! This is child-food but certainly not normal baby food. In fact, if they made a bigger, family-sized pack, I'd be happy to serve it up for the whole family from time-to-time ! Anyone over the age of 1 can tuck in.

Just a quick piece of advice - as I was rushing around like a loony, by the time the microwave had dinged - they only take 2 and a half minutes to cook from fresh, 4 and a half minutes from frozen, depending on your microwave - I'd already put all the cardboard sleeves in the recycling. Well, Sophie had noticed that there were colouring pictures inside the sleeves but it was too late to rescue them from the bin by the time she told me !

I'll definitely be filling up my freezer for when I go back to work - they will be an absolute life (and sanity) saver !

star rating : 5/5

RRP : £2.29 for 200g

You can buy Little Dish at Tesco, Waitrose and Ocado.

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