Wednesday 13 January 2016

Kids' Kitchen free-from kids' ready meals review

In an ideal world, we would all sit down to a nutritious homecooked meal at the end of each day but sometimes, after a particularly busy day at work, that just ain't happening ! Kids' Kitchen are a gluten-free, dairy-free and wheat-free range of meals designed for children aged 2 to 9 that are absolutely perfect for those days. Launched in September 2015, they are the UK’s first range of allergy free meals for children and they are nutritionally balanced, free from artificial colours and additives and low in salt with no added sugar. There are eight recipes available and we've been trying them all out (and when I say we, I really mean we - even the grown-ups tucked in and thought they were tasty !)

The first one we tried was Sausage Casserole with Root Vegetables - a mix of lightly spiced gluten-free pork and leek sausage, carrot, swede and red peppers in a tomato and paprika sauce with roasted diced potatoes. The 250g pack provides 210 calories and 9.8g of fats, of which 3.8g saturates. I thought this would be the Madhouse kids' favourite but they weren't too sure about the taste of the sausages. I tried it and thought it was very nice though !

Cottage Pie is another recipe that the Madhouse kids are familiar with, but this one is topped with Sweet Potato Mash so they looked at the orange thatch dubiously.

Once we dug in and discovered the mince in rich gravy with peas and carrots, they were won over though and devoured the whole lot ! The 250g pack contains 173 calories and 2.5g of fat, of which 1.3g saturates.

Beef Lasagne was another top choice for the kids, who wanted to start with the dishes that they are most familiar with. It didn't look overly appetising when I took it out of the oven, but once I dug in with a spoon, it looked much tastier.

It's made using minced British beef in a bolognaise sauce with gluten-free lasagne sheets and a dairy-free Bechamel sauce. I'll be honest - it didn't get as positive a reaction as my usual homemade lasagne - but I don't use a dairy or gluten-free recipe so it's not really a fair test. We thought it was a bit dry but I have no idea how you can make a dairy-free bechamel so that's probably why. Each pack contains 220 calories and 6.5g of fat, of which 3.5g saturates.

Next was the Moroccan Chicken - chicken breast with chickpeas, butternut squash, sweet potato, courgette, red peppers and apricots in a Moroccan sauce with quinoa, brown rice and lentils. This is a lovely mild, sweet dish and the kids loved the flavour, even if they weren't totally sure about the quinoa ! Each pack contains 168 calories and 1.5g fat of which 0.8g saturates.

We tried two other chicken dishes which both got a thumbs up. Caribbean Chicken (chicken breast with mango, red peppers and sweet potato in a jerk sauce with brown rice - 206 calories and 3g of fat, of which 2.3g saturates) and Chicken Korma (chicken breast with chickpeas, peppers, sweet potato and apricots in a coconut korma sauce with brown rice - 218 calories and 3.5g of fat, of which 2.5g saturates). Madhouse Daddy tucked into these ones and thought they were both very nice, although they could have done with bigger chnks of chicken and a bit more seasoning. (I had to remind him they were designed for kids !)

The final two were for me - I got the ones that nobody else really wanted but they actually tasted fantastic and I think they'd be my top choice, which is surprising as they aren't the ones I would have chosen intially. The Salmon & Cod Pie with Sweet Potato Mash (with sweetcorn and peas) tasted amazing with a sprinkle of sumac (180 calories and 5g of fat, of which 3g saturates) and the Lentil & Butternut Squash Pie (lentils and butternut squash with peas and peppers in gravy with a sweet potato mash) was a bit mushy but also tasted lovely with a sprinkle of garlic peper (173 calories and 0.5g of fat of which 0.5g saturates).

As the kids couldn't decide which one they wanted to taste, I served up several (shared between them) with rice. The grown-ups also ate one (or two if we were really hungry !) with rice and we all found them very satisfying.

I love the way they taste homemade and, looking through the list of ingredients, there are absolutely no hidden nasties and nothing you wouldn't find in your own kitchen. The meals are all kid friendly while introducing slightly exotic flavours and recipes that even appeal to grown-ups. I'd be tempted to buy these as a low fat, low calorie lunchtime meal to throw in the microwave at work (they can also be reheated in a conventional oven and can be frozen), but looking at the grown-up Kirsty's range, there are lots of healthy options available there too which need a closer look. Slow Cooked Beef with Celeriac Mash (307 calories), Malaysian Butternut Squash Curry with Brown Basmati Rice (348 calories), Thai Chilli Chicken with Rice Noodles (296 calories) and Pork and Herb Sausages with Sweet Potato Mash (276 calories) all sound like tasty but diet-friendly options so the kids may get to keep their Kids' Kitchen meals after all !

Kids' Kitchen meals are available exclusively at Asda and, given the high quality of the ingredients and the incredibly healthy nature of the dishes, I was expecting them to be really expensive. They actually cost £1.95 each and are currently on offer at 3 for £5 which I think is great value. I went to check out the grown-up versions too and they are £3 each or two for £4 so it's definitely a great time to fill the freezer for some stress-free meals on manic days !

star rating : 4.5/5

Disclosure : We received the products in order to write an honest review.

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