The last month has been something of a whirlwind for me, both workwise and socially. I am more than busy updating, refreshing and adding some new items to this website (more news on this later) but I’ve also had a diary to rival any socialite. Countless special birthdays (a 50th, two 60th’s and two 80th’s); a Christening, a GFW Awards judging and ceremony, and finally a house move for my daughter. Whilst great fun, it did pose a query or two over catering arrangements. I therefore thought this might be a good time to put a cook and delivery service to the test.
I have long been intrigued by the Balance Box service (it pops up on so many sites that I visit) since it offers freshly-cooked food, calorie-counted, delivered to your door, just ready to reheat or eat and so promises to be more than hassle-free. There are 2 menus to choose from a 1200 calories a day Market Menu or an 1800 calories a day Super-sized Market Menu. Both come with 3 meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and 2 snacks. I opted for the lighter and 3 day option which normally costs £71.97 (but with a subscription comes down to £59.97).
Beforehand I checked that the dishes available would be generally low in fat, low in added sugar and high in protein and so ideally suited to my bariatric eating regime.
I placed the order to arrive on a Tuesday morning and, as promised, it arrived punctually before the 10.30 am deadline. Packaged very well for safe transport it also came in recyclable pots (even the ice packs could be reused). A detailed menu and reheating instructions were included and were very easy to follow. All the dishes can be reheated in the oven, microwave or on the hob.
So what was in my 3 day, 1200 calorie Market Menu:
Breakfast Not included in this box … hopefully you will have had your breakfast before the 3 day box arrives.
Snack Tangerine and Brazil Nuts
Lunch Leek and Mozzarella Frittata It doesn’t have to be St David’s Day to eat leeks…so any excuse to munch on the onion’s coolest cousin. I enjoyed this hot (but could be eaten cold). Half a portion was heated in the microwave on FULL POWER for 2 minutes. I managed half a portion (this size is shown on the Bariatric Portion Plate) and chilled the rest for my son’s lunchbox the following day. The mix was very palatable although I would have welcomed a little more pungent seasoning in the frittata itself.
Snack Trail Bar This is Balance Box’s famous mix of fruit and nuts with natural spices and sweetness in a munch away, guilt-free bar. I wish I could prise the recipe away from them for this snack…it is truly delicious!
Dinner Chicken Laska This is free-range chicken in a delicately spiced zingy coconut type soup with extra slurpy noodles. The chicken chunks were wonderfully tender and the soupy sauce beautifully but mildly spicy. Again I just managed half a portion (heated in the microwave on FULL POWER for 2 minutes).
Breakfast Stewed Apricots and Waffle In Latin, the apricot is called ‘praecocquum’ which means early ripening peach. Stewed and then mixed with yogurt in this dish it makes the perfect early morning breakfast dish. The apricots were not overly sweet and they tasted amazing with the chewy waffle wafer. I ate mine cold but they could have been served warm. I managed the whole portion myself.
Snack A medium banana and a few raw pumpkin seeds.
Lunch Smoked Trout Salad A most nutritious salad of carrot, baby cooked potatoes, baby spinach, flaked smoked trout, silken tofu and pine kernels with a spicy dressing made with olive oil, lemon juice, raisins, cumin seeds and ground coriander. This was a fabulously tasty salad with plenty of protein-rich smoked trout and a good coriander flavour. Managed just half a portion…Mr B had the rest with his lunchtime sandwich wrap and declared it moreish!
Snack Peanut Bar A spin on their classic muesli bar this is Balance Box’s peanut butter variation…and very tasty too.
Dinner Glamorgan Patties and Colcannon Mustard Mash This is a Celtic influenced dish of a cheesy bean patties served with a mustard infused colcannon mash with green beans. This was a surprisingly good dish with a well-seasoned bean patty, hearty and flavoursome potato dish and crisp green beans. Again I only managed half a portion but chilled the remainder then reheated in the mircowave for a supper dish for a family member home late from work.
Breakfast Prune and Vanilla Bircher Not the best looking of the breakfast dishes supplied but certainly the favourite! This prune flavoured oat and yogurt mixture was wonderfully creamy and the chopped pecan nuts were a wonderfully crunchy addition. Ate the whole portion comfortably and enjoyed it thoroughly. I ate it cold but it could have been served warm if liked.
Snack Plum and some raw sunflower seeds.
Lunch Hearty Vegetable Soup This was slightly disappointing…the promised hearty thick soup packed with beans and vegetables just didn’t deliver on heartiness or flavour for me. Pleased to have the oat cake for more sustenance. Managed the whole portion however but was pleased I had an afternoon snack to look forward to.
Snack Trail Bar which was very much enjoyed.
Dinner Mushroom Stroganoff This slow-cooked Russian-style dish was made with portabella, button, chestnut and oyster mushrooms. Mixed with shredded cabbage, green beans and quinoa it was a great tasting dish. I managed the whole portion (maybe due to my light lunch).
Breakfast Roasted Apple Granola A very good mix of crisp eating apples with low-fat natural yogurt and granola muesli. I easily managed the whole portion. This was a grab and go breakfast for me since I was heading out on the road for my weekend away and it was most welcome at the halfway rest point.
I have thoroughly enjoyed and thrived well on my 3 day trial of the Balance Box range of complete meals and intend to book another soon from www.balancebox.com I might even enlist the help of a friend to share the package with me, especially for the main meal options. It certainly made my busy time less stressful and kept my calorie intake stable. It also meant I stayed well clear of fast-food or convenience style meals (which invariably would have cost me more in terms of money and 1lbs gained).
To help with this, the kind people at Balance Box have given me AND YOU the special offer of £10 OFF any purchase. This must be used before the 31st July 2013. Simply quote the code BC10 at the checkout to enjoy the special saving.