Food & Nutrition

Are the Charlie Bigham meals healthy? We take an honest look at how good these ready meals are for you

Published by Finn Hayden

Most of us generally accept that we're buying ready meals because they're convenient and quicker to consume, not because they're going to be very tasty or particularly healthy. But there are a few ready meal brands which are trying to buck this trend, with the Charlie Bighams brand emerging as a leader in the premium ready meal category.

However, although there is definitely no denying that the Charlie Bighams meals have a premium taste (and a premium price to match), are they actually healthy? Well as with so many of these questions, it depends on a few different factors. Let's get into it:

What factors are there to consider when considering how healthy these meals are?

There are a number of factors to consider when trying to assess how healthy the Charlie Bigham meals are, but we think the 3 most important are what meal you look at, the ingredients used, and the nutritional information. Let's look at both in a bit more detail:

Charlie Bigham
Thai green chicken curry Charlie Bigham

Ingredients

The Charlie Bigham's range of ready meals includes everything from hearty meat-based dishes to lighter vegetarian dishes, so it's hard to give a single answer to the question of how healthy these ready meals are as they're all quite varied in terms of ingredients. But one thing which all of the meals have in common is that they're made with fresher ingredients than most ready meal brands, which feels like a huge advantage but might not actually be.
 
Although research shows that fresh food can often retain Vitamin C better than frozen or canned food, it seems that some foods actually retain more nutrients when they are frozen or canned, such as broccoli and blueberries. So although the fact that these ready meals from Charlie Bigham are made with fresher ingredients might feel like it makes them healthier than your standard ready meal, we're not convinced this is the case.

The image below shows the ingredients in the Thai Green Chicken curry from the Charlie Bigham range, which is quite useful to look at when trying to determine how healthy this meal is. As you can see, there is nothing artificial in the ingredients list, but high-fat foods like milk and cream are among the first ingredients listed, as well as demerara sugar.

Charlie Bigham ingredients

Nutrition

Another thing to note about the Charlie Bigham's meals is that part of what makes them so tasty is that most of the meals are packed with richer ingredients than you'll find in other ready meals (which is also partly what makes them so expensive). This includes ingredients like cream and red wine, which give the dishes lots of flavour but also add lots more calories. For example, the fish pie from the Charlie Bigham range (pictured) contains milk as the 2nd ingredient listed, cream as the 5th ingredient listed, and butter as the 6th ingredient listed. Consequently, this fish pie from the Charlie Bigham range is high in calories at 838 calories per pack.
Charlie Bigham fish pie
Looking at other meals within the Charlie Bigham range, the Vegetable Lasagna contains 117kcal per 100g. Compare this to the Vegetable Lasagna ready meal from Tesco which admittedly isn't as nice, but does contain 32 calories fewer per 100g. We were also surprised to see that the Charlie Bigham Vegetable Lasagna contained 0.66g of salt per 100g, which is almost double what the Tesco Vegetable Lasagna ready meal contained (0.37g per 100g).

 

Having said that, both of these ready meals contain exactly the same amount of fat (3.1g per 100g) and the Charlie Bigham vegetable lasagna contained almost double the amount of protein compared to the Tesco Vegetable Lasagna (5g vs 3g).
The Chicken Korma curry from the Charlie Bigham range (pictured) is one of the highest calorie and highest fat meals in the entire Charlie Bigham range - it contains 176 calories per 100g, as well as 9.4g of fat per 100g. But actually, we were surprised to see that the Waitrose Chicken Korma contains more fat, with 10.1g of fat per 100g.
Chicken korma curry from Charlie Bigham

Final thoughts - are Charlie Bigham meals healthy?

We do feel that if your primary concern is to have a great-tasting ready meal which will rarely disappoint, you can't go wrong with a meal from the Charlie Bigham range. However, as you can see from the information above, the Charlie Bigham ready meals tend to be higher in calories and salt compared to supermarket own-brand ready meals due to the rich ingredients they use.

 

Let us know if you've tried any of the Charlie Bigham meals and what you think about our article in the comments below!

Finn is the editor of You Well and has been writing about travel, health, and more for over 10 years.

5 Comments

  • Anna yates

    delicious Charlie Binghams meals Fish pie Amazing. my husband likes the Lasagna and we both like the Macoroni cheese xall good helped a lot when unable to go out or feel too tired to do a meal at 82 bothof us

    • Sylvia Andreou

      Love Charlie Bingham meals good quality ingredients.I especially like the Indian dishes usually have on Saturday night as a treat.I buy the 1person size which is perfect (not stingy)however I do think they are a bit expensive and if I can get a meal that’s reduced price I enjoy it even more

      • Margaret McAlpine

        I love these meals but find the portion sizes too big. I either spread a meal for 2 people over 3 helpings or for 1 person over 2 helpings, but with extra veg.

  • Camilla Roberts

    Charlie’s meals are a God send I buy 3 a week halve them between myself and my mother,
    I have gone off cooking as my mother tastes buds have gone and she comments on all the
    Meals I make her, she 97 and had a stroke 2 yrs ago is of sound mind. But very critical when it comes to food.
    Charlie I raise my hat thankyou . I love your curries, also my husband eats very little and shares his dinner with the dog!!!!! So what a waste of my time cooking!!!
    I recommend Charlies meals thankyou Charlie!.

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