Based in the west of Ireland, Clean Cut Meals have started delivering meals nationally
It's 8pm - you've just rolled in the door after potentially nine hours hammering at your desk. Maybe you went to the gym; maybe you bailed so you could be home in time for Love Island.
The thought of having to stretch your already limited mental and physical to cook a meal is traumatising to say the least. And takeaways are starting to take a toll on your waistline - and your wallet.
Meal delivery services are on the up in Ireland. Though not an entirely new concept, there's been an increased demand observed for convenient ready-made meals that are nutritionally sound.
Some companies go the extra mile, offering tailor-made menus depending on your level of fitness and physical activity.
Others, like DropChef, give you the ingredients and the recipes, but there's still a level of effort involved.
Clean Cut Meals positions itself as a 'meal prep' company. The clue's in the name - 'meal prep' involved preparing all your meals for the week ahead of time.
The company very kindly sent me a week's worth of meals to review for Newstalk.com
"Clean Cut Meals offer a range of different meal plans to suit your lifestyle and what you want to achieve. Always delivered with a smile, we make it fun and easy to live a healthy lifestyle. So put away the pots and pans and let us do the work.
"Clean Cut meals is focused on getting you the results you are looking for, with meal plans devised to support fat loss or muscle gain, Your dream body is just a couple of clicks away!
"Clean Cut Meals focus on having a varied menu so it is much more sustainable to maintain. We don’t believe in strict diets and counting calories, our menu is carefully crafted so that it is always satisfying and never boring. Packed with vitamins, minerals and nutrients, clean cut meals will improve your overall performance day in and day out."
The company offers six different plans based on your goals:
You can also add snacks and juices to your plan as add-ons as you see fit. Breakfast costs €15, juices cost between €15 - €25 and protein balls cost €10.
In terms of quantity, you have the option of ordering a week's worth of meals or a month's worth. Clean Cut Meals will also introducing a weekly recurring option in the future.
The menu's also regularly, so you won't get the same meals every time.
I initially thought I was sent The Fat Loss Plan, having not specified which plan I was particularly interested in.
But after close inspection of the meals, I'm pretty sure I was just sent a taster of the recipes offered, as well as a variety of breakfasts and snacks.
My delivery came a day late - no fault of the company's, but rather the courier service which they use. However, this did mean I was unable to eat a selection of the meals because they had passed the 'use-by' date.
None of the breakfasts came labelled either, and while it was fairly obvious that they were all muesli, there was no nutritional information given. For someone tracking macros/calories/sugar, this could be an issue.
The meals came in an ice-packed box, so all of the meals were fresh upon arrival (though a little battered - again, I'm blaming the courier service).
Each meal has the carbohydrates, protein and fats listed in grams on the front. (It should be noted that The Fat Loss Plan contains no carbs).
They come packaged in black, microwavable trays, wrapped in plastic. To cook, you can either put them on a plate and put them in the oven for an average of 20 minutes, or microwave them on high for 4 minutes until piping hot.
Straight off the bat, the convenience is the biggest plus for me. I find it tricky enough constantly preparing lunches that by the time I'm home and dry, I usually end up making something extremely basic for dinner. So having proper meals ready to go in 4 minutes was great.
The service also offers a lot of variety - one day I was eating chicken in an orange sauce with mixed greens, the next it was turkey lasagne. I'm a gal who needs a good routine, but not a boring one, so this is ideal.
The breakfasts were probably the highlight for me. Initially, I thought the portions were outrageously small, but I think that's just because, as an Irish person, portion control is a foreign concept.
All of the muesli pots were deliciously sweet without tasting artificial - particularly the one flavoured with vanilla bean.
I also got a pot of fruit, and scrambled egg with chorizo - however, I was extremely wary about reheating the eggs for some reason, so I was unable to trial them.
All of the food is also really fresh - the proof is in the eating with this one.
The meals, however, were significantly hit and miss. I found the quasi-international dishes - the chicken teriyaki, for example - were the most flavoursome.
Others were either dry or bland - the previously mentioned orange chicken left me with dry mouth (NEVER a good look).
Some of the labelling was inconsistent too - some meals would say they included vegetables, with not so much as a whisper of spinach to be seen.
Considering my weekly food budget is already extremely low, probably not.
While I did enjoy the service and I don't think it's outrageously expensive - it's well worth the money for people who are potentially working full-time but also looking to maintain their fitness to a high level - it's probably too costly for part-time 'athletes' like myself.
I also fully understand that price-point reflects the work that goes into the service - you're talking preparing different meals, packaging, labelling, as well as delivering.
I also found the quality varied too wildly - only having two decent tasting meals a week takes a psychological toll (me? Hyperbolic? Never).
It's important to note that unfortunately, I did not get to try all the meals sent to me, because of the delayed delivery. Perhaps if I'd had the chance, I would have stumbled upon something great.
What I would repurchase is the breakfasts - if you're like me and believe that breakfast can be eaten at any time of the day, you could slot those muesli pots in anywhere.
The protein balls were also really tasty and super fresh, and again, not so artificially sweet.
If you love training, but hate meal prep, undoubtedly Clean Cut Meals is the company for you. The quick cook time, varied menu (which changes every month) will be a big hit with more enthusiastic gym goers.
Clean Cut Meals is a relatively young company, having only established itself in the West two years ago. That means there's a lot of room for improvement in the future.