We’ve all read the stories about celebrities who have personal chefs to cook every healthy morsel for them; personal trainers who refuse to let them off the power plate until they have strengthened their core for hours; and stylists who make sure they look beautiful each time they leave the house. We’ve probably all dreamed about having those things ourselves: helping our lives run a little bit more easily; helping us to look a bit more polished.
Well now you can now emulate one aspect of that celebrity lifestyle by having a personally tailored meal plan of freshly prepared food delivered to your door every morning with Total Diet Food (TDF) … as long as you live within the M25.
I trialled the service for five days, and first spoke to a nutritional expert from TDF who put together a plan to help me meet my health and fitness goals. I provided my food preferences: explaining that I wanted to lose a few pounds (more than a few if I’m honest, but I knew I wouldn’t be seeing miracles in five days!), and hated mushrooms, rocket and raw tomatoes; then I had to answer some questions about my lifestyle and provide my delivery address, and we were off. I was promised that on Monday morning I’d start my TDF adventure with a coolbox delivered to my doorstep by around 6.30am, filled with three meals and two snacks, amounting to a daily allowance of 1,500 calories.
On Sunday night I found it strange to not have to prepare a packed lunch for the next day, or plan what to have for dinner the following evening, but it was nice to have some extra time to relax before the start of a busy working week. I opened the front door with enthusiasm on Monday morning, and my coolbox revealed a breakfast of yoghurt and granola with fresh pineapple; a morning snack of apricots and hazelnuts; a superfood salad with chicken and balsamic dressing for lunch; broad beans dip with crudites for my afternoon snack; and cod and lentil pie with veg for dinner.
Everything was freshly made and generously portioned so I finished each meal feeling satisfied. Ben Davidson, who runs TDF, had explained to me that I would probably be surprised by the amount of food I would be eating on a calorie-controlled diet, and I didn’t believe him. I consider myself well educated about food and already eating a balanced diet, so I though I knew what to expect. But I was wrong: each meal was much larger than I expected and filled with filling, healthy and nutritious ingredients. I wasn’t hungry enough in the morning to eat my snack, so started to save it for ‘pudding’ in the evening as I do tend to crave something sweet after dinner.
The homemade granola in the breakfast on day one was especially nice, and I hoped I’d be having it for breakfast again the following day. Variety is the spice of life though, so every day saw me try a new dish for every meal. Breakfasts during the week included eggs and salmon with rye bread, oat pancakes with fruit and yoghurt, and roasted apple and strawberry oatmeal. Lunches were always salads but with various leaves and toppings including grilled halloumi and sweet potato, a roast trout fillet, and spiced chickpeas. Morning snacks were fruity and nutty; afternoon snacks were generally raw vegetables, and I never felt peckish.
Evening meals each came in recyclable microwaveable containers with heating instructions, and plastic cutlery and paper napkins were also provided daily so I didn’t even have to do any washing up. Each night I had a different meal: lamb tagine with couscous, chicken and aubergine bake, roasted cod fillet, and a turkey Thai-style curry.
Without exception the meals were clearly made with good quality ingredients and were freshly prepared (sourced, cooked and prepared the day before, and delivered in the early hours). All the meals were very wholesome and although a couple were not entirely to my taste (spiced chickpea salad for lunch did nothing for me, and I discovered one morning at breakfast that I was not a huge fan of avocado), TDF encourages you to regularly provide feedback on your meals so that they can be tailored towards your preferences.
Averaging at around £30 per day, this service is far from cheap. But as a busy office worker who usually eats a packed lunch at my desk, it was a fantastic way for me to reclaim some time for myself. I didn’t have to prepare dinner each night, or packed lunch for the following day. I had no need to pop to the supermarket to buy muesli and yoghurt for breakfast, or on the way home to grab some missing ingredients for dinner.
Because I am so organised (and possibly a little bit OCD), I plan my meals a week in advance, shop for groceries online and budget accordingly. If, however, I was someone who went out to buy breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, then I am not sure I’d be spending much less than £20 per day on that. When you look at it like that: £30 a day to have all of your meals and snacks sourced, prepared and delivered to you each day … well it doesn’t seem quite so expensive.
As an enthusiastic cook who loves to potter about in the kitchen, this kind of plan doesn’t really appeal to me: I like thinking about food most (all) of the time, and I find it relaxing to cook. But for the five days that I trialled the plan I felt like I was on a little holiday from the kitchen, and I really enjoyed it.
If you have a busy lifestyle and don’t have the time or inclination to cook, or if you want to follow an enforced diet to lose some weight for a special occasion, a service like TDF could be an option for you. During my five day trial I lost 1.5lbs and felt less bloated than normal (I suspect that’s because any oats and noodles were gluten free, and the food plan was relatively low on carbs), and I never felt hungry. I was however craving a treat by the end of the experience, and probably blew all the good work by indulging in a champagne afternoon tea on day six!
But you know what? I am allowed to do that as I am no celebrity. I must say that living a bit of the lifestyle for a few days was a great treat.
You can find out more about Total Diet Food by visiting their website. They currently have an introductory offer of five days for £135.