Diet Chef review – Losing half a stone in 4 weeks

Find out what our reviewer thought of Diet Chef, plus the offers and meals you could enjoy.

Chicken-Tikka-Masala-editorial

by Bryony Firth-bernard |

Diet Chef is a meal delivery service with aim of helping you to lose weight through a calorie controlled diet. The meals are pre-prepared and delivered to your door, with Diet Chef doing all the stressful calorie counting for you.

Diet Chef overview

The basic premise is that you calculate how many calories you should consume to sensibly lose weight (using the Body Mass Index measurer on the website), then Diet Chef sends you a hamper packed with breakfast, lunches and dinners plus snacks to help you achieve it. The pouches and ready meals do not need chilling as they have been specially cooked at a high temperature to enable them to be kept in a cupboard.

The three meals plus snack add up to 1,200 calories. Depending on your weight you get extra calories to spend as you wish. The hamper does not include veg/fruit or dairy - these have to be bought separately - and should only be eaten within your calorie allowance (in my case 120 calories/day for veg). Some meals contain something starchy, eg pasta carbonara/lasagne, but not all of them, so you do have to plan in advance if you are going to have a filling/interesting dinner.

Pros

• Learn about portion control

• Good for weight loss

• Pre-made, quick and convenient

• Option to swap meals if not happy with them

Cons

• Don’t learn how to create healthy meals

• No veg, fruit or dairy included

• Not all meals tasted great

• Expensive

Key features

• Over 70 portion and calorie controlled meals and snacks to choose from

• Get your breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for each day

• Either 4, 8 or 12-week plan available

• Pause when you want

• Free standard delivery

• 14 day money back guarantee

Testing Diet Chef

A typical Diet Chef 1,200 calories meal plan

Breakfast: Strawberry porridge (very yummy)

Snack: Cranberry protein bar (moreish)

Lunch: Carrot and Coriander soup (filling)

Dinner: Chilli Con Carne (no rice included)

... plus rice/veg/fruit (within allowance)

The leaflet which comes with the hamper recommends 5 portions of fruit or veg a day plus 2 dairy (eg skim milk, low-fat yog) but all this had to come out of my 120 calories, which I found wasn’t actually possible.

Rice: 60g serving/63 calories

Skim milk: 250ml: 83 calories

Total calories consumed: 1346 (when including the 1,200 cal meals) - so I was over my allowance without including any fruit or veg. Even without the rice there's only 60 calories left - enough for 1 nectarine.

How tasty were the meals?

I would give 10/10 to the breakfasts – a decent 40g portion of porridge or granola and a good selection of muesli bars to grab and go.

For lunch there is a huge range of satisfying soups, sent in pouches for heating in the microwave – my personal favourite was Carrot and Butterbean, but they were all filling.

Less appetising, I found, were the pasta and bulgar wheat lunch pots, to which you add hot water. The contents is dried then expands with the addition of hot water, a good idea in theory but a bit powdery even when the water is absorbed – I didn’t find they filled me up, either.

Three choices of meal replacement milkshake are also available, but these weren't for me.

Dinner – again a large range, all in a ready-meal type tray, requiring just 2-3 minutes cooking time in the microwave.

Thumbs up: the meat lasagne which was tasty and filling enough to only be served with a small salad, and the Pasta Carbonara.

Thumbs down: I was not at all keen on the Beef Meatballs which I found were dry and tasteless and came in a dark-coloured sauce without much flavour that was supposed to be tomato. With this meal especially I felt I could prepare something much tastier myself, and I am by no means a fabulous cook.

Diet Chef customer service

I found customer services very helpful but they are only contactable within working hours so any weekend questions have to wait – a bit annoying if you’ve had the box but don’t quite understand the details of the plan, as I experienced. There is a forum on the Diet Chef website where members can help, but I felt the lack of visible advice made it feel a little unstructured; I felt I was just buying a product rather than a bespoke service.

I rang up on a couple of occasions to choose different meals and to ask how I was supposed to track my calories/weight. I would have expected to find a comprehensive weight tracker in my account area but was told I needed to download an app to my phone (My Fitness Pal) which is not specific to Diet Chef. There was no information on the Diet Chef website explaining this.

It was only at this stage, when I was inputting my calories, that I discovered that fruit and veg were not part of the calorie allowance– on the leaflet it says you can add in your 5 a day but it could be a lot clearer that you are expected to eek out your calorie allowance for something that hardly feels a treat, making even a rice cake a decision that has to be taken carefully.

Does Diet Chef work?

I lost half a stone in 4 weeks and you can’t argue with that! I was 100% committed but I did feel the need to supplement with monkey nuts and the odd rice cake to bulk it out a bit. I also decided that if I had a nectarine, for example, the benefit of eating it outweighed the calorie implications even if I had already had my calorie allowance.

Final thoughts

Whether this is the diet plan for you depends very much upon your personal taste – we all like some foods more than others and that applies here too. There were lots of different chicken curry options and I ordered quite a few, but sadly the chicken tasted overcooked and tough – perhaps a result of the high temperature cooking. The mince-based meals (except the meatballs) were much more pleasant. The facility to swap meals is available – so if you find you’re not keen on something that’s not a problem. All you have to do is call the nice people at customer services.

Having to add in extra veg, starchy foods, milk etc increases the food bill and the plan itself is not cheap. I’m actually looking forward to cooking again with fresh ingredients – but I am at least aware of how much should be on my plate, which will help me lose more weight in the future.

FAQ

How much is Diet Chef?

This depends on the length of plan you choose, whether you choose the ‘core’ (contains meat) or vegetarian plan and whether you’re male or female. Here’s a breakdown of the prices and different plans:

Core plan for women

• 4 weeks - £245

• 8 weeks - £219

• 12 weeks - £199

Core plan for men

• 4 weeks - £275

• 8 weeks - £249

• 12 weeks - £299

Vegetarian plan for women

• 4 weeks - £239

• 8 weeks - £189

• 12 weeks - £179

Vegetarian plan for men

• 4 weeks - £269

• 8 weeks - £219

• 12 weeks - £209

For more information and the latest money-saving offers, visit Diet Chef.

What are ambient meals?

Also known as ‘shelf-stable meals', are meals that can be safely stored at room temperature for use before their best-before date.

The reason they can be stored this way is because either their ingredients are naturally stable at room temperature or because the meal has been prepared or packaged in a special way.

Can I choose my own meals?

Yes! Once you start the buying process on Diet Chef you’re given the option to select each meal within your plan.

Are there vegetarian options?

Yes. There’s vegetarian options for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.

Do you need to use a microwave to heat the meals?

This is the most convenient way to heat up the meals but you can also open the pouches and heat in a pan on a conventional stove.

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