Best microwave meals for all dietary requirements

The ideal solution for a busy day.

Microwave meal

by Ellen Kinsey |
Updated on

In the hustle and bustle of modern life, the best microwave meals have become a saving grace for many. Whether you're in the office, on a quick lunch break, or simply on the go, these convenient meals are a godsend in a pinch. They're quick, easy, and require minimal effort, making them the perfect solution for those days when time is of the essence. They also cater to various dietary requirements, from vegan to gluten-free. Plus, if you need to upgrade or get a new appliance, be sure to check out our guide to the best microwaves.

Microwave meals have come a long way from the stodgy, preservative-laden dishes that were once in the ready-meal aisle. Today, they offer various options catering to all cuisines and dietary needs. Whether you're craving your favourite vegan recipes like a hearty lentil dhal, gluten-intolerant in need of a pasta fix, or a meat-lover looking for a quick and nourishing meal, there's a microwave meal out there for you. Microwaves are also affordable appliances that are a game changer in everything kitchen - if you are in the market for one, then there are plenty of the best microwaves under £100.

Best microwave meals at a glance:

• Best vegan meal: Mindful Chef Black Chickpea Korma  view on Waitrose• Best vegetarian meal: Sainsbury's Vintage Cheddar Macaroni Cheese Ready Meal For 1 – view on Sainsbury's
• Best meal with meat: Waitrose Italian Chicken & Mushroom Risotto – view on Waitrose

While many are packed with wholesome ingredients and are a great source of essential nutrients, others can be high in sugar, salt, and unhealthy saturated fats. It's a good idea to read the labels and make informed choices. Look out for meals that are low in sodium, free from artificial preservatives, and packed with vegetables and proteins. Thankfully, there's a growing trend towards healthier, more mindful microwave meals, so it is easier to find options that are both tasty and good for you.

So, whether you have the best small microwave ready to go or are a vegan, gluten-intolerant, or simply someone who enjoys good food, there's a microwave meal out there for you. We have noted in the specifications any allergens in case you need to check on dietary requirements. So without further ado - let's take stuck in.

Best microwave meals

Best for vegans and vegetarians

Best vegan meal

A unique take on a classic, this black chickpea dish is made with a creamy korma sauce and rice. Gluten-free and vegan, it's a flavorful and healthful meal option suitable for many dietary requirements.

Best vegan and gluten free meal

A heartwarming blend of chickpeas, peanuts, and red rice, this vegan and gluten-free dish is a culinary journey to West Africa. Bursting with protein and fibre, it's a healthful choice that doesn't compromise on flavour.

Best vegetarian meal

A vegetarian dish that combines soft paneer cheese with a medley of peppers, onions, and a spicy jalfrezi sauce. This meal is served with aromatic saffron pilau rice, and it's a flavorful feast for veggie lovers.

Best mac'n'cheese

A classic reinvented hearty treat, this ready-made mac and cheese dish is a creamy indulgence. With vintage cheddar cheese, macaroni, and a velvety sauce, it's a treat that can be ready in minutes.

Best microwave meals with meat

Best overall

A creamy risotto made with tender chicken, earthy mushrooms, and a rich sauce. It's a taste of Italy at your convenience - with zero food prep required.

Best thai meal

A symphony of flavours, this ready-made Thai Red Curry is a quick and easy meal solution for those craving Thai food. With chicken, red peppers, and a Thai-inspired sauce, it's a gluten-free treat that can be ready in minutes.

Best meal for two

A classic comfort food, Charlie Bigham's Lasagne is a ready-made dish that brings the taste of Italy to your table. With layers of beef, rich cheese, and tangy tomato sauce, it's a gluten-free feast that can be oven-ready in just 30 minutes.

Best pasta meal

Indulge in the luxurious taste of Tesco's Finest Creamy Chicken Pasta. This ready-made dish features tender chicken pieces, and mushrooms surrounded in a velvety sauce and can be prepared in mere minutes in the microwave.

Best hearty meal

A British classic - if you're looking for the comforting taste of home with Tesco's Bangers & Mash, then you're in for a treat. This dish features succulent British pork sausages bathed in a sweet onion gravy, served on top of a bed of creamy mashed potato. This dish is a warming, satisfying classic.

Best rice based meal

Tesco's Finest Chicken Prawn & Chorizo Paella is a dish that combines paprika-marinated chicken, king prawns, smoky chorizo, rice, red peppers, onion, garlic, and spices for an authentic Spanish taste. It's a feast - ready to serve in just a few minutes.

Best indulgent meal

If you are in the mood for a rich, creamy dinner, then Tesco's Finest Spaghetti Carbonara will hit the spot. This ready-made dish features spaghetti pasta in a cream and cheese sauce, topped with smoked pancetta, Pecorino medium-fat hard cheese, and a sprinkle of parsley.

Best dairy-free meal

A seafood delight, this fish curry combines cod with creamy coconut milk and a rich sauce. Gluten-free, this flavorful meal is perfect in a pinch.

Best gluten-free meal

A dish that brings the flavours of Southeast Asia to your table. With chicken in a rich peanut sauce, and black rice, this gluten-free dish can be oven-ready in just 30 minutes. A takeaway treat for a fraction of the price.

Best gourmet Italian meal

A hearty cannelloni dish made with beef, pork, ragu sauce, and a creamy béchamel sauce - this high-quality ready meal calls in all the flavours of Italy that you know and love.

Our Verdict: Best microwave meals

The top-rated microwave meal for vegans and vegetarians was the Mindful Chef Black Chickpea Korma - this plant-based, refined sugar-free meal is perfect for all dietary requirements, even gluten-free. In terms of the best microwave meal that contains meat, we would recommend the Waitrose Italian Chicken & Mushroom Risotto - which has 37 positive reviews and is office microwave friendly. As much as we we love a fish curry - it's not always the best option for the communal microwave.


Are microwave meals healthy?

Microwave meals can be both healthy and unhealthy, depending on the ingredients and nutritional content. Some are high in sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats, while others are more balanced and nutritious. It's important to read the nutritional information on the packaging to make a choice that aligns with your food values.

What does microwave safe mean?

If you choose to use plastics, stick with those labelled "microwave-safe". Also, try not to let the plastic wrap touch your food during heating. If you're wary, use glass or ceramic dishes marked "heatproof" or "microwave-safe." All microwavable meals will contain microwave-safe packaging but if you would prefer to reheat it in a bowl, that is a good option too.

Microwave safety and care tips

As well as keeping your microwave clean, here are some safety and care tips to keep your microwave in optimal working condition:

• Only use microwave-safe containers, dishes, and tableware. These are usually made from ceramic, glass or plastic.

• Never place metal inside a microwave.

• Don’t place sealed containers inside the microwave – make sure food is vented so steam can escape preventing the food from exploding and inflicting damage.

• Make sure to keep any vents clear.

• If in any doubt, consult the manufacturer’s instruction manual.

If you are requiring a new microwave, here is our guide to which microwave would suit your needs best.

Ellen Kinsey is a Senior Health & Wellness Product Writer for A Modern Kitchen, specialising in sustainable living and healthy cooking. She lives and breathes all things food, travel and wellness.

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