FreeFrom ready meals – a quick run down…

Ready meals are usually off limits for people with coeliac disease or allergies and if you have more than one allergy or even multiple then you’ve had it. When you’re allergic to all the things food manufacturers put into sauces and soups you might as well just give up. However there are few really tasty and totally freefrom options out for those evenings when you really can’t face cooking.

Leftover heaven

The first idea is one you’ve probably already thought of, make too much of some meals and freeze them in handy portion sized containers. Then when the rest of the family are planning a lazy ready-meal supper all you need to do is defrost and reheat. Do this with soup, casseroles, freeze portions of meat so you can throw them into a quick stir fry. If you can’t eat tomato, make your own freefrom red sauce and freeze in handy bags for using in pasta and chilli. This obviously falls flat when you’ve used up all your frozen supplies.

NEW freefrom curry pouches from ilumi

From the company who make Look what we found? which already has some healthy products which are free from some allergens, this new range from Tanfield Foods is aimed specifically at people who have to avoid gluten and dairy but also want something 100% natural and don’t want to compromise on taste. Most of all they are healthy quick meals that are packed full of goodness and nothing nasty. No additives, no preservatives and no flavourings. Nothing in there that you wouldn’t recognise and eat.

ilumi Chicken Cardamom curry

ilumi Chicken Cardamom curry

Best of all? I’ve tried the cardamom chicken and it’s just so tasty, it’s as good as any curry I’ve had in a restaurant. It comes in a pouch and just needs heating in the microwave or in a pan. I always prefer to heat in a pan because then I can cook some rice at the same time.

I had this last time the husband-who-can-eat-everything ordered a take-away and I really didn’t feel I was missing out at all; it’s full of flavour and has lots of juicy chunks of chicken. He tried a bit and was impressed with the depth of flavour and the bite of the spices. It’s got a bit of a kick to it and is just the right amount to fill you up, as long as you have rice with it!

Cardamom Chicken Ingredients: Marinated Chicken (40%), Water, Onion, Coconut Milk (7%), Creamed Coconut (6%), Rapeseed Oil, Cornflour, Garlic, Ginger, Green Chilli (1%), Chicken Stock, Cardamom (<1%), Lime Juice, Turmeric, Ground Coriander, Sea Salt, Sugar, Chilli Powder (<1%) Marinated Chicken Contains: Chicken (90%), Water, Sea Salt, Potato Starch Chicken Stock Contains: Water, Chicken Extract They do a full range of different meals but the only two I could have due to my tomato allergy was the Cardamom chicken and the Red Thai curry. I really don't care, these two are just so tasty I will be happy to have these when it's take-away night, of maybe any night when I fancy a curry. They are so tasty. They also so some soups, one of which is freefrom dairy, gluten and tomato and is Pea and mint flavour - it's very nice, almost like home-made soup but not nearly as WOW as the curries... My mouth is still watering just thinking about the cardamom chicken curry. Damn that tomato – It is a shame that so many of the ilumi products contain tomato or tomato paste but then I guess, not many people have to avoid tomato or have a tomato allergy. I would love to know how many people are unable to eat tomato and really wish more retailers would look into perhaps not including it in so many things. If you were to make the same dish at home, a casserol for instance, often the cookery book will not include tomato, but food manufacturers will have included it. I guess it adds flavour and colour to the dish.

The ilumi curry is priced at about £3.25 per pouch and you can buy them online direct.

To check out the full range of ilumi products on offer visit

Sainsbury’s chicken hot pot

This ready meal in a pouch is freefrom gluten, dairy, soya, tomatoes and celery – Hooray! Sainsbury's freefrom chicken hotpot

The gravy is really tasty and there are some chunks of chicken in it, but for a proper meal I might be a slightly hungry if this was all I had. It’s OK for a snack but I would usually make a jacket potato or other carb to have with it and it could also do with some accompanying veggies.

Not bad at all though for a quick meal, and in the time it takes to heat up the hotpot in pan you could easily have boiled some new potatoes and vegetables. It takes about 10 minutes to heat up.

Ingredients: Chicken Thigh (28%), Vegetables (28%) (Onion, Carrot, Peas, Kale, Leek, Parsnip, Swede), Potato (23%), Water, Rice Flour, Olive Oil, Signature Roast Chicken Stock, Tapioca Flour, Potato Flour, Sea Salt, Garlic, Lovage, Maize Flour, Black Pepper, Buckwheat Flour.

The chicken stock contains: Water, Natural Chicken Juices, Onion, Carrot.

It’s also pretty low calorie at 266 per pouch, not that I ever look at the calorie content, but every cloud has a silver lining; the fat (11.7g) and salt (1.80g) content are worth noting but not too high. At just £2.29 each these are well worth having in the cupboard for emergencies or lazy days.

There are loads of other company’s who make FreeFrom ready meals which are gluten free, Amy’s Kitchen are another. Their gluten and dairy free Macaroni cheese is quite nice, with some spinach or other vegetables on the side. Do make sure you have the right product as they also do a gluten free pasta version with real cheese.

I am sure there are other freefrom ready meal companies out there but Sainsbury’s and ilumi are the only ones I know of who have gone so far to produce totally 100% natural and freefrom products. Not many companies have chosen to make their products free from ALL of the major 14 allergens so those who do really have our praise and grateful thanks.

And when the taste is so outstanding.. honestly I can’t recommend these curry pouches highly enough. Go out and buy some, you won’t be disappointed.

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About Ruth

Ruth works freelance as a copywriter and writes the What Allergy blog to share information with people who have allergies, eczema, asthma and food intolerances. was voted in the top 5 allergy blogs and Ruth also judges regularly for the FreeFrom Food Awards and FreeFrom Skincare Awards. She also won the Foods You Can People's choice Best FreeFrom blogger award 2014.


  1. Christine says:

    These sound lovely. And hats off to ilumi and Sainsburys for producing such tasty meals. BUT, they may well be free from many allergens but they still contain the dreaded corn which I am severely allergic too. I am still trying to find a ready meal company which doesn’t substitute corn for wheat, particularly when products like tapioca starch or potato starch would do the job just as well. Ah well, I can but dream and continue searching…

    • Hi Christine, ah what a shame. I am so lucky I can tolerate corn. Arrowroot is also a brilliant thickener to use instead of corn flour. It seems that unless it’s one of the golden top 14 allergens it’s not on the radar for this big food companies. It’s a start, but a shame about the corn flour. I have a whole list of their ingredients for all products. I’ll check and let you know. Is maize flour the same as corn flour? ilumi do this one: Potato, Onion & Pancetta Pan Fry: Marinated Potato (74%), Onion (17.%), Pancetta (9%), Marinated Potato Contains: Potato (94%), Olive Oil, Chicken Stock (2%), Water
      Potato Starch, Thyme, Sea Salt, Black Pepper, Pancetta Contains: Pork (93%), Salt. Herbs & Spices (Garlic, Black Pepper, White Pepper, Cinnamon, Mace, Cloves, Nutmeg, Coriander, Vanilla. Antioxidant: Sodium Ascorbate. Preservative: Sodium Nitrite, Potassium Nitrate. Chicken Stock Contains:
      Water Chicken Extract
      Could it be? Is it? Freefrom Corn?

  2. What I really need is more Vegan meal options because I’m a non meat eater with dairy & egg allergy. Everyone loves ilumi but I’m not a fan. I wish there was a wider selection of Amy’s Kitchen meals, the Vegan side to their business isn’t getting much attention at supermarket, as they favour the Gluten free options and they all have milk (why must everything contain cheese!). I am a fan of the free from korma & masala sauces from Tesco & Sainsburys so at least I can whip up a veg curry 🙂

    • Hi Sarah, you know if I was a vegan I would really struggle so I can understand your frustrations. And I know what you mean about gluten free stuff, most of it contains butter or cheese and/or nuts which rules it out for me. But you can’t make every product suitable for everyone. Have you tried Dee’s tasty vegan and gluten free stuff? I just found them as Commended on the FreeFrom Food Awards website Worth checking out. Might be something for you there. I haven’t tried them either myself but will be checking them out. Amazing what you can discover on google!

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