Easy and filling low-calorie meals, thanks to Marley Spoon

Low-calorie meals don't have to leave you hungry, as I recently discovered.

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Image: Marley Spoon

My basal metabolic rate is 1,350. The basal metabolic rate is the number of calories your body burns in a day just by being alive. We're often told this number is around 1,800–2,000 per day, which is what I had based my eating habits on.

But my real number is 1,350. No, you're not reading that incorrectly. My daily intake of calories is supposed to be 1,350 per day to maintain the weight I'm at now. For context, a study of starvation in Minnesota found that a diet of 1,570 calories led to serious mental health issues in most participants. And I am apparently allowed 200 calories less than this. Yeah.

Why did I look into this you might ask? Because for a year I'd been slowly gaining weight even though I was eating healthily and exercising. Now that I know what I can eat, my weight gain has stopped, but I've had to make peace with feeling unbearably hungry for most of the day.

Marley Spoon healthy meals: What's the calorie count?

In an effort to find a way to escape my perpetual hunger, I've pretty much googled every variation of "low-calorie meal". Eventually I found that Marley Spoon had added a selection of healthy meals to its rotation and decided to investigate.

I've tried Marley Spoon before and knew it provides a lot of food. The portions are generous, with the average portions sitting at about 700–800 calories, so it meant I only allowed myself about 600 or so calories for breakfast, lunch and a coffee. But recently, Marley Spoon has introduced some low-calorie options, meals that all weigh in at under 600 per portion. Some even at under 500 calories. So, I decided to give Marley Spoon another try.

Korean beef noodle bowls with ginger, sesame and pickles

As I browsed through the recipes I saw "chargrilled steak", "beef stir-fry" and "Korean noodles". It was baffling. Surely you can't eat a steak and potatoes for under 600 calories, unless you only plan on having two bites? But Marley Spoon has a team of nutritionists and I was informed the calorie listing was indeed correct.

What do the low-calorie meals look like?

There are around six low-calorie options in every set of Marley Spoon meals and they're marked as "healthy". You have options to choose a two-meal, three-meal or four-meal box.

In my four-meal box I picked the "Fast Lamb Stir-Fry" at 580 calories, "Korean Beef Noodle Bowl" at 490 calories, "Chargrilled Beef Steak with Sweet Potato" at 580 calories and "Beef, Rocket and Burghul Salad" at 585 calories. I was very excited about this selection. Ever since I found out my actual calorie limit, things like steak and lamb had been pushed into the "only at Christmas" category. I hadn't had a steak in months.

The box arrived promptly within my delivery window. I was sent a tracking link via text so I could see when the box was coming and grab it straight away. All the ingredients for each meal come individually packaged in a paper bag so you know what goes with what. You also get a handy card which details all the pantry ingredients you'll need to have to complete the recipes, like vinegar and soy sauce. Other than these few cupboard staples, you get sent everything else. Noodles, garlic, sesame oil, meat – everything.

Cooking time

Sometimes it's those simple healthy dishes that take the longest to make, but not these. They were really quick.

Marley Spoon recipe

Last time I reviewed Marley Spoon, my only criticism was the 45-minute cooking time was more like an hour and 15 minutes. Sometimes longer. As someone who doesn't make it home from work until after 7pm, spending up to an hour and a half in the kitchen on a weeknight isn't ideal. It meant I had to try and cook these meals on the weekends only.

Marley Spoon recipe

But Marley Spoon has fixed this. Genuinely. Nearly all the meals I received were listed with a cooking time of 30 minutes (one was 40 minutes) and I cooked every single one in less than 30 minutes. I made the Korean noodle bowl in about 15–20 minutes. That said, I do have a food processor so the process of slicing the cabbage and carrot for me is very quick. But still, I was genuinely surprised at just how quickly I was able to put these together.

The end result?

The meals were all delicious. Since trying this box, I've actually tried to remake a few of the recipes because they were that good. It works out more expensive to do it yourself, but I couldn't wait for them to come back into the menu cycle.

The key selling point for me was how much food is in one portion. I couldn't finish one, except the steak which I was intent on finishing. Oh, the joy of feeling full! A feeling I haven't experienced in a long time. It was overwhelming to experience being able to actually feel satisfied without having to worry that I'd eaten past my calorie limit. Anyone who has been on a prolonged diet will know what I mean.

These meals are full of greens and veggies but also carbs and beef! I thought I was confined to poached chicken forever. I didn't think I'd be able to eat a guilt-free steak ever again.

Now for the weigh-in. I weigh myself almost every day, it's not a compulsive thing but I just like to make sure if I'm getting a little heavier I'm aware of it. But, I'm really happy to report that after a week of eating the Marley Spoon meals and feeling totally stuffed and happy, I'd lost a kilo! Maybe eating a sizeable meal helped speed up my metabolism? I'm not sure exactly how to explain it. I also noticed that my perpetually bloated stomach flattened out. I just felt thinner.

I already knew that Marley Spoon was way cheaper and easier than grocery shopping and choosing recipes yourself. But what I now know is Marley Spoon can help support your healthy eating goals too, in a way that is convenient, quick and delicious.

Head to Marley Spoon to browse the meals for this week and check out all the current deals below.

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