No Biggie Meals have served up a magnificent menu in their first two weeks of operations.
The idea behind the initiative is to ensure the survival of our hospitality venues during the COVID-19 shutdown, but also to provide top-notch nutrition at an affordable price.
With all participating venues producing the same menu, all orders are taken through the No Biggie Meals website and you nominate your preferred pickup point.
On Wednesday afternoon (I can pick them up anytime between 3:00 pm and 8:00 pm) I walked down to my nominated venue (The Duxton) to pick up my No Biggie five-pack of heat-and-eat meals.
I was handed my order immediately by the friendly lady at the counter of the cafe, which has social distancing rules in place, and had a quick chat to Chef Matthew Ouwerkerk, one of the many chefs across Canberra keeping the hospitality sector alive.
“We do hope to see a rise in customers,” he said. “Each venue gets to take a turn in designing a menu every week, so you get to experience a really wide range of meals.
“We get menu cards, and we all cook to that, and we’re sensitive to food allergies so we can do lactose and gluten-free, and we try not to include nuts. We substitute with seeds or leave them out,” he said.
Every one of these meals, despite being in a takeaway container, was beautifully presented. They all had a label on each lid which indicated whether the meal needed to be eaten fresh or could be frozen.
Now, I’ve tried a few of these convenient ‘heat and eat’ meals when I got sick of my own cooking, the ones you can buy through supermarkets, and there is absolutely no comparison, in my view.
No Biggie Meals are so incredibly fresh, and it shows in both the texture and taste, which must add to the nutritional value of the meal.
While we’re at it, let’s talk nutritional value.
Last week’s greens include broccoli, one of my favourites, which provides vitamin K and C, and is a great source of folate and potassium; and spinach, rich in vitamins B6, B9 and E, folic acid, iron and calcium and high levels of carotenoids which your body converts into vitamin A.
There is also garlic, rich in vitamin C and trace elements like manganese and selenium, mushrooms which have vitamin B1, B2, B3, B5, and B9 which are excellent for helping your body eliminate free radicals.
Butternut squash has antioxidants, including vitamin C and beta carotene and a single-serve of butternut squash has more potassium than a banana. All vegetables are a great source of insoluble fibre which will keep things nice and regular!
Meat of any kind is a great source of protein, which is good at keeping you feeling full for longer, and at keeping your iron levels healthy. The menu includes chicken and beef, with the added benefit of fish which contains omega-3 fatty acids which are good for heart health. The No Biggie Meals have all three, and vegetarian options as well, and for those with food allergies, there are gluten-free and lactose-free options.
The taste experience is exactly what you would expect of a quality restaurant meal.
My favourite, so far, has to be the Vegetarian Linguini Puttanesca, which has all the right herbs and ingredients at exactly the right proportions.
You can order from the No Biggie Meals website, and choose which venue you want to support.
You can also subscribe to orders, which I’m very happy to do to support our hospitality industry, because when this COVID-19 thing is over, I want to celebrate by going out to eat, and I want our venues to survive.
And as truffles are coming in, next week’s menu has a Truffled Mushroom Risotto for which I can barely contain my excitement.
The number of venues participating is growing, and now includes Erindale Vikings, Assembly, Walt & Burley, Howling Moon, The Duxton, Siren Bar, Little Oink, Lil Milk Bar, Kamberra Function Centre, Chifley’s Bar & Grill, Monster Kitchen & Bar, and Belluci’s Woden.