I tried UK's first air fryer ready meals - one was as good as a takeaway but was it worth it?

breakfast
-Credit: (Image: Danielle Kate Wroe)


Brilliant British boffins have whipped up a delicious storm in the kitchen with an array of new quick and affordable meals, designed perfectly for your handy air fryer.

MJ's Diner claims to be the first business to propose that their range of meals - dubbed by some as 'fakeaways' - simply be popped into an air fryer before being plated up.

But how do these meals stack up taste-wise? To put it to the test, Danielle Kate Wroe, reporter at the Mirror, tried and tested the meals. You can read all her thoughts below.

So what's it all about?

air fryer meals
The range -Credit:Danielle Kate Wroe

Wanting to bring a little piece of takeaway delight into the homes of Brits everywhere, proud business owner Noel Davis has crafted an inventive menu that starts from just £1.99 or £2.49 per delightful dish.

In explaining the ethos behind his culinary innovation, Noel shared: "This product range hasn't been designed to be a healthy meal for the family. It's here to help those who are time-poor and want something that won't blow their calorie count but is a quick, tasty, and cheap option for an evening meal or breakfast."

Plus, with a variety of options to choose from, including fish and chips, meatballs, chicken wings and nuggets to name a few, even the pickiest eaters among us will find something tantalisingly tasty on offer. What's more, every meal checks in under 915 calories, reports the Mirror.

Keeping calorie counts down given the reputation of takeaway meals for piling on the pounds is welcomed news indeed. Eagerly, I sampled four dishes from the menu, and my feelings were mixed to say the least.

Read on to discover her verdict....

All-day breakfast - £2.49

breakfast
What a feast! -Credit: Danielle Kate Wroe

This all-day breakfast is a feast not to be underestimated, featuring two Cumberland sausages, two hash browns, two black puddings and two gammon steaks. However, it's not as simple as chucking everything into the air fryer at once.

The ingredients, excluding the gammon steaks, needed to be cooked first before adding them in later, making the process slightly more complex. Despite this, it's definitely easier than using the hob and oven.

Upon tasting the breakfast, the hash browns were wonderfully crispy and thoroughly enjoyable. The sausages were large and quite salty, requiring frequent sips of water between bites.

While I'm not usually a fan of black pudding, those who enjoy it would likely appreciate what this breakfast has to offer. Unfortunately, the gammon steaks didn't hit the mark for me, tasting akin to cheap spam with an odd texture.

Overall, if you're seeking an alternative to dining out for breakfast, this could certainly do the trick, provided you keep your expectations modest.

Fish fillet and chips - £1.99

fish
This meal was "truly satisfying" -Credit:No credit

Many people adore a fish from their local chip shop, but this air fryer meal was truly satisfying. The fish was perfectly crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, delivering a delightful taste.

The chips weren't to my liking, as I prefer them thinner, but that's just personal preference - and there was no shortage of them on the plate.

Cooking wasn't as straightforward as I'd have liked, as the fish needed to be cooked for five minutes before the chips. And if you've ever tried to prise one frozen food item off another, you'll know how tricky it can be, so removing frozen chips from frozen fish wasn't the easiest task in the world.

It was well worth the hassle though, and this fish fillet gets a huge thumbs up from me.

Salt and pepper chicken and chips - £2.49

If your Chinese takeaway of choice is salt and pepper chicken, you'll know that these days, it can cost more than a fiver for the tasty treat. But this offering is just as juicy, and less than half the price.

I was apprehensive when pouring this ready meal into the air fryer, as I was concerned that there wouldn't be enough seasoning to go around, but it was surprisingly spicy and is certainly a great alternative to a takeaway if you're looking to save money.

I'd certainly recommend this, and it was my favourite of the lot. It really packed a punch and the chicken was tender and tasty, and this crinkle-cut style of chips went down a treat, too.

Meatballs, chips and gravy - £2.49

Sadly, the meatballs chips and gravy didn't do anything for me. It tasted as though they were trying to replicate Ikea's tasty offering, but it missed the mark, in my opinion, and the gravy was too watery for me to truly enjoy.

If I were to give this another go, I'd be keen on a thicker, more user-friendly gravy. Wrestling with the frozen sachet was a bit of a faff, and without any guidance, decanting the hot contents into a bowl to avoid spillages was a must a potential recipe for disaster.

Wrapping up her thoughts...

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meatballs
MJ's Diner is certainly stirring up the market -Credit: Danielle Kate Wroe

MJ's Diner is certainly stirring up the market, with Noel proclaiming the range as "record-breaking". He enthused: "This is already a record-breaking range for us. Rates of sale are up to 500% greater than the leading brands, which is seven or eight times more than the best-selling products such as Bisto, which have been on the market for many years".

For those in a rush, having a meal that can be chucked into the air fryer is incredibly convenient. The dishes requiring additional steps or ingredients to be added at different times were somewhat irritating, particularly when trying to separate them from their icy clump.

When it comes to swapping out a takeaway for one of these budget-friendly meals, the salt and pepper chicken gets my endorsement. It delivers that beloved Chinese takeaway flavour at a slice of the cost - both financially and time-wise!

It's all about sampling to find your favourites among the plethora of choices available.

MJ's Diner air fryer-ready meals are now available from £1.99 at Farmfoods, Poundland, Oops Food Clearance in St Helens, and over 300 independent retailers across the country. MJ's Diner is a part of King Parrot Frozen Foods, and while their range is listed on their website, it cannot be purchased directly from there.

Final thoughts...

salt and pepper
MJ's Diner is doing something really exciting -Credit: Danielle Kate Wroe

"Overall, I feel like MJ's Diner is doing something really exciting, and according to Noel, the range is already "record-breaking". He said: "This is already a record-breaking range for us. Rates of sale are up to 500% greater than the leading brands, which is seven or eight times more than the best-selling products such as Bisto, which have been on the market for many years".

"I think it's certainly handy to have a meal or two in your freezer that you can just bung in the air fryer, especially if you're struggling for time and need something quick and easy. The meals where certain ingredients needed adding in before others were a bit annoying, especially as it was tricky to separate them as they're frozen. In terms of opting for one of these cheaper meals instead of a takeaway, the salt and pepper chicken definitely has my vote. It tasted just like your favourite Chinese takeaway would make, for a fraction of the price - and time! I think you just need to try the ones you fancy and repurchase the ones you're a fan of, and there are so many options to choose from.

"MJ's Diner air fryer-ready meals are available from £1.99 at Farmfoods, Poundland, Oops Food Clearance in St Helens, and over 300 independent retailers nationwide. MJ's Diner is part of King Parrot Frozen Foods, and the range is included on their website but is not available to buy from there."

The whole range is as follows:

  • Chicken Nuggets and Fries (Made with 100% Breast)

  • Fish Fillet and Straight Cut Chips

  • Mixed Starter: 2 Potato Skins, 6 Garlic Mushrooms & 4 Hot & Spicy wings

  • All Day Breakfast - 2 Sausage, 2 Hash Browns, 3 Gammon Grill / Steak, 2 Black Pudding

  • Katsu Chicken & Crinkle Cut Chips - 100% Breast Fillet

  • Sweet & Sour Chicken & Crinkle Cut Chips (100% Breast Fillet)

  • Shortcrust Steak Pie and Steak Cut Chips

  • Southern Fried Popcorn Chicken and crispy fries

  • Hot & Spicy Chicken Wings and Crinkle Cut Chips

  • Breaded Fish Fingers with Chips

  • 2 Beef Grillsteaks with Chips

  • Crispy Chicken Goujons and Crinkle Cut Chips (100% Breast Fillet)

  • Salt & Pepper Chicken Chunks and Crinkle Cut Chips

  • Beef Meatballs with Chips & Gravy

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