Source: byRuby

When byRuby’s ingredients lists read just like those I use myself at home, I placed my order

I have been sniffy about frozen products in the past. While happy to load up my freezer with frozen ingredients – berries, raw meat, fish – and very few processed foods – bread, pastry, ice cream – I shunned frozen ready meals.

To be fair, my antipathy to chilled ready meals runs even deeper. Researching their ingredients lists and composition has taught me they are much more likely to contain food additives and tortured techno-ingredients than comparable offerings in the freezer section.

Arctic temperatures perform a straightforward preservation job that makes the technical fixes used to extend chilled products redundant.

But frozen meals still had a low rent image in my mind, most likely based on the old-school Birds Eye-type offerings to be found in the local convenience store. And sampling meals from Cook, although vastly superior to established frozen food predecessors, wasn’t enough to turn me into a regular customer.

Now I’m eating my words.

I owe my late conversion to byRuby. This two-woman, London-based company, founded by a protégé of Leith’s Cook School and a chef, makes its frozen meals in small batches from top-quality, well-sourced ingredients – vegetables fresh from Covent Garden Market, British grass-fed, organic beef, free-range chicken and the like.

The company’s sales pitch prodded me to examine my ingrained prejudice when I was looking to send a supportive gift to a beleaguered first-time mother. Bouquets are lovely, but a hungry mother can’t eat them. Instant food would help her the most.

So I scrutinised the ingredient lists of byRuby’s meals with my factory food-hater’s lens, and when they read just like those I use myself at home, I placed my order.

“They’re a godsend,” my friend reported back. “So useful and they do actually taste home-made.”

I wondered if she was just being polite, so I ordered some for myself. She was right. If I were served byRuby’s roasted cod and cannellini beans or coq au vin, I’d be content. It would never occur to me they had come out the freezer.

Belatedly, I have understood freezing can indeed press ‘pause’ on a truly home-made dish until you decide to press ‘play’.