Experiments with meal-replacement powders from a person who enjoys food and cooking
Two of my hobbies are reading cookbooks, normally in an armchair in the kitchen while something else cooks, and cooking. With that in mind, I took the probably improbable decision to try one of the many meal replacement powders.
The recent trend was, I believe, started by Soylent, but they all make me think of something given to people with digestive issues called Complan. The concept is simple: one determines what one needs to consume to live, then one works out how to render that in a powdered form, that only needs water to be added to it. Finally, one gives it a catchy name like Queal (quick meal?), Huel (human fuel?), Joylent (not Soylent?) and market.
After a highly scientific process (5m Googling, then reading one post on reddit), I ordered a sampler of Queal, based on the recommendation of it having the best flavour. A few days later, just in time for lunch on a Friday, my sampler box arrived. I diligently measured out 3.5 scoops of powder, shook it with 400ml of water, and consumed.
The first thing that struck me was the taste of the artificial sweetener, but I pushed past that and into the ‘meat’ of the drink. Each Queal serving is about 700kcal, and they are definitely filling. It’s very easy to chew the liquid (suspension?) thanks to the oat flour, so there’s plenty of texture. It takes about 5m to prepare the Queal, and I can drink it quite slowly while doing something else. The servings are pleasantly filling.
On my first weekend with Queal, I tried having it twice a day: I made it from Friday to Saturday lunch time, before I couldn’t take it any more. Despite the massive benefits of low preparation time and low clean up time, I needed more variety in my textures. On Sunday, I re-grouped, and had it again for lunch, and again on Monday. There’s no reason or suggestion on Queal’s site that one should replace all of one’s meals with it; I was being bloody-minded.
Settling down to using it as my lunch has worked out very well: I find that, due to not having spent any time cooking and cleaning at lunch, I enjoy my evening cooking a lot more, instead of it feeling like a duty from my personally-inflicted high-protocol lifestyle. I haven’t noticed any ill-effects after a few weeks, despite maintaining a high-exercise regime, and have just received another order of Queal (I’m very excited about the Speculoos flavour).
Time- and energy-savings aside, each serving works out to about £1.50, and even with only replacing four meals a week, I’ve noticed a lot of money saved too. I don’t know, and don’t have a particular desire to, quantify the average cost of a meal, but I know that £1.50 is a lot less.
Flavour-wise, Queal provides a wide range, and I think my favourite is the chocolate-peanut butter one. Favourite, until I open the Speculoos I’m sure. They’ve also added a caffeinated one, to increase morning efficiency.
How I prepare my Queal
- Take the shaker, and put the spring/agitator in the bottom.
- Measure out your water, and put approximately 50ml in the bottom of the shaker.
- Put the shaker on an accurate set of scales, tare, and spoon in 175g of powder.
- Remove from scales, and add the rest of the water (350ml).
- Shake, and leave to rest in the fridge.
This differs from the instructions, and I find produces a much smoother preparation: by not having to use 3.5 scoops of powder, I’m not compressing the powder, so it mixes in with the water much more easily. By putting a little water at the bottom, I’m preventing lumps from forming where the bottom of the shaker meets the sides. By not putting all of the water in, I’m preventing the powder from getting near the top of the shaker, which means I’m less likely to get it everywhere. Following this recipe also requires a lot less shaking to receive the same smooth result, and absolutely removes the need for a blender, or one of those shakers with some kind of battery-powdered agitator built in.