Co-Operative Meal Deal

I rarely buy ready meals as I prefer to make my own but we all like to have a night off once in a while and this is what I did last Saturday.

I was kindly given a £10 voucher to test out one of the Co-operative Meal Deals which promised a two course meal for two and a drink. It sounds like a fabulous deal, but was it?

My local Co-op had four choices for meal, side dish and sweet, plus wine or non alcoholic drinks. Not the biggest selection ever, but reasonable enough.

The wine was an easy choice as I prefer red, I chose their South African variety. I am no expert but found this a very pleasant wine and lighter than our usual, I would happily drink it again.

For the main course there were two fish dishes: salmon in pastry or paella. Or two meat: turkey breast or chicken chestnut and mushroom pies. I chose the pies as my husband is not keen on seafood.

For the side I decided on chorizo potatoes. Incidentally I could have chosen some fresh vegetables but I already had some at home.

When it came to cooking the potatoes and pies they both needed different temperatures (slightly disappointing for a ready meal) so I started by putting the potatoes in the oven at 200c for ten minutes and then turned the oven down to 180c for twenty minutes for the pies, both cooked well. It was difficult to get the pie onto a plate. It came in a foil container and only had a crust on the top, hence the slightly untidy look. However the taste more than made up for it’s lack of presentation, it was delicious. You can see from my picture that I added some cauliflower and carrots.

For dessert there was a choice of four but I particularly liked the sound of salted caramel cheesecake. This was very tasty on an oat biscuit base, with a slight hint of saltiness.

Would I buy these again.

Yes I would, as I say its not often that I buy ready meals but I would definitely try another of these for a treat and a night off from cooking.

Could it be improved in anyway?

The only thing I would say is I did feel the need to add something more to the main meal (extra veg). However I did feel that it was value for money.

It was also be more convienient if cooking temperatures matched up for sheer ease.


Amy’s Kitchen Review

I’m not a huge ready meal fan, they conjure mental images of bland looking and tasteless meals that only really offer the benefit of being quick to prepare. They are also comparatively expensive. But it’s seems this image is not always valid, I have recently come across Amy’s Kitchen. A brand that has already gained popularity in the US has now jumped the pond, to offer us natural, gluten free, vegetarian ready meals. But can a ready meal ever match a home made meal?

Amy’s Indian Vegetable Korma

I tried out two of the many varieties of ready meals available from Amy’s Kitchen. I began with the Indian Vegetable Korma.

As a Curry this meal is very good, it has a gentle heat provided by the addition of Jalapeño Peppers, but it isn’t hard or rough on the palate. But as a Korma it isn’t quite what I was expecting, not because it was unpleasant, but more because it was rather slim on Coconut flavouring. I normally expect Kormas to give creamy sauces with a heavy and delicious coconut bent. But while I thoroughly enjoyed this curry it wasn’t a pure Korma in my mind.

The rice was very good and perfectly accompanied the curry, the vegetables were also very tender despite being reheated in a microwave. If I had one criticism it would be that the meal had an excess of liquid. This didn’t appear to impact on the flavour however.

The Dal accompaniment was somewhat anaemic in appearance, the box led me to believe I would be tucking into a deep brown Dal, when the reality can only be described as grey. Thankfully colour generally has little bearing on taste and this was certainly the case here

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this meal. All the meals come frozen and I reheated them in the microwave, but they can also be popped in the oven if preferred.

Could It be improved in anyway?

To make it the kind of Korma flavour that the majority might expect it could benefit from a greater addition of coconut.

Amy’s Vegetable Lasagna

My first impressions of the Vegetable Lasagna were very good, it had a lovely colour and smell. Like the Korma it had a lot of excess liquid but this was not problematic at all.

The pasta layers had just the right al dente bite. The flavour was truly wonderful, despite being a completely vegetarian lasagne it was very hearty and filling. I didn’t find I missed the addition of meat at all. The vegetables themselves taste fresh and tender.

Overall I was very impressed with the vegetable lasagne and I plan to buy it in future. I let my husband try it and he too was very impressed. This would suit all my family perfectly.

Could it be improved in anyway?

I genuinely enjoyed this lasagna so much that I’d like to see family sized portions available. In terms of taste it’s pretty spot on so I’d make no improvements there.  This would be a wonderful meal for those busy days when you want to give your family something healthy and tasty but without the effort.


For more information and to find your nearest stockist visit Amy’s Kitchen Online.

Amy’s Kitchen uses certified Organic ingredients. Dairy products are made with pasteurised rBST hormone-free milk and contain No animal enzymes or rennet.

No dishes contain meat, fish, poultry or eggs.

All Amy’s Kitchen products are non – GMO and don’t contain hydrogenated fats or oils

Giovanni Rana Fresh Filled Pasta Review

I posted earlier today about our love of Italy. But what about when you get back home? Can you really capture the spirit and taste of Italy in a UK kitchen?

I was recently asked if I’d like to try out Giovanni Rana’s new Fresh Filled Pasta Ready Meals. The new range includes:

  • Tortellini filled with Prosciutto Crudo in tomato sauce (with cherry tomatoes, spinach and Parmigiano Reggiano shavings).
  • Tortellini filled with Spinich and Ricotta in a basil sauce (with courgettes and cheese shavings).
  • Tortellini filled with Prosciutto Crudo in Alfredo sauce (with peas, smoked ham and Parmigiano Reggiano shavings).

For this review I tested out the Tortellini filled with Prosciutto Crudo in tomato sauce.

To start with the packaging is very appealing, it looks like a quality product which is something ready meals can lack.

After a few short minutes in the microwave I placed the pasta into a bowl. You can of course eat it straight from the packet, but as I was at home I preferred to use my own dish. It all looked very appetizing.

Down to the taste testing. To start with the pasta was perfectly al dente. I had worried it might be sloppy as pre-prepared pastas sometimes can be. But this was just right.

The sauce was very filling and the portion size just right for me. I love cheesy pasta sauces but they can be heavy and leave you feeling sluggish. Thankfully this wasn’t the case here, there was just the right combination of cheese with a cut through taste of fresh tomato. Everything looked and more importantly tasted fresh.

Would I recommend this product?

Yes, I was very impressed and would happily eat more of these. Ready meal pastas don’t often appeal to me, sporting tough/overcooked pasta with a heavy sauce. But this was as fresh and tasty as if it had just been prepared in a restaurant. In fact I’m sure you could pass this off as homemade if you fancied. As a ready meal for one person this is a very handy solution and with an RRP of £2.99 a very affordable choice.

Could it be improved in anyway?

Not this particular dish. But I would like to see more varieties added to the range and perhaps larger sizes if you wanted to feed more than one person.