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Can you recommend good ready meals?

PostPosted: April 15th, 2018, 6:35 am
by Pepper Pig
The subject came up on Chatterbox but as it's food-related I thought we could discuss it here. The consensus is that there are few ready meals that are up to much.

I agree that there are many but I think that there are quite a lot that are not just edible but very good indeed. I no longer faff about in the kitchen as much as I once did. (I don't have the enthusiasm or the stamina unless the family are coming over). OH has a very bland, not to say boring palate these days and I often have to prepare something different for him so that Josh and I can eat stuff we really like.

Ready meals I enjoy (especially when RTC which is often a deciding factor):

Anything made by Charlie Bigham.
Aldi posh pizza, ditto M&S and Waitrose.
Waitrose steak and kidney puddings.
M&S Gastropub range.

I'm sure there are more and there are also some horrors but does anybody have recommendations?

Re: Can you recommend good ready meals?

PostPosted: April 15th, 2018, 9:58 am
by aero280
I haven’t been over to look recently, but the deli shop at Battlers Farm near Radlett sells/sold frozen ready meals from a local source. They came in foil trays with just a sticky white label on the lid, which just had the company name and what was in it. Various sizes and one thing only, not a whole meal. I remember we had a delicious Beef Bourguignon once. It was a dish for four people. But there was a good selection.

Re: Can you recommend good ready meals?

PostPosted: April 15th, 2018, 10:06 am
by PatsyMFagan
There is also the range called 'Cook' ... that I see on sale in my local petrol station. No idea how good they are, but they look the ticket ... could just be clever marketing though ;)

Re: Can you recommend good ready meals?

PostPosted: April 15th, 2018, 10:13 am
by Suelle
I like the Pieminister pies - the website shows a much bigger range than my branch of Waitrose stocks:

https://www.pieminister.co.uk/food/pies/

Higgedy vegetarian pies and quiches are quite good too. They make meaty ones too, but I haven't tried any of them.

I'm not sure a pie counts as a ready meal - I usually think of a ready meal as not needing anything extra added, but when I think about it, even if I do buy one, there's often the need for something extra, even if it's just some fresh vegetables. It's rare to get a complete meal in one container.

Re: Can you recommend good ready meals?

PostPosted: April 15th, 2018, 10:24 am
by Meganthemog
If you like the Charlie Bingham pasta range do try the Aldi version. Same little wooden boxes so probably from same supplier - but a fraction of the cost.

Re: Can you recommend good ready meals?

PostPosted: April 15th, 2018, 10:25 am
by Pepper Pig
That’s one of the reasons why the Bigham’s meals are so good Suelle.

Re: Can you recommend good ready meals?

PostPosted: April 15th, 2018, 10:27 am
by Pepper Pig
Meganthemog wrote:If you like the Charlie Bingham pasta range do try the Aldi version. Same little wooden boxes so probably from same supplier - but a fraction of the cost.


Funnily enough we had a spicy sausage pasta bake from there last week. I thought it was very good but he said it was too spicy and gave his portion to the dogs. :o I would buy again if I wasn’t catering for him.

Re: Can you recommend good ready meals?

PostPosted: April 15th, 2018, 10:47 am
by Busybee
Lidl do, or did, a rather good Indian range of ready meals......but this was 4/5 years ago. They were a favourite at work if someone had forgotten to bring in lunch.

I look at the price and times it by three, then decide it’s much cheaper to cook myself (you can’t take the Yorkshire out of the girl) but if I only had to cater for one I might be more inclined to try them out. The Charlie Bingham ones do look nice.....

BB

Re: Can you recommend good ready meals?

PostPosted: April 15th, 2018, 10:52 am
by Suelle
Pepper Pig wrote:That’s one of the reasons why the Bigham’s meals are so good Suelle.


My Waitrose branch doesn't stock many single portions in that range - and they are relatively expensive compared to Waitrose own brand - even RTC! ;)

Re: Can you recommend good ready meals?

PostPosted: April 15th, 2018, 10:56 am
by Pepper Pig
They are very expensive and I assume that’s why they’re a lot better than Waitrose own. Both our Tesco and Sainsbury’s also sell them now.

Re: Can you recommend good ready meals?

PostPosted: April 15th, 2018, 11:15 am
by Seatallan
Some of the M&S 'count on us' range are nice. Both the meat and veggi moussaka are jolly good for example. I also like their standard Chicken Kievs (I prefer the standard ones to the Gastropub version).

Re: Can you recommend good ready meals?

PostPosted: April 15th, 2018, 11:42 am
by Meganthemog
Why is it that all ready meals have that same characteristic 'sweet' smell with the exception of the Charlie Bingham ones? I wonder if it is some sort of preservative. My late MIL used to rely on M&S meals but they all had the same smell.
I like the M&S Chicken Kievs but I don't think of them as a ready meal - I consider those to be something that doesn't need an accompaniment.
PP the CB macaroni cheese is absolutely gorgeous - not bland but maybe OH would like it as it isn't spicy.

Re: Can you recommend good ready meals?

PostPosted: April 15th, 2018, 11:54 am
by Pepper Pig
Yes he likes that one and loves the fish pie MM. Not so keen on the moussaka or the curries but I think they’re really good.

Re: Can you recommend good ready meals?

PostPosted: April 15th, 2018, 11:55 am
by Seatallan
Meganthemog wrote:I like the M&S Chicken Kievs but I don't think of them as a ready meal - I consider those to be something that doesn't need an accompaniment.


Fair point. In which case, same applies to the 'Count on Us' ones (I usually make a big salad or cook some veg to go with them).

PP, have you tried Wiltshire Farm Foods talking of 'complete' instant meals? My father loved them.

Re: Can you recommend good ready meals?

PostPosted: April 15th, 2018, 11:55 am
by Prettykiwicrazy
Higgidy quiches are nice and M&S's curries are very tasty. I tried the Wicked vegan pizzas , very nice.

I wouldn't class it as a ready meal, but to open it up slightly to include general convenient foods, tescos do a frozen risotto mix,which is good in a rush

Re: Can you recommend good ready meals?

PostPosted: April 15th, 2018, 12:00 pm
by TeresaFoodie
When I discovered Lidl a few months back I wasn't ever unimpressed by theirs, plus cheap, cheap, cheap, a bit small but pile them up veg, bingo!

I also confess to quite enjoying a Sainsbury's value ready meal in the chilled. Fish pie rather nice with loads of peas or whatever.

Re: Can you recommend good ready meals?

PostPosted: April 15th, 2018, 12:03 pm
by StokeySue
Suelle wrote:Higgedy vegetarian pies and quiches are quite good too. They make meaty ones too, but I haven't tried any of them.

Interested that a baker and someone else recommend Higgedy pies. I've had two and thought the pastry was indefensible on both occasions

I haven't a lot of experience with ready meals, and the trouble is they come and go - Morrison's did a range by named chefs that was superb (best shepherd's pie ever) but they seem to have disappeared, I'll have a look

Re: Can you recommend good ready meals?

PostPosted: April 15th, 2018, 12:23 pm
by aero280
It seems that it is the "Cook" range of ready meals that they stock at Battlers Green Farm, but I'm sure there is a lot more. There was a large frozen food section.

http://www.battlersgreenfarm.co.uk/farm-shop/

it's only 5 minutes along the road from Costco in Watford.

Re: Can you recommend good ready meals?

PostPosted: April 15th, 2018, 1:46 pm
by Pepper Pig
I'll check it out next time I go to Costco, probably Thursday. Thanks Aero.

Re: Can you recommend good ready meals?

PostPosted: April 15th, 2018, 2:24 pm
by earthmaiden
Cook is a chain. They are not particularly cheap but very respectable in nice parts of the Home Counties and beyond. I have a friend whose sister is a clean, tidy and fussy kind of person, she and her husband decided they didn't want to mess up the kitchen of their nice Surrey flat once they'd retired and almost live on Cook items, even using them for dinner parties etc. https://www.cookfood.net/shops/

I do eat ready meals sometimes when I have a busy work week. I like Sainsburys and Waitrose and dislike M&S. I have not tried other makes. I agree too that Wiltshire Farm Foods are worth a try, I had some quite edible meals of theirs with MIL (as their main market is the elderly there are quite a few 'good plain food' choices for those not so keen on heat or spice).

Just steer clear of Slimming World Ready meals!! :sprout: :sprout:

Re: Can you recommend good ready meals?

PostPosted: April 15th, 2018, 2:32 pm
by Pepper Pig
OH isn’t doing SW thank goodness and I won’t touch them having sampled about 3. Our local Iceland is open today between 5 and 6 for SW members only. :o That’s a new one on me!

Please don’t think I have completely stopped cooking, I haven’t!

Re: Can you recommend good ready meals?

PostPosted: April 15th, 2018, 3:34 pm
by Ratatouille
I'm of absolutely no help at all , but, if for any reason we can't, don't feel like cooking, we pick up something from our butcher/traiteur. I think it is much easier for us to cope with such problems and for that I am so very thankful.

Re: Can you recommend good ready meals?

PostPosted: April 16th, 2018, 12:35 pm
by KC2
Hi, I'm afraid I haven't read the whole thread but saw the subject and thought I'd mention the excellent Waitrose £10 offer for Indian food - 2 sides, 2 mains and a rice. We had samosas(4), onion bhajis (6), vegetable kofta and lamb rogan josh with spinach and carrot pilau rice last night and it fed 3 of us. I had made a bit of extra basmati rice (what they call one portion on the packet which is 75g) and had picked up 6 mini naans half price in Tesco. We had a feast. Still a bit of plain rice and 3 naans left, which are now in the freezer. Altogether a great and very tasty meal!

Re: Can you recommend good ready meals?

PostPosted: April 16th, 2018, 2:27 pm
by earthmaiden
Pepper Pig wrote: Our local Iceland is open today between 5 and 6 for SW members only. :o That’s a new one on me!

Good grief! There's a new out of town store called 'Food Warehouse' opening here soon which looks interesting. When you read the (very) small print it is Iceland. I am wondering why they don't advertise it as such. Maybe they'll have 'special evenings' too :lol: :lol: .

Re: Can you recommend good ready meals?

PostPosted: April 16th, 2018, 3:08 pm
by StokeySue
earthmaiden wrote:Good grief! There's a new out of town store called 'Food Warehouse' opening here soon which looks interesting. When you read the (very) small print it is Iceland. I am wondering why they don't advertise it as such. Maybe they'll have 'special evenings' too .

Their website does call it "Food Warehouse by Iceland"
Seems however mostly to be bulk packs
I see they have a new store at Tottenham Hale, I wondered what was going into that unit, it's been empty a while, but I noticed it being refurbished recently

Re: Can you recommend good ready meals?

PostPosted: April 16th, 2018, 8:07 pm
by OneMoreCheekyOne
earthmaiden wrote:Cook is a chain. They are not particularly cheap but very respectable in nice parts of the Home Counties and beyond. I have a friend whose sister is a clean, tidy and fussy kind of person, she and her husband decided they didn't want to mess up the kitchen of their nice Surrey flat once they'd retired and almost live on Cook items, even using them for dinner parties etc. https://www.cookfood.net/shops/


We’ve used Cook a few times...usually as an alternative to a take away. Their chicken, leek and ham pie is really very good.

Re: Can you recommend good ready meals?

PostPosted: April 17th, 2018, 5:28 am
by cyprusmoira
Ready Meals do not exist in Cyprus except for those imported for we Brits. I buy some Tesco imports, notably their chicken range, Kievs and Cheese and Bacon, they always require vegetables so do they count as ready meals?

Moira

Re: Can you recommend good ready meals?

PostPosted: April 17th, 2018, 12:49 pm
by Herbidacious
My experience is limited to vegetarian things, and I pretty much gave up on most of the ones that come in plastic trays as a complete meal - I'd rather buy a ready made side dish or ingredients, such as potatoes parmentier, and embellish it (egg cracked into a gap[ in them and baked, cheese, herbs etc.) The only obvious ready meal I buy (apart from pizza which any brand or type of which, almost can be rendered nice if sufficiently embellished) is cauliflower cheese - Sainsbury's, M&S or Waitrose, ideally. They are ok... although I still always add things - mustard, garlic seasoning, smoked paprika etc. Sometimes a little cheese, but I don't think these brands usually need it. They need a lot more cooking imo than the instructions though.

Not sure if this counts, but I am a slightly shamefaced fan of Amy's Kitchen vegetarian chilli (in tins.)

I do find ready meals are a bit tasteless primarily because they are not very salty. I assume they reduce the salt to co[ly with health things, but because need it to bring out the processed out flavours. Or maybe it's just my aging tastebuds.

There is a Cook near me in Dulwich but not been tempted by anything they have on offer, especially not at the price.

Had some very nice 'special' things from M&S (ordered) for Christmas. Ocado do some quite nice little individual serving potato gratins.
I quite like some of the Higgidy littel quiches.

Ready meals (or veggie ones) seem to be on the increase in France (I suspect meat and fish ones have been around for ages.)

Re: Can you recommend good ready meals?

PostPosted: April 17th, 2018, 9:35 pm
by Amber
Two things.
One, I don’t suppose it will help you, but we have a local business that sells fresh meals for you to freeze at home. You can take your own dish so you get the portion size to suit. Is there anything like that near you?
Two. A bit more tricky. When my mum was ‘out of sorts’ with dementia, when she wanted her tea, she wanted it NOW!! Some M&S frozen ready meals, and, I think, all Wiltshire Farm Foods can be cooked from frozen, without either deciding on your tea first thing in the morning (sometimes difficult with dementia sufferers), or having to defrost them in the microwave first.

Higgedy pies don’t do it for me. :(

Re: Can you recommend good ready meals?

PostPosted: April 18th, 2018, 7:34 am
by Pepper Pig
Amber wrote:Two things.
Two. A bit more tricky. When my mum was ‘out of sorts’ with dementia, when she wanted her tea, she wanted it NOW!!
(


This is exactly why I want recommendations for ready meals. He has been like this for some time and I need to have something on hand that can be rustled up in minutes. He refuses to eat after 6 pm which often interferes with my life too. Also , as mentioned before, he is and always has been a very fussy eater but as he's got older his selection has become much narrower. No eggs, no beans or legumes, no mushrooms or any foreign or new-fangled veg, no curries, chillies or anything spicy. No milky things other than cheese sauces which he adores. Hates yogurt.

Re: Can you recommend good ready meals?

PostPosted: April 18th, 2018, 10:09 am
by suffolk
Sounds to me as if Wiltshire meals would be perfect ... such a huge range catering for all sorts of tastes, from the exotic to sliced roast meat in gravy and plain stews, casseroles, liver and bacon with mash and peas or broccoli ... suited my very conservative-eating parents down to a 'T'' (or is it 'tee' :? ) and could be cooked from frozen either in the ordinary oven or microwave. They loved getting the brochure out and choosing their order.

Re: Can you recommend good ready meals?

PostPosted: April 18th, 2018, 10:45 am
by Suelle
I saw an advert recently for something like Wiltshire meals, but with the added benefit(??) of the meals being stored at room temperature.

I think it was an insert in something like the National Trust magazine, or one of the catalogues I get sent, because I can't find it now, and can't remember the name of the company either. I know that's not much help but might be worth looking out for if freezer space is an issue.

Re: Can you recommend good ready meals?

PostPosted: April 18th, 2018, 8:22 pm
by Amber
Sorry, just remembered a third thing. If he’s not keen on strong or foreign flavours, and/or has a small appetite, you might want to try some of the children’s ready meals. Possibly use two portions per serving?

Re: Can you recommend good ready meals?

PostPosted: April 19th, 2018, 8:53 am
by Janet
Suelle wrote:I saw an advert recently for something like Wiltshire meals, but with the added benefit(??) of the meals being stored at room temperature.

I think it was an insert in something like the National Trust magazine, or one of the catalogues I get sent, because I can't find it now, and can't remember the name of the company either. I know that's not much help but might be worth looking out for if freezer space is an issue.


This sounds like http://www.parsleybox.com

They are smaller portion sizes 270g and don't require refrigeration.

Sainsbury's do smaller portion chilled ready meals at £1.50. The range includes cottage pie, shepherds pie, liver bacon & mash, bangers & mash, mac cheese, lasagne and they can be microwaved from frozen.

HTH

Janet

Re: Can you recommend good ready meals?

PostPosted: April 19th, 2018, 12:32 pm
by Pepper Pig
Nothing wrong with his appetite though just that he's cut out lunch. My mum (89) always orders children's portions when she eats out though.

Re: Can you recommend good ready meals?

PostPosted: April 19th, 2018, 12:45 pm
by Suelle
Thanks, Janet - that's probably the one I saw - couldn't find it by using the likeliest search phrases.

Re: Can you recommend good ready meals?

PostPosted: April 19th, 2018, 12:55 pm
by Pepper Pig
Thanks Janet. I've ordered him a catalogue.