By Ruby Coq Au Vin
Having never experienced coq au vin before (and finding it hard to say it without thinking about that infamous Inbetweeners scene), I wasn’t sure whether I’d enjoy it. But it was really really good. Reeeaaally good. Comprised of chicken thighs slow-cooking in red wine sauce with bacon and mushrooms, it with deliciously rich and would be perfect for a chilly autumn evening. However, it was branded as serving two people, but in reality is probably better for just one person, unless you’ve got the capabilities to add some new potatoes or a little dollop of mash. So for £12.80, it’s quite expensive for the amount you get but honestly, you just can’t beat that taste. Really good.
Price: £6.80 for one person; £12.80 for two people
Gourmade Beef Stew & Dumplings
Gourmade believe there’s more to life that slaving over a hot stove, but they also believe in eating really good food. So, where’s the middle ground? Their frozen meals, apparently. Their range is frozen within an hour after being made up fresh, and free of artificial ingredients. We went for their beef stew and dumplings, made up of slow-cooking British beef and root vegetables, and topped with fluffy, herby dumplings. Smells amazing, tastes pretty good.
Price: £4.95 for one person; £8.95 for two people
Deliciously Ella Yellow Thai Curry
For the vegans and gluten intolerant folks out there, this one’s for you: Deliciously Ella’s Thai Yellow Curry is filled with wild mushrooms, red and yellow peppers, spinach and butternut squash, seasoned with lemongrass and coriander and blended with coconut milk. The lemongrass is a gentle hit, but I mean that as a compliment. My only criticism is I could have eaten a second portion, it’s a very small meal. Definitely not enough for two, and a bit of a stretch for one. Ella says on her site that she “has it at home with coconut rice and fresh chilli”. The flavour is fragrant , which I wasn’t expecting, but with a 45-minute cooking time and the need of additional rice, it’s not the quickest meal of the bunch.
Picard Goat’s Cheese & Spinach Lasagne
Picard is a French company and therefore when you buy their products, unless you speak French, you might not know quite what you’re picking up. Lasagnes Chèvre Epinards is goat’s cheese and spinach lasagne – perfect for vegetarians, and full of flavour. Sometimes these dinners can be a little shy on cheese, but this is packed with flavourful fromage and topped with grated Emmental cheese. Having said this, it does lack a little bit on the spinach. More greens please, Picard!
Charlie Bigham’s Fish Pie
If you’re familiar with making a fish pie, you’ll know it’s a fussy dish to make from scratch, so you’ll be thankful for this meal. Filled with cod, salmon and haddock, and topped with creamy mash and a crunchy cheddar breadcrumb topping, this really hits the spot. And their website is great – want a wine to pair with your fish pie? (Italian white wine.) A dish to serve on the side? (Peas with minted butter.) They’ll give you a recommendation for each of your meals. Now that’s what you call a luxury ready meal.
Iceland Luxury Moussaka
Say what you like about Iceland, but their Luxury range isn’t bad at all. The slow-cooked lamb in tomato ragu is rich and flavoursome, and the ratio of aubergine to potato to topping is spot-on. And can I please talk about the halloumi crumb and paprika sprinkle? It’s the dream topping. Plus, it’s the perfect amount for one person and at just £2.69, it’s the cheapest of the bunch. Cannot recommend enough.
Munch Fit Melanzane & Courgette Parmigiana with Brown Rice Salad
For those who don’t have time but want to stay healthy, Munch Fit is for you. This plant-based meal has just 460 calories in it, and is designed to be eaten before a big workout to boost your energy levels. It’s a little salty, and quite expensive, but overall a good meal for those who want something guilt-free.