Don’t bother cooking tonight – posh ready meals for the win

When your expertise is food, you learn very quickly to stop being snobby as it stops you having the most incredible eating experiences. Here Tania O’Donnell reviews some posh ready meals…

Last year I spent most of my time in the world of grocery retailing, looking at a lot of the food produced by and for supermarkets. I discovered the level of work that goes into each product from developers through to manufacturers and I learned, firsthand, that food for sale in the UK and Ireland is hard to bring to market. It gave me a newfound respect and admiration for anyone launching a new food business. To be frank, I’m far too lazy to work that bloody hard. And, on a weekend night, I’m far too lazy to cook dinner from scratch too.

Gary and I love food and love great dining experiences, but there are times you want to just throw a pizza in the oven and forget about it for 12 minutes and then just eat as fuel and crack on with what you’re doing. It’s at those times that I have learned to dig out the very best ready meals for the freezer or for delivery.

That’s why I was really happy when I was sent EatFirst‘s new Taste of Asia range of ready meals to try out. Ocado deliver these ‘restaurant-ready’ meals that have been developed by award-winning ex-Roka chef Benn Hodges.

I did worry that the meals were a bit on the small side, but this is ideal for lunches and also if you’re trying to control your portion sizes. The clean ingredients list means you’re also heading down a healthier path with regards to nutrition. The meals are balanced and put together in small batches that are hand-finished and sent on their way in eco-friendly compostable packaging.

Some of the really special touches are in the accompanying sauces that really make the dish. For example, the vegetable udon noodles has a really zingy accompanying sauce that lifted the whole thing significantly.

It has to be said that the prices aren’t cheap, but you are paying for quality. You can expect to pay around £5.50 per head, which isn’t bad if you consider that they are aiming for restaurant level dining. Given that I will pay £3.50 for a posh pizza from Iceland to keep in the freezer, I think this is comparable. It is a special treat when you can’t be arsed to cook rather than an everyday mid-week ready meal.

We thought it was a good foray into where ready meals are starting to go and it showed that you can deliver high quality ingredients prepared in a highly skilled way in a convenient format. Thumbs up from us!

The new range, dubbed the ‘World’s Finest Ready Meals’, were specially created for Ocado and include a selection of Asian fusion dishes perfect for one or two people, with dishes such as: Vegetable Udon Noodles, Asian BBQ Ribs, Honey Soy Chicken, Miso Glazed Salmon and Teriyaki Tofu. Prices range from £4.99 – £12.49. 

Got time to cook? How about making this Port of Prince stew from Cuba?