Ready Meal Review: Sainsbury’s Chicken & Bacon Pasta Bake

 

 

It’s pretty common knowledge that I’m not a fan of ready meals. Definitely not to live on by any means – I just don’t think they are particularly nutritious, and I also think they are a ridiculous waste of money. That said they do have their place. There are (very rare!) occasions where you don’t have any food in the house, don’t want a takeaway, and just want the comfort of something warm and stodgy. On those occasions I do see the point of ready meals. As long as they are good. To that end, I’m going to add very occasional reviews of any ready meals I eat to this blog. They will be rare because I probably eat one a term if that. But if I can’t persuade you to steer away from them all together, I can recommend ones that aren’t too offensive. And offer tips to make them better.

2014-01-08 19.16.49First up is this offering from Sainsbury’s – Chicken & Bacon Pasta Bake. Not that there was much of a ‘bake’ element with it…

I decided to buy a ready meal on this occasion because I headed back to university in the middle of my Christmas holidays for one night only. We’d also suffered a power cut in the “Storms of 2013” and so I couldn’t rely on any of my ready-frozen meals being safe, so my boyfriend and I opted for a ready meal. We bought two of these pasta dishes (at £2 each, I KNOW I could make something for the same price, if not less, that tastes far better!) along with a garlic bread and a salad. Cheaper than a takeaway, but definitely not inexpensive.

The instructions (we used the oven) were to cook for 15 minutes (lid on, but pierced), then take the lid off, stir and cook uncovered for a further 15 minutes.

The stirring part was when I encountered the first problem. It didn’t actually taste of anything except whatever herb that was in there! I panicked ever so slightly and turned to the spice rack;

2014-01-08 19.14.08I stirred in hell of a lot of black pepper, a good lot of garlic powder, and a little onion powder. This lifted the dish right up, but I’ve got to be honest, it still wasn’t great.

After it had finished cooking (including at extra 10 minutes at a higher temperature) it looked like this;

2014-01-08 19.16.32Definitely not what was advertised on the packets…where’s my crispy ‘baked’ top?! I’ve got to be really honest, I reckon this dish cried out for a cheesy topping. If I’d had some, I would have definitely added some!

Having said all that, adding all the additions definitely helped, and along with the salad and garlic bread it certainly made for a comforting dinner in front of a DVD. Would I have it again? Possibly if I was absolutely stuck. Would I rush out and get another one? No, I reckon it was overpriced for what it was, and I’d sooner try something else, just in case there’s something better. Moral of the ready meal story? Add salt, pepper, garlic and onion, and everything will taste a lot better.

2014-01-08 19.18.52

 

Do you have any ready-meal recommendations?

 

 

 

  • Ready meals ALWAYS need some sort of addition. Often salt, but I like your idea of garlic and onion powder. A sprinkling of chili flakes never goes amiss either. I’m sorry you didn’t have a choice, but I guess these do help you when you’re in a bind! I would usually go for a takeaway fried rice though…

    • To be honest I would have preferred some Fish’nChips but it was cold, wet and windy…comforting food was needed and Sainsburys is on the way from the station! I always try to keep garlic granules in the house as I find they are helpful in just about everything, particularly when a dish is nearly finished and needs a lift. Thanks for commenting 🙂

  • Great review. I try and stee away from ready meals except M&S ones… obviously they’re more exspensive but I keep an eye out for the big yellow reduction stickers!

    Love your blog, new follower ♥

    Stevie | http://www.stevieheartsmakeup.blogspot.co.uk
    xxx

    • M&S ones are good! I’m really limited in terms of ready meals anyway (tomato allergy means pretty much all but cream based ones are out!) but if I had the choice I’d go to M&S or Waitrose definitely. And thanks! Just heading over to check out yours! 🙂 x

  • I agree, a few extra tweaks and they are not half bad. Sometimes you just need something very quick x
    Heroine In Heels

    • Exactly. Whilst I don’t think I’d ever want a plain one, I do fully accept they have their place in just about any kitchen in emergencies! Thanks for commenting 🙂 x

  • There’s only one range of ready meals I’d say I’ve enjoyed and that Morrison’s NUme meals. Particularly their peppercorn chicken has a lot more flavour than you expect, the only downside is that they can occasionally be on the small side if you’ve got quite a big appetite.

    • I don’t have a Morrison’s near me, but if I do happen to go into one I’ll definitely look into this range. Thanks for the recommendation!

      • If you really fancied them, they actually do delivery to some places now I think.

        Surprisingly cheap for a whole shop compared to Tesco & Asda. Although I suppose personal preference and all that!

        Np though 🙂