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This week I am mostly eating stuff from Waitrose. Sadly…

Posted Jan 19 2013 11:56am

A couple of years ago I tried shopping at Ocado – three orders placed, three orders screwed up. Didn’t bother again. Until December, when I thought I’d give them another chance, since they kept telling me how much they’ve improved.

They have, too – three orders to date, no problems.

So in the order delivered a few days ago I got a week’s worth of ready meals. Looking at the online reviews, it was clear that many meals left an awful lot to be desired, so I limited myself to those with 4 or 5 stars, even though that meant missing out on some I’d have liked. Still, I’m happy with what I’ve got, and they’re all reassuringly weighty, and with a spread of dates sufficient that I don’t have to freeze any.

Just had a Cumberland Pie at £2.39 (basically, cottage pie topped with cheese and breadcrumbs), which was quite hefty, and pretty good (needed salt, but the damn salt police are everywhere!). Of course, the question right now is, having eaten it, how long do I get to keep it? We’ll see. (turned out OK – like last time, the barfing spell just lasted for one interminable night.)

Price-wise they compare very well with anyone else, and are heavier than the ones from Wiltshire Farm Foods – the standard ones, not the “hearty” ones.

So, in addition, I got these (all Waitrose except the obvious ones) :-

Chicken casserole 450g, £3.29

Braised beef with mash 450g, £3.29

Chicken with cheese and bacon (plus spuds and veggies) 400g, £3.29 – no reviews for this one but hopefully hard to cock up (no longer confident about that – see below).

Pegoty Hedge Traditional Fish pie 400g, £4.25 Some complaints about the mustard mash being mustardy – fine by me.

Aunt Bessie’s Toad in the Hole (frozen), 190g, £1.50 Had this years ago and not impressed. Now comes with better sausages so worth another try (if you try this, knock it out of its tray and lightly grease it, or it’ll stick with great enthusiasm!

To pad out smaller meals, like the toad and some of the WFF, I got a bag of Aunt Bessie’s frozen roasties, and some McCain’s frozen Micro Chips – a couple of the former can be tossed in the fryer, the latter can go in the microwave for the last few minutes. I’ve also bought a microwave egg poacher so I can plop an egg or two onto small meals where appropriate.

In addition I got a bunch of frozen pizzas, just to ring the changes. Something that’s not occurred to me before, but it makes sense. Not too expensive either, as they were on offer (yeah, yeah, I know – carbs and fat – don’t care!).

Along with the other stuff I ordered, it all got a bit expensive, but it does mean I don’t need to order any more food for a couple of weeks – longer if I get my act together and make some bread.

So, all things considered, a successful shop – now if my innards would just stop making life miserable, I’d be a happy bunny!

By the way, I also had the Chicken Casserole a couple of nights ago, which was dire. Ragged pieces of chicken (obviously, crudely torn from the carcase), some with a very odd texture, floated in a watery broth in which lurked uneatable slices of carrot (one slice was actually cooked – clearly a mistake), along with some unidentifiable, but at least cooked, veggies. The dumplings were – well, let’s just say that calling them “leaden” would be over-generous. Four smaller ones, rather than two large ones would have cooked better. Better yet would be to start again from scratch, using people who can actually cook. And, unbelievably, this crap got 4 stars!

I’ve just tried to post a review (the above para), only to be told “The review contains invalid characters! So I re-wrote it just leaving full-stops and commas – same result. Clearly their facility with written English is as poor as their ability to cook. I suspect that it also explains why so many dishes are un-reviewed.

I have two more Waitrose meals still to go, Braised beef with mash, and Chicken with cheese and bacon, the anticipation of which fails utterly to fill me with joy. Why is it, I wonder, that so many ready meals suck?

If you’re shopping for ready meals at Ocado then ignore the star ratings – the customers awarding 4 or 5 stars clearly have extremely low standards. Or perhaps they asked the dog…


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