Now, everyone has nights where they get in from a long or tiring day and you can think of nothing worse than spending longer than a few minutes in the kitchen preparing dinner. This isn’t something that happens to me often, but it does happen and when it does I like to be prepared. This usually comes in the form of a ready meal, or at the very least a meal that requires little to no effort to put together. However, I think it’s hard to find a good gluten-free ready meal. So when I saw these Kirsty’s meals on offer in Sainsburys, I thought I’d give them a try out.
To start, I tried the classic beef lasagne, of which I am a huge fan. Normally what I do is make a massive portion from scratch and then freeze the rest so that when I know I won’t have time in the evenings to cook, it’s already all done for me. However, I haven’t had the time of energy to do this recently, so I thought this would be the next best thing! I cooked this in the microwave because I was lazy and super hungry, so into the microwave it went while I made myself a cuppa and got an episode of The Bachelorette ready. When I took it out, the first thing I noticed was the top seemed to be very liquidy. Now, I’m all for a creamy sauce, but this was just a bit odd. I don’t think you can really see it in the pictures above, but the whole right hand side seem to just be liquid. So I decided to put it back into the microwave in the hopes that the sauce might thicken a little bit, which it did but only the tiniest bit. You can see in the pictures below, that the sauce was really quite thin.
Like I said, I like a creamy sauce, but it was just a bit too thin for my liking. The biggest thing that put me off though was how bland it tasted. Honestly, you could barely taste there was any meat between the pasta layers, and the meat I did taste, didn’t really taste of anything. Also, the layers were so so thin, even with the little bit of meat that was left in the pot when I took the lasagne out, I would hardly call them layers. Honestly, this was a definite disappointment and I won’t be picking it up again.
The next meal I decided to try was the cottage pie with sweet potato mash. Now I love cottage pie and I also love sweet potatoes so I thought this was going to be a slam dunk. The first thing I noticed when I took this out of the microwave was the smell. It smelt really good, and after the disaster I had with the lasagna, this was a great sign. As you can see it didn’t hold up its shape particularly well, but then when do ready meals ever do that? I had a mouthful of the mince on its own first, and I was pleasantly surprised. It had flavour and definitely wasn’t as bad as the lasagne. However, when I tried the mash, the let down’s began again. it was like mush. Actual mush. I thought that maybe with the meat it wouldn’t taste too bad, but the mush took away whatever little flavour there was and the more I ate the more I found that the meat to mash ratio was way off. Having more mash that meat normally doesn’t bother me in the slightest, (I’m a huge mash fiend) but at least make the mash taste good! While definitely not as much of a let down as the lasagne, it certainly wasn’t great.
This was probably the best meal of the three, although it still wasn’t great. The mash was okay but not great and to be honest I thought they were a little stingy with the portion size. (Then again that may just be because I always have a massive pile of mash!) The beef was quite tender which was really nice because I find beef in ready meals can be really tough sometimes, however there wasn’t a great amount of flavour. The best thing about it was the gravy, and mixed with the mash made it much more enjoyable. It’s very basic and didn’t have a lot of flavour (which seems to be a recurring theme here), but I was happy that the beef was soft and that the mash didn’t just taste like mush.
Would I buy these meals again? Short answer: no. While it was great to see gluten-free specific ready meals on the supermarket shelve, I just wasn’t very impressed and to be honest would have preferred to spend the extra time making something home-made!