“ Brand: Marks and Spencer. „
I don't usually eat ready meals (don't be fooled by the fact that my last review was for a ready meal as well!) but a few weeks ago I had quite a bad day - customer meetings and not feeling very well don't mix. My husband was going to be late home and said he would get something to eat whilst he was out and so not feeling like cooking myself I popped into Marks & Spencer to see if there was anything in their ready meal section to tempt me. The reason I very rarely buy prepared food as it is usually too fatty, sugary or salty (and I normally love cooking) but my friend had told me that she was very partial to their COUNT ON US...King Prawn noodles with Japanese style sweet soy dressing meal. So I thought I would try it. Through the pinky red packaging which had a large section cut out of the front I could see cooked king prawns, tenderstem brocolli, sugar snap peas, red pepper, edamame (soya beans) on a bed of fresh egg noodles. It looked quite appetising and quite fresh. There was little visible sauce or dressing but I thought that would probably reveal itself within the noodles. This pack was enough for one serving and weighed 400g. It also stated that this pack provided 1 serving of your 5 a day. The nutritional traffic light system also showed that the pack contained 400 calories 31.2g protein 62.4g carbohydrate 4,4g fat 9.6g fibre 1.8g salt The allergy advice and warnings are as follows: contains eggs, fish, shellfish, soya, wheat, gluten and may also contain small pieces of shell. Overall this is quite healthy as part of a balanced diet. The salt content was quite high (30% GDA) but as I don't eat much salt anyway it was ok just this once. Where I didn't think it was too healthy was for my bank balance - at £3.99 I thought this was quite alot. I know that if I were to have bought the ingredients to make it from scratch it would have been more expensive (due to having to buy more than I needed) but I could have made 5 or 6 meals for £8. But as a convenient one off (and for someone with a thumping headache), I was fairly happy to pay this for it (just this once!). When I got home I read the cooking instructions on the back and dutifully removed the outer sleeve and pierced the film before putting it in the microwave. For my 850w microwave the cooking instruction was 2 mins 45 secs. You can also cook it in the oven for 13 mins at 190 degrees C / 165 degree C for a fan oven. I was quite impressed with how little time it took to cook as I was quite hungry and as I was in a "I can't be bothered mood" it suited me just fine. 2 mins 45 secs plus 1 minute standing time later and I peeled back the film and gave the product a stir to ensure that it was piping hot all the way through. The dressing is fairly authentic as it is made from Fish stock, Soybean paste, Sugar, Sake, Ginger, Sunflower oil, Lime juice,Coriander, Lemon grass and Red chilli but the first thing that I noticed was the smell of ginger as I peeled back the film. It was more like pickled ginger rather than fresh ginger which added to the authenticity. There wasn't much sauce in the pack but it was just enough to lightly coat all of the noodles, prawns and vegetables. I would have preferred more sauce but it was just enough to ensure that it wasn't a dry eating experience. There were 8 cooked King Prawns which is quite generous for a single portion meal but unfortunately because they had been cooked previously once I had heated it up they had quite an overcooked texture and they were really quite bland. The tenderstem broccoli was nice and tender but not great tasting. The edamame were not as nice as they normally are when they are freshly blanched. The slithers of red pepper were very watery and yet the sugar snaps were fairly ok. The noodles were the saving grace of the dish. They had a lovely texture and tasted ok with the sauce. The sauce wasn't the greatest but it was acceptable and to be honest I would have been happy just the noodles and sauce without the prawns and vegetables. What I was impressed about though was that this ready meal actually filled me up. A couple of hours later and I wasn't feeling hungry at all. One of my biggest gripes with "healthy" ready meals is that they usually just cut down on the portion size and substitute the fatty elements with tastless low fat substitutes. This meal was just low fat foods which in principal could have tasted great but was let down by being over cooked and a little overprepared. Would I recommend it - well I suppose I would because compared to alot of ready meals it is fairly healthy. It was recommended to me by my friend who lives on ready meals and she loves it so as an expert in these matters that must be saying something. But for me it's only something that I would buy as a one off - I couldn't have this as part of my regular diet - I like cooking too much and I would rather make something like this from scratch.