“ Brand: Tesco / Type: Other Ready Meals „
I chose this product because it looked tasty and possibly even healthy (it being vegetarian and 'freshly prepared'). I was really looking forward to what I anticipated to be a tomato and lentil shepherd's pie. It was the most disappointing meal I've had in a long time. There was practically no lentil in the product. It is basically a meal consisting almost entirely of mashed potato. If I wanted to eat mashed potato for dinner would have bought some potatos to mash. On closer inspection of the packet it contains a measley 7% lentil and whatever 'tomato' there is in there turns into a bit of 'tomato potato mash'. Most disappointing, I certainly won't be choosing this product again. Tesco, please give us a proper vegetarian shepherds pie with vegetables other than potato.
As I mentioned in another review, despite trying to cook from scratch and be healthy, there are times when life gets the better of me and I'm scouring the chilled shelves in the supermarket looking for something quick! Last week, the day at work, followed by a shopping trip which was interrupted by an unexpected visit to A&E, and then resumed several hours later - led me to just this situation!
I'm Vegetarian, and I am trying to diet, so healthy food was the order of the day. Tesco have a new range of Vegetarian ready meals called "Pick Me" and packaged very attractively in lidded cardboard cartons. (Inside is a more usual plastic pot with cellophane lid.) There were several options, all of which sounded good, but I decided to go for the "Shepherd's Pie (Without the Sheep)".
Pick Me is a new range and at the moment seems to be only available in Tesco. There is a website, www.pickmefoods.co.uk - but to be honest it isn't worth looking at yet, being just a holding page. The meals are more expensive than average chilled ready to cook products. Priced at between £3.99 and £4.99 they are also substantially more that Tesco's own Healthy Eating Range, although currently there is a discount and my Shepherd's Pie cost £3.49.
Pick Me appear to be going for a similar demographic as that targeted by Innocent Smoothies. The off white cardboard box features a red apple with the words "PICK ME" in the middle. Quirky phrases and pictures are used to put across the brand message, including vegetables declaring "Every Revolution starts Underground" and "Rise up Brothers", and the meal itself is described as "A Flock of Tasty Vegetables Grazing in a Creamy Mash". Yes, sounds a bit kooky, doesn't it? If you like the sense of humour on Innocent cartons you'll probably smile at this one too.
However, more important (because this is food, after all!) are the declarations "Freshly prepared" and "Equal to TWO of your Five a day". I'm not really sure what freshly prepared means, isn't everything freshly prepared in the first place, and then maybe frozen or left kicking about a bit? I tend to be a bit cynical about this sort of thing, but my best guess is that the food is prepared from ingredients that were fresh at the time of preparation, rather than already frozen or canned or whatever, and in this case I have to say that I believe them. The meal has to be kept chilled, and can be frozen for up to one month.
At 400g this is not a huge serving, and the packaging suggests that it would be ideal served with a green salad. This meal contains only 321 kcals, which was great for me, but someone who is not trying to decrease their calorie intake may wish to supplement with something more substantial than a salad. Unfortunately, due to the aforementioned situation of being shattered and frazzled, I opted to microwave this meal rather than the recommended and undoubtedly much better option of heating it in the oven. Cooking time was 20-25 mins in the oven compared with super zappy 3 minutes in the microwave.
Having been microwaved, the mash was very pale and not lovely and crispy, but this is my own fault! It was certainly very creamy and the vegetable and lentil mixture below it was very tasty and filling. I was really impressed with this, it tastes as close to home cooked as you are going to get in a carton from a supermarket, and is a great stop gap. I'm also very impressed that the meal contains no artificial additives; no flavourings, colours or preservatives; no e-numbers; no "GM nasties" and is made in the UK. No wonder it costs that bit more than the usual mush. I think it is worth it, although that doesn't mean I can afford to buy many of these!
Pick Me loses one star, simply because the attractive packaging is a terrible waste of paper. It looks great, but they really need to come up with another solution. The carton is, of course, recyclable. Other than this, top marks!
Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie.