Gourmade – home cooked meals straight from the freezer

Disclosure: We were sent a selection of Gourmade meals to try in return for this write up. All of our opinions and images are our own.

We are slap bang in the middle of a heatwave and I’m trying my best not to complain about the weather, but it does mean the very last thing I want to do is stand in my kitchen and slave over a hot stove. This is the weather for effort free cooking, so when I opened up my delivery from new premium frozen food brand, Gourmade I was delighted.

I’m generally a cook from scratch girl. I enjoy cooking, but sometimes I just need a night off. We don’t often eat ready-made meals, but when we do I view them as a bit of a treat, so I usually try to choose something from the premium end of the ready meal aisle.

Gourmade - home cooked meals straight from the freezer

Gourmade have recently launched in the UK. They have a great range of crowd pleasing classics including Mac n’ Cheese with bacon, Lamb Tagine, Butternut Squash Lasagne and some amazing sounding desserts for those with a sweet tooth.

Gourmade’s motto is to ‘Live More, Cook Less’. All of their meals are hand finished and frozen from fresh to lock in the nutrients. They don’t add any preservative or anything which shouldn’t be in there, it’s just good, wholesome food.

Gourmade - home cooked meals straight from the freezer

We tried a selection of their meals. The butternut squash lasagne for two,  macaroni cheese with bacon for two, cauliflower cheese, posh peas, raspberry cheesecakes and rhubarb and strawberry crumbles.

The Gourmade meals are delivered frozen and well packed in insulated bags. They go straight in the freezer and can sit there for up to three months. The larger meals for two take around 40 minutes in the oven; but they can be microwaved if you’re in a hurry. The meals for two are generous, when you’re serving them with sides they can easily stretch to three portions, which suits our family of three.

Gourmade - home cooked meals straight from the freezer

The lasagne and macaroni cheese were delicious. The lasagne was packed with butternut squash and it had a really tasty sauce. The mac cheese came with bacon and tomato and it was a real hit with my son. My only criticism would be that it was made with rigatoni not macaroni, but I’m an irritating pasta purist. It would also be nice to have this available without bacon to make it veggie friendly.

The sides we tried were excellent. The cauliflower cheese was hands down the best I’ve ever had. It had a really good cheese sauce; the cauliflower pieces were perfectly sizes and I enjoyed the cheesy, breadcrumby crispy topping. The posh peas were a combination of garden peas and edamame beans; tossed in a light sauce of crème fraiche and garden mint, then topped with streaky bacon. Again the boys loved these, and it can be tricky to get them to eat their greens, but they gobbled these all up!

Gourmade - home cooked meals straight from the freezer

The puddings, oh the puddings were so good. The raspberry cheesecakes needed to be taken out of their foil cases and left to defrost for 40 minutes, but they were as good a cheesecake as I’ve ever had. I kind of wish they did bigger family sized ones.

I wasn’t sure as first glance about the rhubarb and strawberry crumbles. I’ve never had a crumble with a pastry base, a more accurate description would be a rhubarb and strawberry crumble pie. The pastry was short and crumbly and the filling was just the right balance of tart and sweet. Again this is crying out to be served as a family sized pie.

Gourmade - home cooked meals straight from the freezer

The other puddings in the range look really good too. Desserts are often a bit of an afterthought, but I think Gourmade have really pulled out all the stops with their puddings.

Price wise, the two portion main courses cost around £7.50. The smaller portions are £4.50 and the sides cost £3.50; with puddings for two at £4.50.

Whilst I probably couldn’t afford to eat Gourmade meals every day of the week; they are for us at least the kind of thing we would order as a treat. Maybe an alternative to the Friday night takeaway, or just to have in the freezer for those nights when you need to throw a good meal together with virtually no effort. We did really enjoy our meals and I’m going to order some more to have as emergency good family meals.

For more information about Gourmade and to see their full range, visit their website.

New Healthy Ready Meals from Goodlife Foods

I’ve been a vegetarian for nearly 30 years now and I’ve often felt that vegetarians get a poor deal when it comes to ready meals. Visit any supermarket and your choice is lasagne or an insipid curry. I was pleased when I discovered that Goodlife Foods (who make a properly interesting range of veggie foods) have just started selling a small but interesting range of ready meals. 

New Healthy Ready Meals from Goodlife Foods

The new range from Goodlife Foods features two well thought out meals. Each containing 3 portions of veg and both look like the healthiest ready meals I’ve ever had in my freezer. Both of the ready meals take 8 minutes to cook from frozen in your microwave, or 35 minutes in the oven. They’re currently available online at Morrisons and Iceland and cost just £2 each. But how do they taste?

The 3 Bean Chilli with Cauliflower Rice is packed full of beans and other vegetables including sweetcorn, tomatoes and peppers. It’s served with cauliflower rice which I thought might be bland, but was a surprising hit with us all. The chilli was spicy without being too much and was well flavoured with heavy hints of smoked paprika.

New Healthy Ready Meals from Goodlife Foods

The 3 Bean Chilli with Cauliflower Rice is low fat, high in protein and full of fibre. It is Vegetarian Society approved and suitable for vegans. This 400g portion contains just 276 calories, which makes it perfect if you’re counting calories.

The second ready meal we tried was the Vegetable Masala with Cauliflower Rice. I was worried this would be yet another disappointing curry, but I was very much mistaken.

The vegetable masala was rich and creamy and tasted far naughtier than it was. The contents of the curry had been well thought out and I was pleased to see a smattering of lentils in the mix as well as chickpeas, red peppers and chucks of roasted sweet potato. It was quite delicious and I was very impressed with the depth of flavour of this meal.

New Healthy Ready Meals from Goodlife Foods

The Vegetable Masala with Cauliflower Rice is a tiny bit naughtier than the chilli butt still manages to only be 294 calories per 400g portion. It’s slightly higher in fat than the chilli, but still contains 3 portions of vegetables and is Vegetarian Society approved (it’s not suitable for vegans though). 

Both my husband and myself go through phases of being on the 5:2 diet, so these ready meals are perfect for those fast days. We were both really impressed with these Goodlife ready meals and we’re total converts to cauliflower rice now.

These meals are the kind of thing we can throw in the microwave after a busy day without having to worry about how bad what we’re eating is for us; in fact we can feel quite virtuous after eating these virtually guilt free meals!

You can find out more about Goodlife Foods including finding your local stockist and their full range on their website.

Note: I was sent these products for review purposes, all images and opinions are my own.

Review: New Blue Dragon Frozen Ready Meals

Although I like to cook from scratch as much as I can, there are times when I just want a night off and we treat ourselves to a ready meal. I’ve had some truly dreadful ready meals over the years, but I’ve also had some very good ones. We like to keep a couple of decent ones in the freezer for when I want a night off from the kitchen. We were asked to put the new range of Blue Dragon Frozen Ready Meals to the test, so what did we think?

Giveaway & Review: New Blue Dragon Frozen Ready Meals

My favourite take away is Chinese and I regularly cook Chinese style dishes or a stir fry at home. Blue Dragon is a brand name I recognise and I have several of their sauces and packets of noodles in my cupboard. We were sent the following Blue Dragon frozen ready meals to try out –

  • Chicken Chow Mein with egg noodles
  • Sweet Chilli Chicken with egg noodles
  • Chicken in Black Bean Sauce with egg fried rice
  • Sweet & Sour Chicken with egg fried rice

Giveaway & Review: New Blue Dragon Frozen Ready Meals

The new Blue Dragon frozen ready meals come in colourful packaging with a fairly good representation of what the dish looks like on the cardboard cover. The microwave cooking time for the dishes varies, but it takes less than ten minutes to cook and serve the frozen ready meal. 

The meals are easy to heat up and the chicken is in a separate compartment to the rice or noodles. The noodles stand up slightly better to being frozen and reheated, as the rice was a little on the sticky side. We are very much a noodles instead of household, so that might sway our judgement.

Giveaway & Review: New Blue Dragon Frozen Ready Meals

The sauces appear to be the same Blue Dragon sauces that you’d buy in pouches to make your own meals from scratch, so they tasted quite delicious. There was plenty of sauce in each portion too, they were not skimpy with the sauce. 

My first thought was, if you don’t like chicken you’re out of luck with these meals. Luckily my husband and son love chicken, and each meal had lots of nice chunky pieces of chicken and vegetables in them.

The meals are quite a good size and were enough to fill my two hungry boys after a long day at work and school. The meals were tasty and were popular enough for me to want to buy some more for lazy days. The boys favoured the meals with noodles as the texture of the rice was a bit sticky for their tastes.

A ready meal is never going to compare well with your favourite Chinese takeaway; but these Blue Dragon frozen ready meals are a decent approximation of what you might make at home. It would be nice to see more options than just chicken. It would be even nicer to see some vegetarian meals in this range, so we can all eat something similar together as a family.

Blue Dragon frozen ready meals are currently available for £2 from Tesco. 

Giveaway & Review: New Blue Dragon Frozen Ready Meals

Note: We were send these Blue Dragon meals for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

Curry Night with Patak’s Frozen Curries

Earlier this year Patak’s launched their new range of frozen curry ready meals. The meals in the Patak’s Frozen Curries range are beef madras, chicken korma, chicken vindaloo, king prawn balti, vegetable jalfrezi and chicken tikka masala. We were send some Patak’s frozen curries to put to the test.

One of our favourite takeaways is curry. The small boy really enjoys a chicken korma and I like a saag paneer. A takeaway curry for the three of us is about £25 and that’s a big chunk of money out of our weekly budget. We just can’t afford to spend that on one meal at home, so when we were asked to try the new Patak’s frozen curries we thought it’d be an interesting alternative.

Patak's Frozen Curries

We tried the chicken korma, king prawn balti and the vegetable jalfrezi. These are priced at £2 each and they are currently only available at Tesco. 

The ready meals weigh 425g and consist of a portion of curry and a portion of rice. The Patak’s frozen curries can be pinged in the microwave or cooked in the oven, they are meant to be cooked from frozen.

In terms of calories ready meal curries are probably a bit healthier than takeaway curries. The chicken korma contained 604 calories, the king prawn balti contained 478 calories and the vegetable jalfrezi 501 calories. We bought some naan bread to have with ours to make it feel more like a takeaway treat.

Patak's frozen curries

The small boy had his usual chicken korma. It looked and smelt good and there were good chunks of chicken breast in the curry. He didn’t complain that it was different to what he normally had, and he presented me with a clean plate at the end. The chicken korma was a success.

Hubs went for the king prawn balti. The sauce was flavoursome and complemented the sweet prawns well. He did say that it wasn’t as hot and spicy as he thought it should be. It was a medium strength curry, but he said it was quite mild. There were a good number of prawns in the curry as well as some small pieces of vegetables. I think £2 for a prawn curry is great value.

I had the vegetable jalfrezi. I thought the portion size was good, I struggled to completely finish my meal which is always a sign of a hearty portion. Again mine was a medium curry and I braced myself for a hit of spice, but found none. It was probably the mildest jalfrezi I’ve ever had. Which may disappoint some, but I was fine with that level. The vegetable jalfrezi had lots of interesting veg including sweet potato, green beans and peppers. I would probably prefer chunkier pieces of vegetables but other than that I enjoyed it.

I often find that homemade or ready meal curries, though usually nice, they’re not quite the same as a takeaway curry. I thought these were really good value, at £2 each, especially compared to what we would pay at our favourite takeaway and with the chicken korma a roaring success we’d be happy to try the rest of the range to find our favourites.

Patak’s Frozen Curries are available from Tesco’s at £2 each.

We were sent our curries for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

Curry Night with Co-operative Food

Cooking and eating are important activities in our house, my Dad (now known as Grandad) comes round for his tea at least once a week, it’s our way of ensuring that he eats a decent home-cooked meal regularly and it’s an excuse for us to have a “gravy dinner” with extra veg or something similar. Sometimes when I’m just too busy to cook we’ll get a takeaway, or get some ready meals in.

As a family we all love curry, after all it is the national dish! The problem with curry is that we all like different things, the small boy loves chicken korma, hubs likes a lamb rogan josh, Grandad likes a chicken tikka marsala and I’m a vegetable biryani kind of girl. It’s impossible to cook a curry we will all be happy with, takeaways or ready meals are where it’s at. I had noticed in my local Co-op that they’d recently launched a new range of curries, so we jumped at the chance of trying them when we were asked to have our own curry night at home.

co-op curry

We were sent the Co-op Loved by us Chicken Tikka Masala and pilau rice (500g £3.59), the Co-op Loved by us Chicken Karahi and pilau rice (500g £3.59) and the Co-op Loved by us Bengali Vegetable Masala Curry with pilau rice (500g £3.59) to try. These curries are individually priced or are available in a 2 for £6 offer.

The new range of 12 curries from Co-operative Food has been created by chef, Pratap Chinna who has over 35 years experience as a chef and has been creating exotic recipes for retailers for the last five years.

My first impression was that they smelt delicious, the Chicken Kahari one especially filled the kitchen with a lovely, mouth-watering smell which has the boys running to the table for their tea. The meals are very generously portioned, I was unable to finish mine it was so big, it’s a good sized meal for a good sized appetite.

We served our curries with naan bread and poppadoms, because no curry is complete without them. Hubs had the chicken kahari which he really enjoyed, it looked and smelt good, with big chunks of chicken and lots of sauce, he said he’d definitely have it again. The packet said medium and it had a kick of heat and was the hottest of the three curries we tried.

co-op curry

Grandad had the chicken tikka masala, again this was a good sized portion which he struggled to finish, it had a good creamy sauce and nice chunks of chicken, he enjoyed it and said he’d eat it again (which is massive praise from my Dad).

I had the Bengali Vegetable Masala Curry which was full of lots of different vegetables, the sauce was spicier than I was expecting but it was flavoursome and very filling.

As well as the price and the portion size, what I also liked about them was their calorie counts – ok so the cream-based chicken tikka marsala was 702 calories for the whole ready meal, that’s probably a lot less than a takeaway,the chicken kahari was a decent 583 calories which makes that a pretty healthy option for a meal, and my vegetable marsala was just 449 calories. They’re not made to be low-fat or low calorie, but if you’re keeping tabs on that kind of thing I thought these were pretty good calorie-wise.

We’re giving Co-op curry the thumbs up!