Friday 16 October 2015


I haven't had a ready meal in years.  They conjure up memories of my student days. The sound of a fork piercing the plastic, the ping of the microwave, the steam when you peel back the film...processed dinner in a black plastic container. Yum! Don't worry I know I'm exaggerating, things have improved a lot since the ready meals of the 90's and I'm not claiming to be completely virtuous by any means. I always have a pizza or a pie in the freezer and I use pre-prepared vegetables more often than I can justify. But still, it was with slight trepidation I entered the COOK shop the other day. 

I happened to stumble across a branch while I was out on one of my escapades with SG. My curiosity got the better of me. COOK claims to make 'home-cooked' ready meals, made in their kitchens in Kent and frozen within one hour of production. The range was amazing. Indian, Chinese, Italian, British, Thai, you name it. Starters, main course and desserts. Servings for one person, two people, families of four, dinner parties and a special childrens range with no added sugar or salt. There was definitely something for everybody. I had only intended to window shop but I couldn't resist. So last night we had pork and beef meatballs in tomato sauce. I made the rice myself and I couldn't resist whipping up a side of garlic spinach, as a meal without veggies always feels incomplete to me. 

The end result was good but it also reminded me why I love to cook. By cooking yourself you can make dishes exactly the way you love them. COOK's Meatballs in a Rustic Tomato Sauce were perfectly good. The portion was generous for 2 people, the meatballs good quality and it really did feel home-cooked. But for me the sundried tomatoes made the sauce a bit too sweet and the large meatballs gave the dish a dense meaty taste. In my opinion smaller meatballs would have given a better sauce to meat ratio. But the fact it gave me a night off cooking made the compromises worthwhile. I may not buy this dish again but I will definitely be going back to COOK to try something else. In fact I have a one person portion of Chicken Pad Thai waiting in the freezer. All I need now is for N to make other plans...

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