Just before New Year, I had a good sort through my money-off vouchers drawer (which is also full of all sorts of other
important papers junk) to check that I didn't have any vouchers that were about to expire. Sure enough, I came across some vouchers that I'd received from Birds Eye to take part in a 10-minute meals challenge. We love Birds Eye products here at The Madhouse and frequently tuck into their fishfingers, potato waffles and frozen peas, more often than not all on the same plate ! This time, however, I decided to venture into the more grown-up side of their product range, first choosing their Inspirations Fish Chargrills and Steamfresh frozen rice.
The Inspirations Fish Chargrills come in three flavours : Juicy Lemon, Rosemary & Thyme, Thai Coconut & Lemongrass and (the one that we chose) Sun Ripened Tomato, Basil & Oregano. I wasn't overly impressed when I took them out of the pack because they look like big fish fingers and the regular shape suggests that they are made of mashed up fish rather than premium fillets. They are dead easy to prepare though - just oven bake from frozen for half an hour in the foil tray that they come in.
I've never cooked frozen rice before either so I was very impressed to see that it comes in handy pyramid pouches that go straight in the microwave from frozen and are ready in just three minutes. We have tried the Fragrant Golden Vegetable Rice and the Mediterranean Vegetable Rice but it is also available in Egg Fried Rice and Cantonese Vegetable Rice.
Well, I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised. The rice was perfectly cooked, slightly al dente and bursting with flavour, while the fish was really juicy and fresh-tasting, flaking into genuine pieces of fish rather than the reconstituted mush that I was expecting. I will definitely be buying these again because they are absolutely ideal after a busy day at work.
Staying on the meals in minutes theme, we also tried some of the Stir Your Senses range, which are designed as quick stir-cooked meals that can be prepared in a pan from frozen in just 10 minutes. What I liked less about this range is that it comes in single serve bags, making it very expensive as a family meal or even dinner for two because each bag costs £2.99 (although there are lots of offers with some for as little as £1 a bag, so check out the different promotions on a comparison site like mysupermaket.co.uk). It's great as an alternative to takeaway though or if you need a solo meal.
The range is split into four international categories:
· Italian – pasta dishes including Tagliatelle con Porcini, Penne all’Arrabiata con Pollo, Pappardelle alla Bolognese, Gnocchi con Gorgonzola and Rigatoni alla Carbonara
· Thai – Thai Chicken with Basmati Rice, a vibrant Thai curry
· Indian – South Indian Chicken Curry in a rich sauce with fragrant, flavourful rice
· Spanish – Paella is often a dish enjoyed in a group, but Birds Eye’s Spanish Paella with Chicken and Prawn lets you enjoy the excitement of this Spanish classic with or without company
Here's the contents of the Rigatoni alla Carbonara bag straight from the freezer. You get chunks of frozen sauce alongside the pasta.
You add a few spoonfuls of water and heat it on a high heat for 8 minutes and it's ready to go. It tasted great - above all, it tasted fresh which was great because I wondered if the pasta would go soggy. I was a bit shocked at the calories count though - 590 calories and 26g of fat, of which 14g saturates (which is 70% of your RDA) per portion - so if they could reduce that a bit, that would be even better.
Overall though, I was pleasantly surprised to see that you can get satisfying and tasty meals in such a short time without any forward planning because they can be cooked straight from frozen. They're a great standby to keep in the freezer for nights when you're just too tired or short on time to cook from scratch.
Disclosure : I received some vouchers in order to write an honest review.