Monday, 13 September 2021

What's Cooking At The Madhouse ? menu plan week 38

We're pretty much back into routine and it all seems to be going quite well so far. Weather-wise, it's really hot and humid, so I think I'll stick to summer-type recipes for a while. The winter warmers can hang on for a bit ! Everything from last week worked really well. Pierre absolutely loved the chorizo and bean stew and it's so simple, I've told him he can make it all by himself for lunch, if he likes. The Southern-style chicken was a big hit too and it's convinced me that the kids are ready for me to start adding more spice to the meals - sounds good to me ! Here's this week's plan.


lunch- canteen for me

dinner - creamy mushrooms and chicken with colcannon mash (I'll use leeks instead of cabbage) and peas


lunch- canteen for me


lunch- BBQ minced beef pies with mash & veg


lunchcanteen for me - leftovers for the kids

dinner- chicken fajitas


lunch- tomato, pepper and courgette tart (a Sophie invention that she will make while I'm at work !) with salad

dinner - slow cooker BBQ beef with rice and homemade coleslaw


lunch- McDonald's, probably

dinner- cauliflower cheese for me and Juliette, pasta bake for Pierre and Sophie


lunch- roast chicken, roast potatoes, stuffing and veg

***Click on my Menu Plans tag to see all my other weekly menu plan blogposts.***


Saturday, 11 September 2021

August 2021 Degustabox review : Back To School & On The Go

A few weeks ago, the postie dropped off our August Degustabox. How can that only be a few weeks ago? It seems like months have passed by, what with days out, catching up with family and going back to school ! It really was just a few short weeks ago though and now, we're back into long school days and piles of homework to work through - awww ! Luckily, last month's Degustabox was packed with treats to keep smiles on everyone's faces !

Here's the contents of the box, laid out to give you a better idea of what was hiding inside. I could instantly spot things for family meals, teenage snacks and cheeky treats to share - perfect !

The first thing that we pulled out was two packs of Lady Gaga Oreo Cookies (RRP 2 x £1.08). Now, I know all about normal Oreos - the kids regularly hoover them up while doing their homework ! - but I had no idea that Lady Gaga had got involved somewhere along the way. Juliette did though and she was all excited, until Sophie said that these are regular coloured Oreos, not the green and pink Lady Gaga ones that were released in America, because the food colours aren't allowed in Europe/the UK. I have no idea but I couldn't actually tell any difference whatsoever with regular Oreos ! They taste very nice though, with their chocolate flavour biscuit and vanilla cream filling.

Pagen Gifflar Cinnamon Rolls (RRP £1.70) are a delicious sweet treat that the kids loved munching on, for breakfast along with a glass of orange juice or just as a snack throughout the day. They are lovely and soft with a tasty swirl of cinnamon. I can definitely see us buying these again. They're available at Tesco, Asda and Ocado.

5th Season Freeze-Dried Sensational Strawberries (RRP £1.50) were another big hit with the kids. Each pack contains 80g of fruit and nothing is added - no hidden nasties whatsoever. The soft, crunchy texture that melts in your mouth and the rich strawberry flavour give you the impression that you're nibbling on something decadent but the whole pack only contains 30 calories. Available at Sainsbury's, The Good Club, Mighty Small, Amazon and on

Cirio Pasta Sauce Ragùs (RRP £2) are perfect when you get in late from work and need a simple but great tasting meal that can be on the table in minutes. We got the Mushrooms & Sausage variety, but other options are Beef, Pork & White Wine or Pancetta, Mushrooms & Grilled Peppers. The rustic style sauces are made with 100% Italian meat and tomatoes plus extra virgin olive oil. I usually like to add extra fresh vegetables, such as onions, peppers and mushrooms, to jars of pasta sauce, but this really didn't need it. Even the kids approved ! Available in Ocado.

Skippy Choc Chip Swirl Peanut Butter (RRP £2.65) is, just as the name suggests, a smooth, creamy peanut butter, swirled with lots of melted chocolate pieces. I have to admit, I wasn't sure about this combination but Pierre has been slathering it on bread and toast and gobbling it up in record time ! We'll definitely be buying this again, as the current jar has almost all gone ! Available at Morrisons and on Ocado.

Virtue Clean Energy Drink (RRP £1.50) is a healthier version of an energy drink. We got the Lemon & Lime flavour, while other Degustaboxers got Berries. It contains zero sugar and zero calories and is made with all natural ingredients. It offers the same amount of caffeine (80mg) as the leading energy drinks or coffee and the natural energy is sourced from green coffee beans. I passed this on to Sophie, who said it was very nice.

Knorr Zero Salt Veggie Stock Cubes (RRP £1.49) is part of a new range of products that have been awarded the prestigious Netmums Recommended Accreditation, with 93% of testers saying that they'd recommend them to friends and family. The range, which includes Chicken and Beef flavours, is the first zero salt option available. They're great for adding depth of flavour to casseroles, sauces and soups and you really don't notice the lack of salt.

Up & Go Banana & Honey Breakfast Drinks (RRP £1 for a single unit, £2.75 for a multipack of 3) are perfect for breakfast on the go when you're running late or for sticking in the kids' school bags when they can't face eating before heading out of the door. Each carton is made with milk and oats, is high in protein, fibre and calcium and has the same sugar content as a glass of semi-skimmed milk. If you don't like banana flavour (personally, I don't, but the kids did !), there is also a chocolate variety. Available at Tesco, Morrisons and on Ocado, currently only as a multipack.


Nescafé Gold Iced Salted Caramel Latte (RRP £2.98) is this month's Product of the Month and it is the perfect drink to enjoy during the current heatwave (in September ?! It's even hotter than back in August !) Just add cold water and ice then settle down to enjoy a deliciously milky drink with a hint of salted caramel flavour and velvety froth. I'm not a coffee fan but Sophie thinks they're delicious.

Shreddies "The Simple One" (RRP £2.50) is a cereal option that contains less than 5% sugar and is made with just four simple ingredients : whole grain wheat, sweetened with banana puree and date syrup, along with a pinch of salt. I hate all the overly sweet cereal options so this makes a nice change, although I do like to throw in some fresh fruit or yogurt to jazz things up a bit. 

Tweek Sour Supreme (RRP £1.99) are, as it says on the pack, "sweets with benefits". They contain 95% less sugar, are high in fibre, provide 45% less calories and are made with natural flavours and colours. Nevertheless, they taste just as good as regular sweets and the kids gobbled them up !

Clif Bar (RRP 75p for the 28g bar, £1.69 for the 68g bar) is described as the ultimate energy bar designed for active lifestyles that incorporates plant-based ingredients from sustainable sources. We got two flavours, out of the six available - White Chocolate Macadamia and Crunchy Peanut Butter. Both got a big thumbs up in terms of flavour and also for being good for the planet.

There are several brands in this month's box that we'll definitely be throwing in our trolley on a semi-regular basis !

 A subscription to Degustabox costs £12.99 per month including delivery, with each box having a value of much more than that, but the great news is, I have a discount coupon code for you which means you'll get the first box for just £9.99 - enter code PKUFE at the checkout. 

for more information :

Also now on Instagram @DegustaboxUK

Disclosure : We received the box in order to write an honest review. As a Degustabox blogger, I receive all of the products that go into the monthly boxes, but subscribers may not get exactly the same selection.

Tuesday, 7 September 2021

Missing travel? Forget your passport, grab a book ! (review)

Did you manage to get away on holiday this year? We visited family in the UK and went on a mini adventure in Belgium, but that was it. No big trips planned for us again, as, even though we're all double vaccinated, I just didn't feel at ease with travelling to exotic, far-flung places. I do miss it though - seeing new places, meeting new people, tasting exotic dishes and discovering things that are completely different to anything we find at home. Luckily, publishers Cranthorpe Millner came to the rescue and sent me some fabulous books that gave me the travel experiences without leaving the comfort of my favourite armchair !

My first read was Secret Lands, Petrol Clams and a Bagful of Bolivar by Sharon Cracknell, author of the fabulously-named previous book, Pringles, Visas and a Glow in the Dark Jesus. The titles tell you everything you need to know about her writing style - she's full of exciting travel stories about off-the-wall places that cannot fail to make you laugh. You know all those things that go wrong on holiday but you say, "Ah well, at least we'll remember this and get a good story out of it" ? Well, imagine that to the power of a hundred and you'll have a good idea of what to expect in Sharon's writing !

I love the way the book instantly had me googling things before I'd even turned to the first page. I'd never heard of bolivar so I was intrigued to find out what it referred to. A quick google search revealed that it is the currency in Venezuela. Aha ! Sure enough, stories are revealed about Sharon quaking at the airport as her bag stuffed with illegal banknotes goes through a Venezuelan airport scanner. And petrol clams? Well, yes, google had the answer again. It's a traditional North Korean way of preparing clams on a barbecue by dousing them in petrol then setting them on fire. Sounds crazy ... and probably tastes crazy too !

Even those places that are not so far off the beaten track are revealed in new ways. Whilst giggling at Sharon's tales of dodging epic farty-pants on a hike up Mount Toubkal, I was surprised to learn that this is in Morocco, a country I've been to. It's also the highest peak in the Atlas Mountains. How had I never even heard of it ?!

This is the beauty of the book. As well as being an enjoyable read, it is an educational and informative one. Sharon goes to places that most people, even those who enjoy travelling, will never go to. Ethiopia, Cuba, Columbia, North Korea, Tanzania, ...  even Kyrgyzstan, that I'd never even heard of !

The next book that I discovered was Because Japan by Ash Watson. The tone is quite similar and frequently had me chuckling as I raced through the pages. It focuses on the time that author Ash Watson spent in Japan, in particular the two years he lived in Tokyo, working in a private high school. Japan is a country that is frequently shown on TV and in magazine articles, but here, you get the real deal - what life is like behind the scenes in Japan, through the eyes of an expat. The Journal of Firsts, kept by Ash during his time there, to record all the weird and wonderful experiences along the way, became the basis for his book. It's an interesting and intriguing collection of memories, covering everything from the ultra modern (Pokemon Go) to the ancient and symbolic (Mount Fuji). 

While the tales of culture shock are perfectly predictable, the author also faces bigger issues involving mental health, racial discrimination and sexual orientation. While developing a new understanding of the country around him, the author looks deep within himself and grows as a person. That sounds very serious though, whereas the main thing I brought away from this book was a bagful of belly laughs !

The Banana Road by Andrea Montgomery is subtitled It's Tenerife But Not As You Know It. Well, that's not complicated for me as I've never been to Tenerife, but we did take a family trip to another of the Canary Islands, Lanzarote, a few years ago. I had some misgivings about going before we left and, I must admit, when we arrived, I was put off by all the cafes selling full English breakfasts and English-speaking bars which just seemed like any random British seaside town with a bit more sunshine. However, we hired a car and travelled further afield, giving us an insight into what life was really like away from the touristy areas. This is what the author does, telling the story of her time in Tenerife, getting to know the locals (humans and animals !) and really discovering how the locals live.

Along with her husband Jack, she set off from Manchester to discover a new life in the north of the island, in a little house surrounded by banana plantations and a pitch 'n' putt golf course. The people that they come into contact with are so weird and wonderful (with the accent on weird !) that it is sometimes hard to remember that this all really happened ! As well as providing a great deal of humour and an insight into what life is like on the other side, so to speak, we also get to see what happens when things start to go wrong. This book constantly had me reading just one more chapter before turning off the light, even when it was already way past my bedtime, because I wanted to see what would happen to the couple and their dreams of a new life in an exotic location. I'd love to catch up with their story and see what happens next !

for more information :

Disclosure : I received review copies of the books, n order to share my honest opinion.

Sunday, 5 September 2021

What's Cooking At The Madhouse ? menu plan week 37

We went back to school at the end of last week and, while Pierre and Juliette are both a bit underwhelmed at the moment, I'm actually quite pleased with my timetable this year. I have Wednesday off and Friday afternoon off so I will be a lady of leisure ! Well, hopefully it'll all be a bit less manic than the last couple of years anyway ! Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, I'll be at the school canteen so the kids will be fending for themselves. I'll make a rough plan but it's up to them what they eat. (I can see Sophie taking over on cooking when I'm not there.)


lunch- canteen for me - leftover roast chicken & potatoes for those at home

dinner - meatballs and pasta (with onions, red pepper, mushrooms)


lunch- canteen for me, the kids can sort themselves out (leftovers or sandwiches probably)

dinner- baked potatoes with chorizo and bean stew


lunch- Portuguese-style pork bifana sandwiches with wedges and coleslaw

dinner- Provençal chicken (minus the aubergine as I don't like them !) with rice


lunchcanteen for me - leftovers for the kids

dinner- spaghetti bolognese


lunch- beefburgers and couscous (with leftover coleslaw, if there is any)

dinner Baked Southern-style chicken with rice and coleslaw


lunch- maybe a trip to McDonald's - if not, pasta carbonara

dinner- pizza


lunch- chicken & veg stew with gratin dauphinois (potato bake)

dinner- cheese on toast

***Click on my Menu Plans tag to see all my other weekly menu plan blogposts.***


Sunday, 29 August 2021

What's Cooking At The Madhouse ? menu plan week 36

We're back ... again ! Did you miss me ?! After our trip around Belgium, we got back home, settled back in, then decided to make a last minute trip back to the UK to catch up with my family. It cost a fortune (top whack prices for the Eurostar, as it's August, plus they're only running one train per day) plus train tickets from Dunkerque to Lille and from London to Hastings), then the silly prices for the COVID tests (we're all double vaccinated, even the kids, and we got free ones two days before leaving France, but still needed to pay for non-NHS ones for two days after we arrived in England - about £60-80 per person, which is a bit of a killer, as we all knew they'd be negative - ah well !). Well, we're now back home and getting ready to go back to school on Wednesday (me) and Thursday/Friday (the kids).


lunch- tacos with salad, guacamole, cheese, tomatoes, etc

dinner - Pineapple pork chops with red peppers, onions and broccoli, served with rice (one from our last menu plan that never got made)


lunch- last restaurant meal out as a family before we go back to school

dinner- Pulled chicken in BBQ sauce with broccoli and mash


lunch- I'll be eating at school - the kids can have leftovers

dinner- cottage pie


lunch - I'll be at school - fridge grazing for the kids (there should be leftovers)

dinner- smoked paprika chicken with rice and broccoli/carrots/peas


lunch- I'll probably be at school again (I won't know until I get my timetable on Wednesday) so the kids have free reign of the kitchen

dinner - spaghetti carbonara


lunch- omelettes for those who like them, leftovers for the others

dinner- Sophie's bagels (chicken or bacon/egg with Philadelphia & salad/tomatoes) with wedges (she assures me they're lovely and it sounds like she's cooking - even better !)


lunch- roast dinner (we have gravy granules and apple sauce again - woohoo !)

dinner- toast or sandwich for anyone who's hungry

***Click on my Menu Plans tag to see all my other weekly menu plan blogposts.***


Thursday, 19 August 2021

HEXBUG Junkbots review

HEXBUG have launched a new project that merges toys with entertainment through a new eight-part digital series and game on the Roblox platform based on Junkbots. (More about that at the end of the review.) The series and Roblox game will follow a new adventure that all kicked off when Junkbot Jack Static received a cryptic radio transmission. To celebrate the launch, Pierre was delighted to receive a package containing lots of Junkbots, as well as some sweets and popcorn to accompany our movie night.

We started off with the smallest product in the range, the Junkbots Trash Bin (RRP £4.99). This cool bin-shaped box contains 15 pieces of rubbish to dig through.

Here's what we got inside this trash can. The little black bin bags have extra secret pieces of rubbish to open up and discover. The grown-ups in the family instantly picked up the little pieces of paper, unfolded them and tried to find the pieces necessary to recreate the character shown. Pierre just jumped in and started fitting random pieces together. Well, he got on better than we did, so I think he had the right idea - or we were just useless ! - but either way, he loved developing new characters and seeing what he could slot together.

We moved on to the bigger Junkbots Industrial Dumpster (RRP £19.99), which is the biggest box in the range. It contains a whopping 50 pieces to discover and get creative with.

As well as lots more intriguing black bags to investigate, this pack includes special elements to allow you to animate your bots with a motor or dynamic vibrations or add a light-up cover.

Pierre emptied out the final product - the Junkbots Dumpster (RRP £9.99), which is the twin-pack, top left in the top picture. This contains 30 pieces, plus an energy module, allowing you to build two different Junkbot figures (or just get creative, as we did). Time to let your imagination run wild and fit pieces together !

There are all sorts of interesting things in there, including a chainsaw, a birdhouse, a cowboy hat, a broken tennis racket, plus lots of interesting product packaging to discover.

Here's one of the Junkbots (minus the arms !) that Pierre put together following the character sheets.

And here's another character that he completely made up. I love the concept of creative play, just letting the kids loose on all the interesting little bits to see what they can find and how they can fit together. It is the perfect toy for one child to play with on his own or two or more siblings or friends to work on together. I will be honest - we totally missed the energy/movement modules, so we'll have to look out for those the next time we get it all out !

Head over to HEXBUG Official on YouTube to start watching the series and join in the fun with the launch of the Roblox game on 20th August.

Instagram and Twitter : @HEXBUGUK
Facebook : Hexbug UK

Disclosure : We received the products in order to write a review.

Sunday, 8 August 2021

What's Cooking At The Madhouse ? menu plan week 33

Last week worked well, using up lots of things from the freezer. We've been picking up lots of Too Good To Go packs lately so there are quite a few random bits in there at the moment ! Sophie is off visiting friends in the Netherlands for the first half of the week, so we can catch up on eating things she doesn't like, like fish and cauliflower cheese. The weather is dull and rainy so it's more like autumn at the moment - I'm not sure whether to plan on salads and summery food or just get the slow cooker out !


lunch- battered fish with rice, peas and carrots

dinner - cauliflower cheese (Pierre can have pasta with bacon instead)


lunch- lunch with a friend (if Pierre's feeling up to it, as he has his second covid jab in the morning)

dinnerJuicy chicken thighs with leftover cauliflower cheese and/or salad


lunch-  Pineapple pork chops (I'll go for the option with added red peppers, onions and broccoli) with rice


lunch - time to use up leftovers

dinner- lamb couscous


lunchHomemade breakfast sausage patties in buns with potato wedges and salad (ooh, I fancy making coleslaw to go with this actually)

dinner - Easy butter chicken with rice


lunch- maybe McDonald's - if not, spaghetti bolognese

dinner- probably more leftovers to use up


lunch- roast potatoes with pork chops, veg & gravy

dinner- cheese on toast or leftovers

***Click on my Menu Plans tag to see all my other weekly menu plan blogposts.***


Thursday, 5 August 2021

Book review : Safe Harbour (Sgt. Windflower Book 10) - Mike Martin

I've just finished reading Safe Harbour, the latest instalment in the cosy life (and not quite so cosy job) of Sgt. Windflower, the kind-hearted Cree RCMP officer who has resettled (albeit temporarily, as he suggests partway through the novel) in St John's, a larger town close to their regular haunt of Grand Bank, that allows his wife Sheila to follow her studies at the university.

Windflower has taken on a desk job and isn't overly enthused by the introductory online course that he has to follow. Another downside is the big RCMP outreach van that he has to drive around in, constantly waving at people and agreeing to be taken in photographs.

Wandering around downtown, he spots a poster informing people about a missing girl, which leaps out at him because her parents come from Grand Bank. Over the coming days and weeks, more signs go up about other girls and Windflower is drafted in on a new mission between the two towns to try to uncover a sinister human trafficking plot. This brings in worrying tales of biker gangs, underage prostitution and drug gangs that show a bleaker side to this wintry wonderland.

Luckily, Windflower is there to put a positive spin on things, enjoying his family life, moaning in ecstasy as Sheila provides yet another plateful of delicious home-cooked fayre and branching out on a new project - building a skating rink in his back garden ! Their girls are growing up fast - daughter Amelia Louise has definitely inherited a cheeky streak of sassiness and a love of good food from her father and adopted daughter Stella, who joined them in the previous book, has settled into her new family life but finds it hard to talk. Sheila is on the case though and I'm sure this struggle to overcome the traumas of her early life will be picked up in the next book.

It's a peaceful, stress-free read, despite the difficult cases that Windflower is working on, and you'll come out of it with a smile on your face, feeling like you've spent a week catching up with your best friends in their happy family home, rather than worriedly following the local crimes that could give you nightmares.

star rating : 4/5

RRP : £11.59

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Ottawa Press and Publishing Mystery (31 May 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 262 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1988437733
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1988437736
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 15.24 x 1.68 x 22.86 cm

Disclosure : I received a review copy of the book.

Monday, 2 August 2021

What's Cooking At The Madhouse ? menu plan week 32

You may have noticed I didn't do a menu plan last week. That was because we headed off on an impromptu trip on the train to Belgium for the week. It was nice to have a change of scene and wander around Antwerp and Brussels, taking in the sights, and we managed to avoid the rain. (It had all been flooding the week before.) The kids particularly had fun checking out a "selfie museum" with loads of props and decors for taking snaps to share on social media and a virtual reality experience, plus checking out the old monuments like the Manneken Pis. But now we're back and I'm looking forward to taking some time to deal with jobs around the house and just chilling out for a while ! Here's this week's menu plan, but I haven't been to the shops yet so things might change.


lunch- pork chops, rice and grilled courgettes/onions/red peppers

dinner - I had planned on making chilli con carne but the kids asked for kebabs ... well, it's too hot to cook so why not ?!


lunch- lunch with a friend

dinner- probably leftovers from the kebabs ... if not, spaghetti bolognese


lunch- beefburgers and tomato rice (I'm not too sure about adding cinnamon so I might just leave that out !)

dinner minced beef tacos or fajitas with loads of salad, guacamole and rice

lunchchicken, veg & noodle stir fry (I'm thinking something along the lines of chicken chow mein but with extra mushrooms, mangetout and carrots


lunch- ratatouille pasta salad with rocket to use up the ratatouille from last night (or pasta carbonara or bolognese, for those who prefer)

dinner Parma pork with potato salad (or mash)


lunch- Epic summer salad (for me and Sophie), sausages and rice for Pierre and Juliette (and Sophie will probably pinch a couple of sausages too !)

dinner- Mexican pulled chicken and beans with rice or tortilla chips (I can guess which one the kids will go for !)


lunchTurkish meatloaf and grilled veg salad with couscous

dinner- I'm thinking there will be leftovers to nibble on

***Click on my Menu Plans tag to see all my other weekly menu plan blogposts.***


Monday, 26 July 2021

July 2021 Degustabox review : Summer & Grazing

The summer holidays are here at last - woohoo ! While we're loving the chance to have lie-ins in the mornings and take advantage of lazy days, catching up on Netflix, online games and random mooching about, there's one thing missing at the moment - the sun ! It's been pouring hard for days and there's more to come apparently ! Ah well, at least it's still warm and the latest Degustabox had the perfect hot-weather theme : summer and grazing. With three constantly hungry kids in the house, it couldn't be better !

As I unpacked the box, I could tell that there were lots of things that the kids (not to mention me !) would love to try, including plenty of snacks, both sweet and savoury.

I used to love eating Fox's Glacier Mints and Fox's Glacier Fruits when I was a kid, so I was excited to discover Fox's Glacier Moments (RRP 3 x £1). These new sweets offer grown-ups a range of indulgent flavours inspired by herbal teas, desserts and fresh fruit smoothies to provide a special moment to unwind. I'd never heard of sweets reserved for adults, but I kinda like the idea ! After Darks are designed as an evening occasion sweet to be savoured after a special moment or dinner. They come in two classic dessert flavours, Decadent Banoffee and Cherry Bakewell Tart, alongside two delicious drink flavours, Smooth Irish Cream and Dark Fruits. Little Lifts are designed to give a gentle energy boost during the day and come in Strawberry and Hibiscus, Peach and Passionfruit, Apple, Pear and Spearmint and Lemon, Mint and Elderflower flavours. Limited Edition Summer Punch is a seasonal product inspired by summer cocktails so you can savour Strawberry, Orange, Elderflower Spritz (Cucumber, Elderflower, Tonic and Mint) and Summer Punch (inspired by fruit cup cocktails). I love all of them !

Bull's-Eye New York Steakhouse BBQ Sauce (RRP £2.50) is a lovely sauce on burgers, with sausages or mixed into pulled pork. It's sweet, rich and adds a real depth of flavour to any grilled meats or even a humble bacon sandwich or baked potato. Other recipes that it would work well in are Slow Cooker BBQ Beef and Salisbury Steak.

Firefly Peach & Green Tea (RRP £1.55) is a lovely summery drink, made from a blend of still water, fruit juice and botanical extracts. It's lovely drunk straight from the bottle but it can also be pimped up into a summery cocktail, with or without alcohol. 

Three Fold Hard Seltzer (RRP £2) is a delicious drink made from natural fruit flavours, sparkling water and 4% alcohol. We got Tropical, which is a blend of mango, pineapple and watermelon flavours, but it is also available in Citrus (orange, grapefruit and lime) and Red Berries (strawberry, raspberry and pomegranate). As well as tasting great, it is naturally gluten-free, vegan and just 93 calories. Available at Morrisons, Bargain Booze and online at Ocado and Amazon.

McVitie's Blackcurrant Jaffa Cakes (RRP £1.20) are a delicious new take on the original orange flavour. Alongside the traditional crackly dark chocolate and light sponge, you have a zingy, zesty, fruity blackcurrant flavour to get your teeth into. There are ten cakes in a pack and we polished them off in minutes !

Lindt Nocciolatte Milk Hazelnut/ Noccionoir Dark Hazelnut (RRP 2 x 85p) is a delicious chocolatey treat, whatever type of chocolate you prefer. Add whole hazelnuts and a smooth hazelnut praline filling and you end up with a lovely sweet treat. Yum!

Love Corn (RRP 70p for 1 pack, £16 for a pack of 24) is a crunchy corn-based snack that offers a tasty alternative to crisps. We got Cheese & Onion flavour which was lovely, but there are other flavours available too. They're plant based and gluten free, but best of all, they taste great and the kids loved them. 

On to another snack that was wolfed down ... The Real McCoy's Fire Pit (RRP 2 x 90p). These crisps are inspired by the rustic flavours of cooking meat over an open fire and come in three varieties, Flame Roasted Peri Peri and Flame Smoked Chorizo (both in the box) and Flame Scorched BBQ Ribs. We all loved the robust, chargrilled flavours that really reminded us of summertime barbecues.

Pot Pasta (RRP 2 x £1.19) are the perfect snack or lunch option, especially for constantly hungry teenagers who need something quick when their bellies start rumbling ! From the Pot Noodle brand, they couldn't be simpler - just add hot water and five minutes later, you'll have a lovely-tasting snack to curb your hunger pangs. The pot offers "the taste of Italy" and there are three flavours available - Creamy Carbonara and Tomatoey Mozzarella, both of which were in the Degustabox and were given a thumbs-up by the kids, and Bolognese, which they now want to try too !

Smarties Chocolate Sharing Bag (RRP £1) is a great option that is sure to please - generations of kids have loved nibbling on Smarties and the Madhouse kids still love them, even as teens ! You get the same smooth milk chocolate covered in colourful crisp sugar shells, but now they are wrapped in paper packaging, perfect for recycling.

St Pierre Brioche Hot Dog Rolls (RRP £1.40 for 4) are perfect for a light lunch when it's too hot to cook. Forget sweltering in front of the oven, just fry or grill some sausages (and some onions, if you want to make them extra special), pop them in the buns (they're pre-cut, making it all even easier !) then slather on some ketchup or mustard. Delicious ! The brioche is beautifully soft and adds a lovely sweetness to your hot dogs. The kids loved these and asked if we could buy them again. Available at selected Tesco and Morrisons stores.

Taylors of Harrogate Coffee Bags (RRP £1.50) are an ingenious new way of making coffee in just two minutes without all the fuss. You get freshly ground coffee in a bag that works like a teabag for when you want proper ground coffee, but don't want to bother with the cafetière. Sophie has been wanting to experiment with proper coffee so this is a great way to start.

This was a great box and we all loved everything, so I'm sure there are several brands that we'll be looking out for again the next time we go to the supermarket.

 A subscription to Degustabox costs £12.99 per month including delivery, with each box having a value of much more than that, but the great news is, I have a discount coupon code for you which means you'll get the first box for just £9.99 - enter code PKUFE at the checkout. 

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Disclosure : We received the box in order to write an honest review. As a Degustabox blogger, I receive all of the products that go into the monthly boxes, but subscribers may not get exactly the same selection.
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