Here’s a little round-up of some of the food samples i’ve been sent lately, so you know what they’re like when you spot them in the supermarket aisles…
Be Good to Yourself ready meals
Sainsbury’s got in touch to ask me to try out their improved range of healthy Be Good To Yourself ready meals on the back of some research that found Shepherds Pie is top of the UK’s list when it comes to comfort food in the chilly winter months.
We didn’t get hold of the Shepherds Pie but we tried:
spinach & ricotta cannelloni: 349 calories
A bit sauce-tastic, and the top looked a little watery, but it was actually pretty tasty and the spinach-filled pasta shells were firm. The tomato sauce underneath was good.
chicken & mushroom pie: 349 calories
Father-in-law was impressed with the size of the portion – a huge mash topping with a cheese crumb with a tasty filling with good meat content and excellent flavour.
cod & salmon fish pie: 363 calories
Mother-in-law really enjoyed this dish and gave it a big thumbs up. The chunks of fish were really substantial and great quality, and again the flavour good and portion size very satisfying.
I’m not hugely into ready meals, but when I was working I loved taking them into the office to heat up for my lunch to make a change from sandwiches.
They’re also great if you are watching your weight and want to have a super controlled day calorie-wise. They can easily make a quick weeknight meal bulked out with lots of veg or a big salad on the side. Just be careful when they come out of the microwave as they’re hotter than the sun.
I was really impressed with the quantity and flavour for so few calories. I was also pretty delighted to see regular ingredients listed on the packaging, and not lots of weird and wonderful processed nasties as you normally expect from ready meals.
All Be Good To Yourself ready meals are 400 calories or less.
Prices range from £2 to £3.
Kiddylicious smoothie melts
What the company says: crunchy, bubbly honeycomb pieces that transform to a sweet smoothie juice sensation on the tongue to create a delicious food experience for your child
Available in two flavours: strawberry & banana and passion fruit, banana & mango – and handily count as one of your little one’s five a day.
I got very excited about these little packets. I thought they’d make fabulous lunchbox fillers for Arlo, who I struggle to get fruit into. He’s more of a veg man.
I held my breath when he tried one, then sighed as he spat it out and proclaimed it disgusting. I think the texture threw him to be honest.
Sam liked them, but then he loves fruit. So if your little one is a fruit bat then these could make a nice change for a lunchbox, but I don’t think it’ll be converting the non-fruit eaters.
59p per bag, available in Sainsburys
Light at Heart Tate & Lyle sugar
Tate & Lyle’s new lighter sugar is an all-natural cane sugar and Stevia blend that has twice the sweetness of sugar but with only half the calories.
When adding to drinks, sprinkling on cereal, or baking your favourite desserts you therefore halve what you normally use.
Stevia is a naturally sweet herb that grows wild as a small shrub in parts of Paraguay and Brazil
I left the box by the kettle for the father-in-law to put in his tea – he didn’t notice the difference taste wise, so that’s a good sign.
I was a little more quizzical about how it would perform in baking – the product is billed as stable at cooking temperatures and so is said to work the same way as sugar when you cook with it.
I used it in my weekly batch of banana cake and you really wouldn’t know – it rose beautifully, the sponge was moist as ever, I guess the only thing missing was the treacly taste from the soft brown sugar I normally use.
I think i’ll definitely use it in future for my staple pot of sugar that sits on the side for spooning into hot drinks and sweetening sauces. I’m not convinced i’ll use it much in my baking though as I really like cakes to feel indulgent.
Available nationwide in all major supermarkets
Thanks to everyone involved for sending out the samples to review