I've been meaning to put this blog post together for a long time, as when Tesco launched their brand new free from ready meals last month, they kindly sent me through a sample of each to try - watch the video here or scroll down for the full review!
From chicken katsu curry and seafood paella to Thai green curry and beef casserole, there seems to be a great choice - although I can only find two of them in my two Tesco stores.
The full range is gluten free, wheat free, dairy free and egg free, is found in the chilled aisle, and includes the following 10 meals:
• Katsu Chicken Curry with Jasmine Rice
• Chicken and King Prawn Paella
•King Prawn and Singapore Noodles
•Sweet and Sour Crispy Chicken & Rice
• Green Thai Chicken Curry & Rice
• Chicken Tikka Masala & Rice
• Chicken Hotpot with Sage and Onion Stuffing
• Beef Casserole and Dumplings
• Pulled Beef and Red Wine Ragu with Spaghetti
• Chicken, Bacon and Mushroom Pasta
I have now officially tried ALL of them (except the beef casserole, which I didn't get round to eating before it got pilfered from the fridge) and I am pretty impressed. Some of them are amazing - the Katsu curry and pulled beef ragu were my favourites. Others I wasn't so keen - but here is a rundown of my brief thoughts on each.
Chicken Katsu curry
This was my favourite of the lot. It's one of the more 'labour intensive' ready meals, in that you have to put the chicken in the oven and microwave the rest. I heard some people complain about this but, seriously, it would be a lot more effort to make it from scratch! The curry sauce was amazing and gluten free battered chicken always get me excited. I would say this was one of the best of the lot.
Crispy sweet and sour chicken
This was another one which was high up on the list. Again, you need to oven-cook the chicken, but it goes so crispy and paired with the tangy sweet sauce, it's tasty. The sauce wasn't quite to my taste but I thought this was a good, quick fix for a Friday night.\
Chicken Tikka Masala
I fed this one to Steve because he is King of the Chicken Tikka, and quite the curry connoisseur. He really enjoyed this - he gave it 8/10 which is pretty decent - but said there wasn't quite enough of it, particularly of the chicken.
King prawn Singapore noodles
I LOVE Singapore noodles so I was really pleased to see this gluten free option. At first I found them a little disappointing but then the flavour really built and they ended up being quite spicy. I'd probably buy them again at a stretch, but I'd rather make my own.
Chicken bacon and mushroom pasta
I'm sorry to say it, but it ended up in the bin - and I don't like wasting food! Perhaps it's because I'm not used to dairy-free 'creamy' foods, but it just didn't have any taste to it at all. I'd be interested to get the perspective of someone used to eating dairy free alternatives, but this really wasn't for me at all.
Pulled beef ragu
Now THIS was amazing, my favourite of the lot! I didn't expect one of the gluten free pasta dishes to be this good but the sauce was sooooo good. Rich and tomatoey, the pulled beef added a great texture and I would absolutely buy and eat this again.
Chicken and king prawn paella
This gluten free paella also really impressed me. Steve and I actually split this as a side to our meal but I found it so tasty. It had just the right amount of flavour and spice, though it was a bit stickier, more like a risotto. I thought this was a good gluten free ready meal.
Chicken hotpot with stuffing
I really, really liked the gluten free onion stuffing with this chicken hotpot - it was delicious. The rest of it was a bit nondescript, but I think it reflects the variety of the range, there really is something for everyone from the spice fiends to those who like something a bit more traditional. This just wasn't my usual choice.
Green Thai chicken curry
This gluten free Thai chicken curry was fragrant and tasty. It was the kind of thing I would go for it I was buying a ready meal and it hit the spot - good flavours and it smelt delicious while it was cooking in the microwave!
Overall I am really impressed Tesco has brought out this new Free From range of ready meals, and even more so that they're dairy and egg free as well as gluten free, meaning they cater to everyone.
While some of them aren't my cup of tea, I wasn't expecting to like them all, and it's good to know there was options when I just want a quick meals.
The Tesco free from ready meals are currently on sale for an introductory offer of £2.50, but will normally retail at £3.
* I was sent these ready meals to try from Tesco but this review is my honest held opinion.