So do you like salt, or do you like eating?

French Fries

I know it shouldn’t surprise me, but now and again it does. What is that you may ask? Well the blog post title is a bit of a giveaway, the answer is salt, or more specifically the amount of salt in both processed foods and in restaurant meals too.

I recently bought a chocolate cake from Sainsbury’s, what astounded me was that the salt content per 100g was higher than Ready Salted Pringles! I know people complain about the amount of sugar in savoury foods (I am looking at you Duchy) but this was a sweet thing. There I was thinking that supermarkets were trying to reduce the amount of salt they use in their products.

I am finding a fair few restaurants are not just adding salt to cooking, I kind of expect that level of seasoning, but then “garnish” the dish with even more salt. I recently had some sweet and sour squid, over the salt and pepper squid and was disappointed to find that the squid had been garnished with sea salt. Similarly the number of places that “garnish” their fries with salt, yes, I’m looking at you Café Rouge!

I am now pretty sensitive to the amount of salt I find in foods and I do find now that when used excessively detracts rather than enhances the flavour of the food I eat. So do you like salt, or do you like eating?

Sainsbury’s Bistro Tuscan Chicken

Getting back late last night, and not feeling 100%, decided to pop into the local supermarket and get something. Sainsbury had their £10 meal deal from their Taste the Difference range.

Their “deal” isn’t as “good” as similar deals you get from Marks and Spencers or Waitrose, you get to choose one main course, one desert and a bottle of wine.

Of course it has to be said that these aren’t really “deals” as the listed prices are over-inflated to make you just think you are getting a good deal. You look at the shelf price and you are expected to “say” wow, this dish costs £7, the desert is £3.50 and the wine is £6.99 that means if I buy all three I am saving £7.49!!!

Come on, really? Well the truth is that though we as consumers like to think of ourselves as rational and see through such promotions, the reality is very different. Consumers like these deals, they work for the supermarket and we buy them.

I recall seeing the similar deal in Marks and Spencers, what I then did was go round and l found similar products on the non-offer shelves for less money than the deal.

We’ve not saved any money on this “deal”, it’s actually cost you £10. A common misconception is that “deals” save you money. They only do this if you were intent on buying those products in the first place. For example if you went out to buy one loaf of bread at £1.20 and there was a multibuy, two for £2. If you buy two loaves of bread the “deal” hasn’t saved you 40p it has cost you 80p as you were only going into buy a single loaf, not two. I know some out there may say, “but you have another loaf” well yes, but will you eat it? It has to be said that with some offers, even like my example, you do save money if it offsets a future purchase, however if you buy something you hadn’t planned to, then that deal hasn’t saved you money.

Of course what happens with a lot of these deals is that people buy too much of something and in the end they throw it away… that means that deal didn’t save you money!

Sainsbury's Bistro Tuscan Chicken So why did I buy the deal then?

Well I didn’t  buy the deal to save £7.49, what I did was buy three things for £10 that I felt was value for money at £10. I went for a white win, a chocolate soufflé and the Tuscan Chicken.

The Bistro Tuscan Chicken instructions were a little complicated (for a ready meal), place the orzo pasta in the dish, bake in the oven, part way through add some water and continue cooking.

I was trying to be quick, so what I did was part cook the orzo pasta, as I was heating up the chicken, and then add this to the chicken before finishing off in the oven. This reduced the cooking time by about 15 minutes!

I really did enjoy this dish, the tomato sauce, combined with the fresh yellow pepper, cherry tomatoes and spinach was very refreshing. The chicken had flavour, well it was thigh meat and not breast which does make a difference. I also liked the orzo pasta which resembles rice, but has a different taste and texture. The olives and spices added depth to the dish and there was enough in the dish for two people. A fresh flavoursome dish that was quick and easy to prepare.

I think next time I will make it myself from ingredients, but if you don’t have the time then this ready meal wasn’t half bad.

Burger at the Sainsbury Cafe

Whilst getting a quick lunch at the cafe in Sainsbury, what I wanted was off the menu, so needing to make a quick decision I decided to go for a burger.

It came with chips, coleslaw and some salad. The chips were double cooked, which means they were cooked properly, went cold and were cooked again. Places do that because it is quicker and they can get food out faster to the customer. Personally I don’t like it, as the chips can be quite greasy and over cooked.

I did like the fact that they had used real cheese and not the plastic cheese you get on most burgers you can buy from fast food joints. It was quite a nice burger and had a reasonably good flavour. Didn’t think too much of the burger bun though.

Overall it wasn’t that bad, quite nice in fact, however not sure if I would get it again.

Sausages and Mash

I am always a little disappointed with sausages from most places you eat out at (well the cheap and cheerful places). Partly as they use cheap and poor quality sausages, but mainly as they cook them in the deep fat fryer! As a result I rarely eat sausages when eating out, but as one of the little people in the house loves sausages I do often see the type he orders. You experience something similar if you order breakfast at a supermarket cafe.

Grabbing lunch at Sainsburys the other day and the Sausages and Mash was on special, I thought I would save a little money and take a risk. As I was expecting to be disappointed, I was in the end very pleased with the food that I got.

What I was really pleased with was the fact that these were high quality sausages that had been cooked properly. I think they were more likely to have been cooked in the oven rather than grilled.

The mashed potato was nice and wasn’t lumpy or overly creamy. A little too salty for my tastes, but not over salted. The peas were typical peas, so nothing special.

Overall I was really pleased with the meal and for the cold wet day I had it on, it was a really nice dish of comfort food.

Italian Inspired Bistro Box

Italian Bistro BoxA new concept from Sainsburys has been a series of Bistro boxes. The ones I have seen are Italian, Spanish and Greek. I went for the Italian.

It contains a pasta and pesto salad with pine nuts, crunchy focaccia, milano salami, sun dried tomatoes with mozzarella and rocket. You also get a balsamic vinaigrette.

Overall it was really quite nice for lunch, a good combination of textures, flavours and colours. My only real complaint was that it was quite salty, but then Italian food can be quite salty anyhow! What was I expecting?

So was it value for money? Well at £4 I think it was a tad pricey. However even if I bought the items individually, it would probably be about the same price for similar quantities. Interested enough to try out the Greek and Spanish versions.