A slap-up three course meal from Marks and Spencer for fiver aa head sounds like the ideal Easter treat. This week the chain has launched a £20 meal-deal made up of a roasting main, three sides and a dessert, so WalesOnline reporter Cathy Owens tried it out to see if it would feed a family of four.
We used to be big fans of the £10 deal, where you would get a main, two sides and a bottle of wine. It was dine in for two, but there was usually a roast chicken included so it was a deal worth picking up for the four of us.
But as the boys grew, and their appetites expanded at alarming rates, it was not really enough. But this new deal is advertised as being enough to feed a family of four, but would there really be enough for two adults and two teenagers? We put it to the test.
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With grocery bills on the rise, families are always looking out for ways to save, and this definitely seems to be good value for money. At the tills, the checkout staff said that meat alone would have cost £15, and the savings on the whole deal were between £10 and £12.
Meat choices include a roast chicken, slow-cooked lamb shoulder and beef rump, while amongst the sides are beef dripping Yorkshire puddings, braised red cabbage or stuffing.
I knew that everyone would agree on the beef rump, although the lamb looked tempting too, and the chicken was a good size. For the sides I bought the honey glazed carrots, the braised red cabbage and a portion of pigs in blankets because the beef did not look very big. For pudding, I hovered between the key lime cheesecake and the apple pie. The apple pie won the day as it is a firm favorite with everyone, and looked like the biggest pudding available.
I was slightly concerned when I unpacked the rump of beef with roast beef butter. It weighed 630g and was certainly smaller than the beef joint I would normally pick up for Sunday dinner.
The cooking instructions were reflective of the size of the joint, although I cooked it for slightly longer than suggested because I didn’t give the oven long enough to warm up before putting the meat in. The instructions were to cook at 220°C for 20 minutes, before adding water and then cooking for slightly longer at 160°C, The suggestion was for eight minutes if you wanted it rare, 12 minutes for medium and 20 minutes for well done. I actually cooked it for a further 30 minutes and it was still medium. The suggestion was that the beef butter was added eight minutes before the end of the cooking time.
When it was ready to carve, there was enough for three to four small slices each of the beef. The quality of the meat outweighed the quantity. It was melt in your mouth, a good cut of beef and the roast beef butter added to the taste.
While the beef joint was a little on the small side, the portions of sides were more than plentiful. In fact, we couldn’t finish the braised cabbage and will use it again for another meal.
I did count, and there were 25 chunky carrots in a honey and orange glaze. They cooked well and got a thumbs up for everyone’s taste, and it took 35 to 40 minutes to roast in the oven.
The pigs in blankets added to the meat content and supplemented the whole meal. There were 12 and they were described as being classic British outdoor bred sausages wrapped in smoked bacon. Three each was a good amount when served with the beef.
The braised red cabbage with Bramley apples was the last of the sides. There was 600g in the serving and it is from the chain’s Plant Kitchen range.
Really tangy and fresh, we couldn’t actually eat it all, so will use it in another meal. We had potatoes that needed using up, so added to the meal with a helping of cheesy mash.
The puff pastry apple pie looked like one of the bigger puddings on offer, although the sticky toffee pudding and the key lime pie both looked substantial. The packaging says that it is 485g and there was definitely enough for four decent sized servings, accompanied by custard we already had. It took 30 minutes to cook, but disappeared in under three minutes with a lot of praise for the taste, amount of apples and quality of the pastry.
The meal wasn’t quite as big at it looks in the adverts, but with the sides and the pudding, there was just about enough to feed a family of four, and with a maximum saving of £12.50 it was worth the treat.
Trying to fill up growing teenage boys is always a difficulty, but it definitely took longer for them to come back saying they were hungry and the quality of the food was so good that we would all definitely recommend it. It would be a meal that would be slightly too much for three people, but would definitely not stretch to feed more than four.