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NOW CLOSED M&S Simply Fuller Longer range - tester review thread

(289 Posts)
TheOtherHelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 25-May-12 14:26:16

This thread is for the Mumsnet M&S panellists who've been trying out the Simply Fuller Longer range with their families. M&S would like to know what you thought of the dish(es) you tried. We've included a few feedback questions below to get you started, but please feel free to add any other comments you have too.

Everyone who adds their feedback to this thread will be entered into a prize draw to win a £100 M&S giftcard.

Please note that your comments may appear (anonymously) on the M&S pages on Mumsnet and possibly elsewhere.

Please remember to state which dish(es) you tried in your response.

Q1. How did you find the SFL range in the store you visited in terms of availability? Was there enough to choose from or not? Which dishes grabbed your attention immediately?

Q2. With the dish(es) you tried, did you heat them up in the microwave or oven? Did preparation method factor into your choice of purchase? If you regularly buy 'convenience' meals, how did the SFL dishes compare to others in terms of how quick and easy they are to prepare? If you don't usually buy 'convenience' meals, were you impressed with the speed/ease of preparing the dishes or not?

Q3. How did you find the portion sizes of the dishes you tried? Did you feel full afterwards? And how about your DH/DP - was he/she sufficiently full afterwards? What were his/her thoughts on the portion size?

Q4. What did you and your DH/DP think of the dishes you tried in terms of taste and flavour - did you enjoy them or not? Is there anything that you think could be improved on this front? Would you consider the dishes you tried to be 'healthy alternatives' to other ready meal options or not?

Q5. Do you think the dishes you tried represented good value for money or not? Why?

Q6. If it came up in conversation, do you think you'd recommend any of the dishes you tried to your friends/family? If so, why? If not, why not?

Thanks and good luck with the prize draw
MNHQ

Jodunne Mon 28-May-12 13:02:48

Q1 - There were about 10-12 dishes and I bought 3. The Chinese type dishes grabbed my attention as I suppose they were at my eye level - I bought Chicken in a smoky tomato sauce, Scottish Lochmuir salmon with soy and ginger and Chicken and oriental vegetables.

Q2 - Used the oven to heat all 3 dishes which were all easy to prepare with clear instructions, cooking times were 20 minutes for 2 and 25 minutes for the last one. Don't usually buy a lot of convenience food.

Q3 - Pleased with portion sizes and husband and kids felt full afterwards

Q4 - flavour and taste was fine. Liked the Chinese dish the best. Would have liked a bigger portion of salmon in the salmon dish and there was plenty of chicken in the chicken dish. Not sure if they were as healthy as M&S liked to make as salt content was 38% in one dish. I would try them again though.

Q5 - found them average value for money as you didn't need to add to the dishes so £3.99 was the price for an entire main course meal.

Q6 - not sure if I would recommend as I was a little concerned with the high salt content in all 3 of the dishes.

I wasn't part of the MN trail, but I eat the M&S Fuller Longer meals regularly. I think they are the best read meals ever made!! Really I do.

I often eat them for lunch at work. I'm watching my weight (lost 8 kilos in as many weeks) and I love the fact that they provide me with a hot tasty alternative to salads etc, for around 400 calories. They are substantial and get me through to dinner (I might have a fruit snack). They certainly don't feel in any way like 'diet food'.

My favs are the Katsu Curry, the Ragu, the Meatballs, the Mexican chilli & wedges and the Wholefoods one. I've tried the FL flatbread sandwich too which was also yummy.

Keep it up M&S - I'm off to buy one now.

£3 would be a perfect price for me. When they ran a special offer on them a few months ago (2 for £6), lots of people in our office were buying them.

Right, here goes...

Q1. How did you find the SFL range in the store you visited in terms of availability? Was there enough to choose from or not? Which dishes grabbed your attention immediately?

There was lots of choice in the (very large out of town) M&S store I visited. The Cod dish grabbed my attention immediately due to the fact it was on the eye-level shelf. But it did not appeal to me. However, dh and I soon found it difficult to make a selection so we chose the Chunky Chilli and rice, the Pasta and Meatballs and the Keralan Chicken Curry with a samosa crust. (We also ended up buying clothes for dd so we are a promoter's dream)

Q2. With the dish(es) you tried, did you heat them up in the microwave or oven? Did preparation method factor into your choice of purchase? If you regularly buy 'convenience' meals, how did the SFL dishes compare to others in terms of how quick and easy they are to prepare? If you don't usually buy 'convenience' meals, were you impressed with the speed/ease of preparing the dishes or not?

We decided to eat the Chunky Chilli and the Keralan Curry last night. We ovenbaked them as we do not have a microwave (by choice).
Both meals baked well and in the recommended amount of time but both plastic dishes suffered from some melting and became mis-shapen.
This worried me slightly and I would probably decant them into oven-dishes next time.

Q3. How did you find the portion sizes of the dishes you tried? Did you feel full afterwards? And how about your DH/DP - was he/she sufficiently full afterwards? What were his/her thoughts on the portion size?

I am on a diet and watching portion size and found it fine. I did get the slight 'munchies' 4 hours later but was not hungry. It was probably more a habitual hunger...
Dh wanted some pitta bread with his meal to bulk it out as the portion size looked small to him and he was hungry again 3 hours later, rooting around the kitchen for a snack.

Q4. What did you and your DH/DP think of the dishes you tried in terms of taste and flavour - did you enjoy them or not? Is there anything that you think could be improved on this front? Would you consider the dishes you tried to be 'healthy alternatives' to other ready meal options or not?

The taste of both dishes was wonderful. It did not feel / taste like a 'diet' meal at all. In fact dh and both said that the dishes were 'repeatable' which is what we say when we like something and would consider having it again.
We don't normally eat ready meals although I have been eating Young's fish pies as the calorie content of those fits within my diet. I much prefer the taste / selection / portion size of the Simply Fuller range.

Q5. Do you think the dishes you tried represented good value for money or not? Why?

I think with the dishes in the £4 price range they are slightly on the expensive side. I would not buy them often but whilst I am on my diet I may indulgew every now and then.

Q6. If it came up in conversation, do you think you'd recommend any of the dishes you tried to your friends/family? If so, why? If not, why not?

If any of my friends were interested in a ready meal whilst watching their calorie intake I would definately recommend the dishes we have tried. We thoroughly enjoyed them and in my case did certainly keep me fuller for longer.

I am having the final dish (pasta and meatballs) tonight. Will report on that one tomorrow.

Thank you for letting me take part in the trial.

BonfireBaby Mon 28-May-12 13:40:30

I tried the Harissa chicken & couscous salad for lunch today. There was a reasonable choice in the salad section although they were mixed up with Count on Us salads and the superfoods ones too.
No prep was required which I suppose did impact my decision as I wanted something that I could eat as soon as I got back to work and also something cold and healthy in this weather.
The portion size was just right. It didn't look that big on the pack but I felt full afterwards. It could have done with more of the yoghurt dressing as it was just a tiny amount in the corner of the tub.
The taste was very nice though I would have preferred the chicken to have tasted more like the M&S chargrilled chicken in some of the other salads as that is lovely. The dressing was really nice, just required more of it! I liked the couscous and mixed pulses salad, nice taste and texture. Felt healthy eating it!
I am still craving something sweet after eating this salad, though, so it hasn't made me completely full.
I'd say ok value for money. £3 felt a bit expensive as there wasn't a massive amount of chicken in there but on the other hand, if I do feel full all afternoon then it'll save me money spent on snacks later.
Yes, I would recommend but I do think £2.50 would be a more reasonable price.

JParkson Mon 28-May-12 13:51:51

We used our voucher on Friday night, and this is what DH and I thought of the meals:

Q1. How did you find the SFL range in the store you visited in terms of availability? Was there enough to choose from or not? Which dishes grabbed your attention immediately?

I went to our local M&S but I confess for such a large store, I had difficulty finding the range to begin with - it was buried at the back of the chilled section, on the end of a gondola. Once I found them, it was easy to ponder, as they had all the same range together. There was a good selection to choose from, (almost too large!) and I dithered a lot before picking Beef Meatballs with Spaghetti for DH and Chicken and Three Mushroom Tagliatelle for me. I fancied some of the Asian meals particularly but a lot of them had prawns in, which I can't stand, so I opted for the chicken.

Q2. With the dish(es) you tried, did you heat them up in the microwave or oven? Did preparation method factor into your choice of purchase? If you regularly buy 'convenience' meals, how did the SFL dishes compare to others in terms of how quick and easy they are to prepare? If you don't usually buy 'convenience' meals, were you impressed with the speed/ease of preparing the dishes or not?

I heated up both the meals in the microwave, one at a time. I think mine could have done with 30 secs to a minute longer, but otherwise they were well heated. I don't normally eat convenience food, but when I do, I prefer to oven bake them. However the packaging recommended microwaving, so I stuck with that. (Plus I was hungry!) I don't know if 'impressed' is the right term to use; they didn't seem to take longer than other convenience meals to prepare, if anything they seemed to need less time, which isn't a bad thing.

Q3. How did you find the portion sizes of the dishes you tried? Did you feel full afterwards? And how about your DH/DP - was he/she sufficiently full afterwards? What were his/her thoughts on the portion size?

I was worried about the portion size as I have a very good appetite... I eat with my eyes as much with my stomach! DH was very happy with the portion size. As for "feeling fuller for longer", that definitely worked! I usually graze in the evenings, but after the meal, DH and I enjoyed an M&S Walnut Whip each, and that was both of us settled for the evening!

Q4. What did you and your DH/DP think of the dishes you tried in terms of taste and flavour - did you enjoy them or not? Is there anything that you think could be improved on this front? Would you consider the dishes you tried to be 'healthy alternatives' to other ready meal options or not?

Both DH and I really enjoyed our meals, and DH has suggested that we consider having them again, maybe on a monthly basis as a treat. I am happy with this, as I don't eat a lot of pre-prepared food due to the diet I follow. But these meals have a good rating on the plan I use! (A well known diet that uses syns rather than points...) On this basis, yes, I consider this range of meals to be healthier alternatives to other convenience options.

Flavour-wise, both DH and I were happy with the meals. The only niggle I found was with the chicken: I am usually quite fussy with my chicken, and I did get a gristley/chewy bit in my meal, but I've come to expect that with convenience meals, so I wasn't too surprised.

Q5. Do you think the dishes you tried represented good value for money or not? Why?

Yes, I was very impressed with the cost of the meals. I was expecting them to be more, but I was pleasantly surprised to have change left over from the voucher (I bought a few meals for the children, which normally I wouldn't be able to afford to do)

Q6. If it came up in conversation, do you think you'd recommend any of the dishes you tried to your friends/family? If so, why? If not, why not?

Yes I would recommend them, as much for the way they fit with my diet as for the fact they are nice! When I attend my diet group, we always discuss handy hints and tips to get the most out of our plans for the week, and these meals would be really good, as much for the 'fuller for longer' thing as well as the low impact on the syn values.

TFIT Mon 28-May-12 13:59:01

My tuppence worth
Q1. I could only see 6 dishes but then I found a salady one with the cold stuff.
There wasn't anything massively appealing to me though at least there were a bit different from the lasagne/moussaka type choices. I didn't feel the packaging distinguished them from the other convenience stuff that clearly.

Q2.I chose thai chicken curry and chicken tikka masala and me and DH shared them. I did them by micro as suggested. Was quick and easy but no insrtuctions for doing multiple packs at once other than increase time.

Q3. We were both full after what didn't look like a massive portion so yes the protein & fibre obviously played a part.

Q4. Neither of us was very impressed on taste. I thought both had a slight bitter aftertaste. i think that on the odd ocassion we have food like this we would probaly choose creamier options. I don't think I would buy them again despite the filling nature as the curries were neither spicy or tasty enough, sorry!

Q5. £3.99 each about average I suppose but not very good value when you consider how much of the meal is made up of rice/lentils/peas all v low cost foods. I get the dine in for £10 sometimes and I think that represents far better value as quite often you can get 4 portions out of it!

Q6. I wouldn't go out of my way to recommend as the taste was disappointing but I might discuss them in terms of the balance of food in the meal if someone was watching their weight.

Thanks for the opportunity to take part.

Cammelia Mon 28-May-12 14:01:16

Q1. How did you find the SFL range in the store you visited in terms of availability? Was there enough to choose from or not? Which dishes grabbed your attention immediately?

There was a good availability in my local M&S with enough to choose from. The dishes that grabbed my attention immediately were the ones that were reduced in price! Because of the price reduction I was able to buy 3 with my voucher.

Q2. With the dish(es) you tried, did you heat them up in the microwave or oven? Did preparation method factor into your choice of purchase? If you regularly buy 'convenience' meals, how did the SFL dishes compare to others in terms of how quick and easy they are to prepare? If you don't usually buy 'convenience' meals, were you impressed with the speed/ease of preparing the dishes or not?

I have so far eaten the Cod mornay, heated up in the microwave. Preparation method did not influence my choice. In terms of easiness to prepare, very similar to other convenience foods.

Q3. How did you find the portion sizes of the dishes you tried? Did you feel full afterwards? And how about your DH/DP - was he/she sufficiently full afterwards? What were his/her thoughts on the portion size?

Portion size: good (ie enough). I did feel full afterwards. My Dh did not have any - this was a one-person portion.

Q4. What did you and your DH/DP think of the dishes you tried in terms of taste and flavour - did you enjoy them or not? Is there anything that you think could be improved on this front? Would you consider the dishes you tried to be 'healthy alternatives' to other ready meal options or not?

The taste of the Cod mornay was a little "school dinners" but possibly because of the mashed potato? The fish was good quality and tasted nice. In terms of health, this was a fairly balanced meal with peas and beans (maybe a little too much mashed potato). Compares averagely with other ready meal options.

Q5. Do you think the dishes you tried represented good value for money or not? Why?

I don't think the meal represented good value for money at full price (£4.99). The reduced price was probably nearer the mark (£3)

Q6. If it came up in conversation, do you think you'd recommend any of the dishes you tried to your friends/family? If so, why? If not, why not?

I wouldn't recommend Cod mornay to friends or family as the dish could be made easily at home.

Ingles2 Mon 28-May-12 14:33:24

Just wanted to say I only got my voucher on Friday, and I haven't had a chance to get to M&S yet, but will do asap..

littlemonkeymum Mon 28-May-12 14:51:25

Q1. How did you find the SFL range in the store you visited in terms of availability? Was there enough to choose from or not? Which dishes grabbed your attention immediately?
Was surprised at the range of meals on display this time, there were loads I fancied trying though not so keen on trying the hotpot/pie meals due to personal taste. I ended up getting the katsu curry and Thai red curry
Q2. With the dish(es) you tried, did you heat them up in the microwave or oven? Did preparation method factor into your choice of purchase? If you regularly buy 'convenience' meals, how did the SFL dishes compare to others in terms of how quick and easy they are to prepare? If you don't usually buy 'convenience' meals, were you impressed with the speed/ease of preparing the dishes or not?
Used microwave for both for convenience as sometimes work particularly late and need to eat soon after I get in. Very easy and quick to prepare, nothing complicated.
Q3. How did you find the portion sizes of the dishes you tried? Did you feel full afterwards? And how about your DH/DP - was he/she sufficiently full afterwards? What were his/her thoughts on the portion size?
Portion sizes for lunchtime meal would be ideal; as main evening meals after a long day I still felt a bit hungry later on really.
Q4. What did you and your DH/DP think of the dishes you tried in terms of taste and flavour - did you enjoy them or not? Is there anything that you think could be improved on this front? Would you consider the dishes you tried to be 'healthy alternatives' to other ready meal options or not?
Thai red curry was great, the vegetables microwaved surprisingly well and it was really tasty. The chicken katsu curry was nice but less memorable, though loved the inclusion of edamame beans
Q5. Do you think the dishes you tried represented good value for money or not? Why?
These meals seem good value when they are on offer (2 for £6 I think?) but less so at £4 for one evening meal which alone may not entirely fill me up. As a lunchtime meal they are ideal when on offer
Q6. If it came up in conversation, do you think you'd recommend any of the dishes you tried to your friends/family? If so, why? If not, why not?
I would recommend if on offer as they are good quality, tasty convenience meals and I haven't yet been disappointed by any of the range. They are good if keeping an eye on calorie consumption

nowherenearasposhasisound Mon 28-May-12 14:51:37

I went to the store in the centre of Preston, Lancashire (there is another M&S outside of the town centre but it has a smaller food selection). I chose three dishes. The Keralan chicken curry with spiced samosa crust, the seafood linguine and the chicken and three mushroom tagliatelle.

Q1. How did you find the SFL range in the store you visited in terms of availability? Was there enough to choose from or not? Which dishes grabbed your attention immediately?

I found the dishes quite quickly, they were grouped together on the second aisle I walked down. They were between two other ranges, one of which was the Count on Us range and although I don’t think the Simply Fuller Longer range is a ‘diet’ range it made sense to be in the same sort of area as calorie controlled meals. There were about 15 meals to choose from and I was immediately attracted to the linguine as I love seafood. There were quite a few dishes I was overly excited about but that’s really a personal preference thing as I don’t tend to eat much red meat. I was also trying to think about what my partner would like to try and that was part of the reason for picking up the curry dish. I think there were enough to choose from for a first outing but if I was a regular buyer and wanted something different I think I’d get bored pretty quickly with the range on offer.

Q2. With the dish(es) you tried, did you heat them up in the microwave or oven? Did preparation method factor into your choice of purchase? If you regularly buy 'convenience' meals, how did the SFL dishes compare to others in terms of how quick and easy they are to prepare? If you don't usually buy 'convenience' meals, were you impressed with the speed/ease of preparing the dishes or not?

The Keralan chicken curry with spiced samosa crust was cooked in the oven (there was no other choice on the packaging). That was fine as I often cook something in the oven as I prepare veg/cook something else in the microwave. The seafood linguine and the chicken and three mushroom tagliatelle were both cooked in the microwave (both could be cooked in the oven). The instructions were simple, easy to follow and all the meals were very simple to cook. I’d say there were as easy as any other convenience meal I’ve had. I wasn’t particularly concerned when I was choosing the dishes about the preparation method or time to cook – for me eating convenience meals isn’t about speed but about cutting out prep time when I’m tired or can’t be bothered.

Q3. How did you find the portion sizes of the dishes you tried? Did you feel full afterwards? And how about your DH/DP - was he/she sufficiently full afterwards? What were his/her thoughts on the portion size?

I was surprised about the amount of food contained in the dishes – especially the pasta ones – there was a lot of food. The curry was a smaller portion and DH said he’d want rice with it (as it was he had some of the pasta). We both tend to snack after an evening meal and we were both genuinely surprised that after eating these meals we didn’t want to. I ate the mushroom pasta one on my own for lunch and struggled to finish the portion (not normally a problem for me!).

Q4. What did you and your DH/DP think of the dishes you tried in terms of taste and flavour - did you enjoy them or not? Is there anything that you think could be improved on this front? Would you consider the dishes you tried to be 'healthy alternatives' to other ready meal options or not?
The Keralan chicken curry with spiced samosa crust – lovely subtle spicy taste, samosa crust was soggy and very odd with the curry, kind of like soggy pasta on a pie! The chicken was plentiful but a bit on the dry side. The potato and cauliflower were welcome additions but certain chunks were undercooked and others mushy. It was fairly low calorie (320) but it didn’t taste like some horrible low fat/dieting meal.

The seafood linguine – very tasty with lovely tomato taste and evidence of plenty of fresh tomatoes. The seafood part was (as with all ready meals) sadly lacking – the odd prawn, a laughable teeny scallop or two and a fair amount of salmon. What I could taste was ok, bit chewy but the nice silky pasta made up for it.

The chicken and three mushroom tagliatelle – when I got this home and more closely read the label I was a bit worried as it said it had marsala in and that can often overwhelm the other flavours in a dish. I needn’t have worried, the flavours of mushroom, spinach and the sauce were well balanced, the chicken was in large chunks and fairly moist but didn’t taste of much. This was probably my favourite dish because it was simple and filling, very easy eating.

Q5. Do you think the dishes you tried represented good value for money or not? Why?

I got one of the dishes on special offer (£3) and was very pleased with that. In general I didn’t object paying £3.99 for the other dishes but I thought the seafood dish was a bit mean for that price. I thought the pricing was comparable to other M&S and nice supermarket ready meals.

Q6. If it came up in conversation, do you think you'd recommend any of the dishes you tried to your friends/family? If so, why? If not, why not?

I might recommend the chicken pasta but nothing blew me away so I’m not likely to go shouting from the rooftops about the range.

reluctantironer Mon 28-May-12 15:24:46

Q1. How did you find the SFL range in the store you visited in terms of availability? Was there enough to choose from or not? Which dishes grabbed your attention immediately?

I found them easily in my local store and yes, there was a choice of ten or so meals. I liked the look of the salmon with soy/ginger and black rice for me (as it looked healthy) and thai green curry for DH (as he's partial to a curry).

Q2. With the dish(es) you tried, did you heat them up in the microwave or oven? Did preparation method factor into your choice of purchase? If you regularly buy 'convenience' meals, how did the SFL dishes compare to others in terms of how quick and easy they are to prepare? If you don't usually buy 'convenience' meals, were you impressed with the speed/ease of preparing the dishes or not?

I heated both meals up in the microwave
I don't usually buy 'convenience' meals but they were quick and easy to prepare.

Q3. How did you find the portion sizes of the dishes you tried? Did you feel full afterwards? And how about your DH/DP - was he/she sufficiently full afterwards? What were his/her thoughts on the portion size?

The salmon dish was about the right size for me and I did feel full afterwards.
My DH thought his thai curry looked small but did feel full afterwards.

Q4. What did you and your DH/DP think of the dishes you tried in terms of taste and flavour - did you enjoy them or not? Is there anything that you think could be improved on this front? Would you consider the dishes you tried to be 'healthy alternatives' to other ready meal options or not?

I enjoyed the salmon dish - the flavours were good - DH had some too and liked it.
My DH didn't enjoy his green thai curry as much - the chicken was too soft, the rice was 'waterlogged' and it was all a bit bland - I tried a bit too and did agree with him

Q5. Do you think the dishes you tried represented good value for money or not? Why?

I think they are on the expensive side - for the price, I would have expected them to 'wow' me -

Q6.If it came up in conversation, do you think you'd recommend any of the dishes you tried to your friends/family? If so, why? If not, why not?

I don't think I would recommend them - although they are nutrionally well-balanced and the salmon dish was ok - they seemed expensive for what they were - despite their convenience, I'd prefer to cook similar from scratch. However, I will continue to buy your excellent 'Dine in for £10' deals - excellent value!

Squigglywiggly Mon 28-May-12 15:26:10

Q1. How did you find the SFL range in the store you visited in terms of availability? Was there enough to choose from or not? Which dishes grabbed your attention immediately? 


There was lots of choice of the SFL range at our West Bridgford store. My husband and I were initially drawn to the curries, Mexican and noodle type dishes as were a little different to what we regularly have at home. We were less keen on the more traditional English meals e.g. chicken and vegetable hot pot, as perhaps unfairly we perceive them as being soggy when heated.

Q2. With the dish(es) you tried, did you heat them up in the microwave or oven? Did preparation method factor into your choice of purchase? If you regularly buy 'convenience' meals, how did the SFL dishes compare to others in terms of how quick and easy they are to prepare? If you don't usually buy 'convenience' meals, were you impressed with the speed/ease of preparing the dishes or not?

Normally when we rarely choose to buy a ready meal we would go for a microwave meal as lack of time is probably the main reason behind it being bought. Therefore the meals that we chose, the red Thai chicken curry and chicken katsu curry, were microwavable. Saying that when we moved into our present property we did not have a microwave for a while – so the option of both is a good plan.

The meals were simple and easy to prepare and took hardly any time – which I believe is important for convenience food. There was however, as with all ready meals, quite a lot of plastic packaging, which is one reason we don’t have ready meals regularly.



Q3. How did you find the portion sizes of the dishes you tried? Did you feel full afterwards? And how about your DH/DP - was he/she sufficiently full afterwards? What were his/her thoughts on the portion size? 


For myself, the portion size was ideal and I felt full afterwards. My husband unfortunately had to have a toast snack as he felt it was too small and didn’t quite feel full enough.


Q4. What did you and your DH/DP think of the dishes you tried in terms of taste and flavour - did you enjoy them or not? Is there anything that you think could be improved on this front? Would you consider the dishes you tried to be 'healthy alternatives' to other ready meal options or not? 



With regards to taste, the meals were very tasty and we both felt that the ingredients were fresh and well balanced with respect to vegetable content. They definitely appeared to be a healthier alternative to other ready meal options.

The red thai chicken curry was good, but probably could do with more sauce. We were most impressed with the Katsu curry, which was really tasty and would be the one I would get in future.

Q5. Do you think the dishes you tried represented good value for money or not? Why? 



I felt the meals were good value as there were lots of quality ingredients present.

Q6. If it came up in conversation, do you think you'd recommend any of the dishes you tried to your friends/family? If so, why? If not, why not? 


If family or friends were buying convenience food I would consider recommending the SFL range, especially the Katsu curry! This is because it is tasty and enjoyable.

notapizzaeater Mon 28-May-12 16:50:19

Q1. How did you find the SFL range in the store you visited in terms of availability? Was there enough to choose from or not? Which dishes grabbed your attention immediately?

Hard to spot what wa sin the range as on an end with the count on us range, so really had to look. Also count on us was on offer so more eye catching. Beef Bourguignon grabbed my eye.

Q2. With the dish(es) you tried, did you heat them up in the microwave or oven? Did preparation method factor into your choice of purchase? If you regularly buy 'convenience' meals, how did the SFL dishes compare to others in terms of how quick and easy they are to prepare? If you don't usually buy 'convenience' meals, were you impressed with the speed/ease of preparing the dishes or not?

Beef bourguignon and the pork loin, cabbage and mash. Oven cooked both as if I'd microwaved them one would have been cold by the time I'd served. I took them out of the dishes to plate up and they looked much smaller. I added some potatoes and I was quite glad I did as we would have still been hungry. Occasionally but convenience foods and probably would again.


Q3. How did you find the portion sizes of the dishes you tried? Did you feel full afterwards? And how about your DH/DP - was he/she sufficiently full afterwards? What were his/her thoughts on the portion size?

Portion sizes not enough, needed padding out. DH had munchies later, I was OK.

Q4. What did you and your DH/DP think of the dishes you tried in terms of taste and flavour - did you enjoy them or not? Is there anything that you think could be improved on this front? Would you consider the dishes you tried to be 'healthy alternatives' to other ready meal options or not?

The pork loin and cabbage tasted lovely, the beef was salty (this from DH who adds salt to everything - grr) I probably wouldnt tip them out of the dishes onto a plate as they didnt look like enough, perhaps if we had had them in the bowls we might have been "fuller"

Q5. Do you think the dishes you tried represented good value for money or not? Why?

No £4 each is actually quite expensive, for the 2 of us I could feed us very
well for £8 ....

Q6. If it came up in conversation, do you think you'd recommend any of the dishes you tried to your friends/family? If so, why? If not, why not?

Yes if they ate conv food

yummumummy Mon 28-May-12 16:50:51

I went SFL shopping over the weekend and my commenst are as below:

Q1. How did you find the SFL range in the store you visited in terms of availability? Was there enough to choose from or not? Which dishes grabbed your attention immediately?

I shopped in the Kew retail park M&S on Saturday morning and there was plenty of choice, and all the SFL range was together.....opposite the count on us range. There was enough to choose from (about 20 dishes I think) and I wanted to get something we hadn't had before as we have eaten from the range before. I got the thai curries (both red and green) as we both love thai food.

Q2. With the dish(es) you tried, did you heat them up in the microwave or oven? Did preparation method factor into your choice of purchase? If you regularly buy 'convenience' meals, how did the SFL dishes compare to others in terms of how quick and easy they are to prepare? If you don't usually buy 'convenience' meals, were you impressed with the speed/ease of preparing the dishes or not?

Put both the curries in the microwave - very simple and easy when you've just put the kids to bed and want to get on with the dinner quite quickly.

Q3. How did you find the portion sizes of the dishes you tried? Did you feel full afterwards? And how about your DH/DP - was he/she sufficiently full afterwards? What were his/her thoughts on the portion size?

The portions were just right for me but it was a bit smalll for DH. He was looking for things to snack on after an hour of the meal. He thought he could eat atleast another half a portion of the same.

Q4. What did you and your DH/DP think of the dishes you tried in terms of taste and flavour - did you enjoy them or not? Is there anything that you think could be improved on this front? Would you consider the dishes you tried to be 'healthy alternatives' to other ready meal options or not?

Both me and DH really liked the curries. We love Thai food and thai curries are often loaded with calories. This, however, didnt feel unhealthy at all that was the best thing about the meal. The taste and flavour were very authentic; the veggies were very fresh and beautifully cooked and I certainly think the curries were healthy alternative to a thai take away / ready meals elsewhere.

Q5. Do you think the dishes you tried represented good value for money or not? Why?
I have always considered M&S food at the higher end of the market, so if compared to asda / tescos and evern sainsburys ready meals, then no, its pricey....however you get what you pay for....much more tasty and far superior. Always looks and tastes fresh.

Q6. If it came up in conversation, do you think you'd recommend any of the dishes you tried to your friends/family? If so, why? If not, why not

I would definitly recommend the thai curries - its tasty and very easy to put together and enjoy at the end of a long day.

PutOnAHappyFace Mon 28-May-12 17:16:42

We had Ham hock and paella

Q1. How did you find the SFL range in the store you visited in terms of availability? Was there enough to choose from or not? Which dishes grabbed your attention immediately?

It was quite hard to find and there was 7-8 different meals but do think most of the meals where appealing.

Q2. With the dish(es) you tried, did you heat them up in the microwave or oven? Did preparation method factor into your choice of purchase? If you regularly buy 'convenience' meals, how did the SFL dishes compare to others in terms of how quick and easy they are to prepare? If you don't usually buy 'convenience' meals, were you impressed with the speed/ease of preparing the dishes or not?

We done the ham in microwave and paella in the oven.

Q3. How did you find the portion sizes of the dishes you tried? Did you feel full afterwards? And how about your DH/DP - was he/she sufficiently full afterwards? What were his/her thoughts on the portion size?

I think the portion sizes are exactly right, i felt full afterwards. DP said he felt full afterwards but would only have one for lunch.

Q4. What did you and your DH/DP think of the dishes you tried in terms of taste and flavour - did you enjoy them or not? Is there anything that you think could be improved on this front? Would you consider the dishes you tried to be 'healthy alternatives' to other ready meal options or not?

We thought both the meals were really nice and tasty and seemed fresher then any other ready meal. we was very impressed.

Q5. Do you think the dishes you tried represented good value for money or not? Why?

£4 did seem a bit much as they DP would only have it for lunch as he didnt think it filled him for long enough.

Q6. If it came up in conversation, do you think you'd recommend any of the dishes you tried to your friends/family? If so, why? If not, why not?

I would recommend because they were much nicer then any other ready meal.

Dh has just read the message I typed and reminded me that the keralan curry did not come in a plastic dish but in a tinfoil one. (he did the cooking last night, I saw 'my' dish (the chilli) and assumed both had been in plastic)

Dh wants to ask why not all dishes can be done in tinfoil? Is it because they would not be microwavable?
Shame because the plastic dishes don't seem to be ovenbakable...

FullBeam Mon 28-May-12 18:39:39

Q1. How did you find the SFL range in the store you visited in terms of availability? Was there enough to choose from or not? Which dishes grabbed your attention immediately?

Even though it wasn't a massive M&S, there was still a good range of meals including pasta, curries, fish dishes and stews.

Q2. With the dish(es) you tried, did you heat them up in the microwave or oven? Did preparation method factor into your choice of purchase? If you regularly buy 'convenience' meals, how did the SFL dishes compare to others in terms of how quick and easy they are to prepare? If you don't usually buy 'convenience' meals, were you impressed with the speed/ease of preparing the dishes or not?

The Keralan chicken was cooked in the oven (in tinfoil), it was easy and quick to heart.

The Chicken Tikka was microwaved in a very speedy 4 minutes. Very easy.

Q3. How did you find the portion sizes of the dishes you tried? Did you feel full afterwards? And how about your DH/DP - was he/she sufficiently full afterwards? What were his/her thoughts on the portion size?

I was impressed by the portion size, they were quite large and I did feel full afterwards. DH thought the portion size was good too.

Q4. What did you and your DH/DP think of the dishes you tried in terms of taste and flavour - did you enjoy them or not? Is there anything that you think could be improved on this front? Would you consider the dishes you tried to be 'healthy alternatives' to other ready meal options or not?

I thought both dishes were tasty and I would try them again.

The Keralan chicken was just spicy enough with a fresh taste. I liked the samoza topping which was unusual.

The chicken tikka has a good amount of sauce and I enjoyed the lentils which gave it more 'bite'.

I did think that they felt like healthy meals.

Q5. Do you think the dishes you tried represented good value for money or not? Why?

Compared to other ready meals, they were pretty good value, but not cheap.

Q6. If it came up in conversation, do you think you'd recommend any of the dishes you tried to your friends/family? If so, why? If not, why not?

Possibly yes, I enjoyed both meals and they were filling and tasty.

aramo Mon 28-May-12 18:41:53

Q1. At the back corner of the store, I knew where to look as I have bought from them before. Good range but not much 'exciting' food but home comfort food.
Q2. Where possible I always use the oven, but if i particularly want to try something micro well i will give it a shot. Food was very simple to prepare. Pop in oven and eat!
Q3. With the SFL range, when you first look at it they do seem small, but once prepared on the plate, they are an ideal size and if eaten correctly and not just gulped down they really do satisfy you for longer.
Q4 The meals had a general theme of homely food, fine in the winter months but I would have prepared more exotic, spicy dishes a little bit different and how about some cold dishes too then we could take them on the go, picnics, parks etc.
Q5 Yes and no, if I was just buying for me and a partner fine, but as we are a family of 6 and I like to cook us all the same (if something is good enough for me it is good enough for my children - why should they eat junk) over £20.00 for an evening meal I would sooner pay a take-out (no cooking or cleaning involved for me) The dishes are much better than the Count on Us range - which do taste as though they are severely lacking in - taste!!!
Q6 Yes to a couple but certainly not to a family

Thanks for the trial

picc Mon 28-May-12 19:45:14

only got voucher on Friday, and won't get a chance to get to M&S til later in the week, but will feecback then :-)

Cammelia Mon 28-May-12 19:47:09

Q1. How did you find the SFL range in the store you visited in terms of availability? Was there enough to choose from or not? Which dishes grabbed your attention immediately?

There was a good availability in my local M&S with enough to choose from. The dishes that grabbed my attention immediately were the ones that were reduced in price! Because of the price reduction I was able to buy 3 with my voucher.

Q2. With the dish(es) you tried, did you heat them up in the microwave or oven? Did preparation method factor into your choice of purchase? If you regularly buy 'convenience' meals, how did the SFL dishes compare to others in terms of how quick and easy they are to prepare? If you don't usually buy 'convenience' meals, were you impressed with the speed/ease of preparing the dishes or not?

I have now eaten the Thai green chicken curry, heated up in the microwave. Preparation method did not influence my choice. In terms of easiness to prepare, very similar to other convenience foods.

Q3. How did you find the portion sizes of the dishes you tried? Did you feel full afterwards? And how about your DH/DP - was he/she sufficiently full afterwards? What were his/her thoughts on the portion size?

Portion size: good (ie enough). I did feel full afterwards. My Dh did not have any - this was a one-person portion.

Q4. What did you and your DH/DP think of the dishes you tried in terms of taste and flavour - did you enjoy them or not? Is there anything that you think could be improved on this front? Would you consider the dishes you tried to be 'healthy alternatives' to other ready meal options or not?

The taste of the Thai green chicken curry was very bland, even given that Thai curry is not as spicy as Indian curry. However, the chicken and rice were better quality than most ready-prepared curry dishes. More flavour, please. Fairly healthy option as it contained some fresh red pepper and just the right amount of rice.

Q5. Do you think the dishes you tried represented good value for money or not? Why?

I don't think the meal represented good value for money at full price (£4.99). The reduced price was probably nearer the mark (£3)

Q6. If it came up in conversation, do you think you'd recommend any of the dishes you tried to your friends/family? If so, why? If not, why not?

I wouldn't recommend Thai green chicken curry to friends or family as there are other brands which have more flavour than this M&S version.

lostinpants Mon 28-May-12 20:03:10

1. Not easy to find, difficult to distinguish different ranges in chiller.
Interesting selection offered though when I found them.

2. Oven cooked the Keralan chicken and microwaved the Hoisin duck noodles. Pretty much the same as other ready meal ranges.

3. I was borderline full, had a yogurt afterwards. DP was not full he was disappointed in the size and could eat more.

4. Both dishes were interesting but too bland and the "samosa crust' looked revolting coming out of the oven, was soggy and a bit weird with the curry - which needed more sauce. Lots of duck in the noodle one but somehow overall disappointing, needed a kick of something. I feel they are trying to be authentic and different but don't go far enough - too safe. Didn't feel particularly healthy - had lots of salt and the curry more fat, you can choose relatively healthy options from lots of other ranges.

5. Value for money - no. I can cook a great healthy, filling meal for 4 for the £8 it cost for the 2, the Dine in for £10 is a much better deal. Other supermarkets do comparable dishes. For a family dinner for 4 it would cost £16 - way too expensive. This is better marketed at time poor singles or couples.

6. Might recommend but not to families. Not sure who the range is aimed at.

maxmissie Mon 28-May-12 20:58:05

We had beef stroganoff and red thai chicken curry from the Nottingham store.

Q1 How did you find the SFL range in the store you visited in terms of availability? Was there enough to choose from or not? Which dishes grabbed your attention immediately?

Took me a while to find the range as I don't normally buy ready meals or shop for food in M&S and they do so many 'ready meal' ranges I had to go along a few aisles to find them. There were about 8-10 different dishes to choose from which I thought was a pretty good choice, considering the number of different 'ready meal' ranges M&S appear to do. There was several left of each dish. Pretty much the types of food I like, home cooked type food rather than things you wouldn't normally try at home. The ones i bought were the ones that grabbed my attention when I first looked at what dishes were available.

Q2. With the dish(es) you tried, did you heat them up in the microwave or oven? Did preparation method factor into your choice of purchase? If you regularly buy 'convenience' meals, how did the SFL dishes compare to others in terms of how quick and easy they are to prepare? If you don't usually buy 'convenience' meals, were you impressed with the speed/ease of preparing the dishes or not?

Microwaved both dishes as the pack said this was the best way to cook them and we wanted to eat quickly. Don't regularly buy 'ready meals' but there were pretty quick and easy to cook compared to ones I've bought in the past. They weren't too messy nor was there any danger of the food slopping out of the containers.

Q3. How did you find the portion sizes of the dishes you tried? Did you feel full afterwards? And how about your DH/DP - was he/she sufficiently full afterwards? What were his/her thoughts on the portion size?

The portion sizes were a bit smaller than DH or I would normally eat, especially for DH but on the other hand I felt full afterwards so I probably eat meals that are too large for me! DH didn't complain of being hungry still and has gone off rock climbing so will see when he gets back if they lasted him or not.

Q4. What did you and your DH/DP think of the dishes you tried in terms of taste and flavour - did you enjoy them or not? Is there anything that you think could be improved on this front? Would you consider the dishes you tried to be 'healthy alternatives' to other ready meal options or not?

I enjoyed the curry more than the stroganoff, it wasn't too spicy and was very flavoursome and had plenty of chicken in it. The stroganoff just didn't taste as good as other ones I've had in the past, whereas the curry was as nice as other red curries I've had before. The veg was lovely in both meals, tasted close to being fresh and was crunchy and not soggy. Both meals appeared as 'healthy alternatives' to alot of other 'ready meal' options that I've tried or looked at in the past. They didn't appear to be full of fatty ingredients nor did they taste to fatty or salty.

Q5. Do you think the dishes you tried represented good value for money or not? Why?

Just about good value, especially as they looked nice and healthy in the packaging and you can see how much is in each dish, compared with some others where the box and/or tray are quite large and the meal is disappointingly small and looks nothing like the picture on the box when opened. As I don't normally buy 'ready meals' I don't think these meals will convert me to buying more but I know where to look if I want something that looks and tastes healthy.

Q6. If it came up in conversation, do you think you'd recommend any of the dishes you tried to your friends/family? If so, why? If not, why not?

I probably would, as a decent alternative to a lot of the other 'ready meals' I have looked at or tried before.

MyLifeIsStillChaotic Mon 28-May-12 21:07:47

Q1. How did you find the SFL range in the store you visited in terms of availability? Was there enough to choose from or not? Which dishes grabbed your attention immediately?
I thought there were a lot of dishes to choose from. In all honesty, none of them grabbed my attention immediately and I stood for ages trying to decide what to get.

Q2. With the dish(es) you tried, did you heat them up in the microwave or oven? Did preparation method factor into your choice of purchase? If you regularly buy 'convenience' meals, how did the SFL dishes compare to others in terms of how quick and easy they are to prepare? If you don't usually buy 'convenience' meals, were you impressed with the speed/ease of preparing the dishes or not?
I tried the open chicken fajita dish and cooked it in the oven. I wanted to get dh and I a dish each but he is on a low carb diet and nothing was suitable for him at all. WRT cooking times, I wasn't particularly impressed with the speed of cooking - it was nothing short of what I expected/have experienced before.

Q3. How did you find the portion sizes of the dishes you tried? Did you feel full afterwards? And how about your DH/DP - was he/she sufficiently full afterwards? What were his/her thoughts on the portion size?
Portion size was fairly good. I felt full afterwards although I did cook vegetables to go with it too

Q4. What did you and your DH/DP think of the dishes you tried in terms of taste and flavour - did you enjoy them or not? Is there anything that you think could be improved on this front? Would you consider the dishes you tried to be 'healthy alternatives' to other ready meal options or not?
I thought the dish was ok. I didn't like the black beans in it - have never had beans in a fajita before and it felt like an unnecessary carby 'filler' to me.

Q5. Do you think the dishes you tried represented good value for money or not? Why?
Not really, it would be a very expensive way to feed the two of us - almost £8 for two meals - I could feed us for two full days on that!

Q6. If it came up in conversation, do you think you'd recommend any of the dishes you tried to your friends/family? If so, why? If not, why not?
I wouldn't recommend it over any other M&S food - I love M&S food quality and therefore would generally recommend anything in there, but not this range over any other. Actually I prefer the 'cook' range so I think I would recommend that over the fuller for longer.

herethereeverywhere Mon 28-May-12 21:19:46

I tried the chicken & veg hotspot and the Mexican chilli with wedges.
Our local store only had about 6 or 7 choices but liked the variety. I am not a fan of fish ready meals so chose the two meat options available.
The meals were cooked in the oven for the exact time specified and didn't need any longer. I don't usually buy ready meals as they never look that appetising but these looked nice. DH was a bit sceptical about the portion sizes at first but we both felt full after eating and neither of us required a snack later on.
The chicken in the hotpot was slightly chewy and stringy and the potatoes were quite hard. I think it's difficult to get a hotpot correct in a ready meal so overall I was happy with it. I didn't really like the Mexican chilli and wedges - the wedges were nice but the chilli seemed to be more mush than actual chilli. While the texture wasn't great the flavour and spice were nice.
I thought the price a bit high for the portion size but I did feel full after so I think it would have put me off if I was buying it for the first time but having tried the meals I would be ok paying that price but not on a regular basis.
I would recommend the range to a friend. Overall i think it is a better ready meal than others available.
I also tried the pesto chicken flatbread and that was lovely and definitely filled me up at lunch. I will be buying that again and would recommend to a friend.
The only other point I would make was that I found the range quite hard to find in the shop. It was mixed in with the count on us range and when you are just scanning the shelves the packaging for both ranges seems to blend together if that makes sense.

MaisyMoo123 Mon 28-May-12 22:04:37

Q1. How did you find the SFL range in the store you visited in terms of availability? Was there enough to choose from or not? Which dishes grabbed your attention immediately?

I found the SFL range fairly easily in the Chichester store. There were about 6 dishes to choose from, which was a bit disappointing given how many options there are in the range. I wasn't immediately drawn to any particular dish and it took me a while to pick something that I liked the look of - I think this was partly down to the fact that most of the dishes on offer were hot pots or what I think of as wintery options which just didn't appeal in the summery weather. The dishes weren't very well laid out and were mixed amongst the count on us range and spread over a few shelves (some above eye level) which was also a bit confusing.

Q2. With the dish(es) you tried, did you heat them up in the microwave or oven? Did preparation method factor into your choice of purchase? If you regularly buy 'convenience' meals, how did the SFL dishes compare to others in terms of how quick and easy they are to prepare? If you don't usually buy 'convenience' meals, were you impressed with the speed/ease of preparing the dishes or not?

I eventually picked the paella with chicken and king prawns for both DH and I. I cooked them in the oven as don't really like microwaving food like this. I very rarely buy 'convenience' meals like this but it was quite a treat to be able to just pop it in the oven and it smelt really nice as it was cooking too - it smelt fresh rather than processed which I thought was a good sign!

Q3. How did you find the portion sizes of the dishes you tried? Did you feel full afterwards? And how about your DH/DP - was he/she sufficiently full afterwards? What were his/her thoughts on the portion size?

The portion sizes were a touch smaller than what we would normally dish up for our main evening meal - neither of us eat much during the day so tend to have a hearty dinner! We both felt we needed something on the side so served it with a green salad. I felt the meal filled me up quite nicely - DH wasn't so convinced and popped a garlic bread in the oven, which he ate some of but not all. Neither of us snacked afterwards.

Q4. What did you and your DH/DP think of the dishes you tried in terms of taste and flavour - did you enjoy them or not? Is there anything that you think could be improved on this front? Would you consider the dishes you tried to be 'healthy alternatives' to other ready meal options or not?

We both enjoyed the paella. It looked just the job and was really tasty with a pleasantly fresh flavour. It also didn't taste too salty which is something that usually puts me off ready meals like this. It could've benefited from more generous amounts of chicken - I only had about 3 bits in mine which seemed a bit measley and I would've liked more chorizo too. There were s decent amount of prawns but they were tasteless and had a very weird texture - not unpleasant but just disappointing, bland and not very prawn like! I guess as ready meals go it was a good healthy alternative but I would still prefer something freshly prepared if I'm honest.

Q5. Do you think the dishes you tried represented good value for money or not? Why?
I wouldn't spend this much on a ready meal regularly - £8 for the two of us is quite pricey for an every day thing but as an occasional convenience food they are relatively good value given the different flavours and healthier options.

Q6. If it came up in conversation, do you think you'd recommend any of the dishes you tried to your friends/family? If so, why? If not, why not?
I probably would recommend them but I wouldn't rave about the range. If people were after a different kind of ready meal that offer a healthier option then I would suggest they give the range a try. I'm not sure I'd sell it to them on the keeping you fuller bit though as I'm not sure it fills you up any more than similar meals.

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