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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

TheOtherHelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 05-Jul-12 16:18:47

Thanks to everyone who added their feedback - M&S have found your comments really useful. I'm pleased to say that the winner of the prize draw for a £100 M&S giftcard is...

tobagostreet

Congratulations! Your prize should be with you very soon!

Haribojoe Fri 29-Jun-12 09:41:05

I tried the chicken arrabiatta and the seafood linguine.

I enjoyed both dishes, they had good flavours, were tasty and looked and smelt appealing.

I didn't notice any real difference when oven cooking as opposed to microwaving.

The portions were generous, definitely enough as a main meal for me or my husband, and they definitely kept me duller for longer.

I think they are good value for money as they seem to be made from quality ingredients and are delicious.

I would definitely buy products from this range again, especially as a shift worker who needs something quick and easy to eat that's also tasty and nutritious.

Will definitely be recommending them to friends grin

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?
After being unimpressed with the selection in the Worcester store, I tried the Simply Food branch at Birmingham New Street Station and was more impressed with the selection. DH is not a great lover of spicey food but the range at New Street had a more traditional theme with Chicken Hot Pot standing out.
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?
Fairly standard on the preparation front. Did them in the oven as that is what I prefer to do.
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?
They were fine for me. DH supplemented his with bread which he does for a lot of meals anyway.
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?
They seemed to be healthier than some others I have tried. The portions were larger than most too. Flavours were good for a ready meal.
Q5. Do you think the dishes you tried represented good value for money or not? Why?
Quite expensive for ready meals if bought individually but the 2 for £6 made them better value for money
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?

Probably as a good stand by or when time is very tight. I would recommend them in preference to other own brand ready meals

Anneliz Thu 28-Jun-12 22:38:17

Second try at posting Feedback for the simply fuller longer range by M&S.
Q1. We found it hard to fine the range in our closest store and had to get assistance. There was not much to,choose from so a little disappointed. I chose the Indian style chicken with samosa style topping and DD2 chose pasta with Ragu sauce.

Q2. The pasta dish was microwaveable so DD2 ate this for lunch before her long journey back to uni. She enjoyed the meal but then she is our pasta queen.
My choice the Indian style chicken could only be heated in a conventional oven so not a very quick convenient meal. The samosa style topping should have been crunchy after the 40 mins cooking time but alas most of it was soggy. The chicken itself was quite tasty as was the rest of the sauce, unfortunately only 3 pieces of chicken.

Q3. Both meals were quite filling but we did have them for lunch, I don't think they would be sufficient as a main meal.

Q4. The flavours in both meals was good, DD2 had a good sized portion. My choice could have done with more chicken and may be even a little more veg. These could be a healthy option if we trained ourselves to eat less.

Q5. The price tag of £3.99 was a little steep for the size of the meals, would have liked more.

Q6. I might recommend these meals for a lunch but not for a main meal.

maxylou Thu 28-Jun-12 14:33:33

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 availablity in the store poor. It is a small town store but the only options available were Salmon or Linguine and I don't eat fish. My partner eats fish though so i purchased both of the options for him to try.

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?

Easy to prepare. I have purchased conveniece foods in the past and these were as easy as any other 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?

Portion size was appropriate for my partner, although he would have been able to eat more if the portion was bigger.

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?

My partner enjoyed these dishes, he loves fish but I am not able to eat fish so don't usually make or buy fish dishes so this was a treat

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

I think the dishes are not cheap but not too expensive either, i think the pricing is about right.

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 wouldnt as i didnt try them but my partner might, although he is unlikely too!

diamanteasbigastheritz Thu 28-Jun-12 12:53:23

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?

In my local store the range was split. There was some of the range (salads/wraps etc) in the sandwich/takeaway fridges. After some hunting, discovered more of the range in the prepared/ready meal section.

Had tried one of the ready meals on a previous occasion, enjoyed it and wanted to try more of them, so mainly focussed on that area.

Perhaps 4/5 dishes in salads/wraps and the same number in the ready meals area. I assume because it is a smaller store (FY1) that wasn’t the full range.

Chose the dim sum with noddle soup and a thai 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?

Microwaved both the dishes. I chose microwavable dishes as it suited the need for a speedy supper after work.

The dim sum was a little fiddly as there is an internal shelf in the container, to keep the dumplings out of the soup during heating, and it was removed after heating.

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 were fine, although we tend to eat reasonably lightly at our evening meal.

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 enjoyable and tasty.

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

Rarely buy ready meals, so only limited comparison points. These seemed reasonably priced for an occasional convenience.

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?

Probably – more enjoyable than my (admittedly limited) experience of the usual range of microwave-able ready meals

ilove Thu 28-Jun-12 09:36:28

Q1 Guiseley M&S Simply Food

Got keralan curry & the chicken thai curry. Sadly they have stopped doing my favourite, the chicken & mush risotto - I'm coeliac so I use M&S a lot. There wasn't a lot of choice tbh, but what they did have they had a lot of.

2. Microwaved the thai one, the keralan has to go in the oven - annoying

3. Portion sizes on-ish - should be bigger for the price

4. Both enjoyed them - tasty

5. Average value - good quality but should have more meat/bigger portion. Only ever buy them when on offer tbh

6. I recommend M&S all the time to coeliac friends - usually it is fab

colmargirl Wed 27-Jun-12 20:55:25

Q1
Went to the Teesside Park M&S, but was late in the day so there wasn't a huge choice left - think there had been more earlier in the day as there were quite a few spaces on shelves. Saw the tikka massala had 2 portions left so grabbed them, would have liked bigger selection

q2 Did them in the oven, easy enough to prepare, but so they should be as they are ready meals! Find them equally as easy/hassle-free as any other brand's product

q2 I was fine with the portion size and felt full, my partner laughed when he saw it, but did admit to benig quite full afterwards, though in his opinion, if he doesn't feel stuffed, he doesn't think the portion was big enough! Fine for average appetites though

q4 - curry was really tasty, typical excellent M&S quality, didn't feel like it was massively healthy - could have made a healthier one myself, but that's the point of buying ready meals - you don't have to make it yourself!

q5 - average value - good m&s quality but not particularly good value or a good deal - would prefer to buy 'ordinary' cheaper M&S ready meals

q6 Am happy to recommend M&S food generally, but would not go out of my way to recommend this particular brand - I prefer the better value m&S products.

MMcanny Tue 26-Jun-12 17:07:24

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?

They looked a bit too average ready meal like for my taste tbh. There were not too many to choose from but what was there loked expensive for what you were getting.

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, they were ready meals afterall. I don't usually buy this sort of food. Liked that it was quick and easy but not really what I prefer in terms of a dinner.

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?

Didn't seem like a lot, I put a bit of veg on to add as a side dish. Did feel full enough afterwards, didn't really think about it at the time - and it didn't stop us having our usual late night snakc of biscuits and cheese later. DH thought it was OK, I think he prefers a proper home cooked meal tho. He didn't complain of being hungry afterwards however.

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?

It was the ham hough ones, not something we'd usually have but was the only thing I really fancied 'for a change' from the recipies available. It was OK. Again i liked that we added veg - lots is 'free' on my diet so why not.

Q5. Do you think the dishes you tried represented good value for money or not? Why?
Not really. It's a ready meal I'd expect it to be cheap but they were nearly a fiver each.

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?

Not really. It's still processed food - not sure I'd admit eating that to anyone I know!

Manda472 Tue 26-Jun-12 14:47:35

So sorry for being so slow but I'm here now.
Q1...found the range fairly easily in the store and there was good range to try from. It was well stocked and easy to separate from the other ranges. I chose the kerala curry and prawn Singapore noodles.
Q2....I put them both in the microwave and it was straightforward. Found that even though I followed the instructions the prawns in the noodle dish were v rubbery and odd tasting and the egg on top was not nice at all.
Q3....portion size was good, I think you get alot for your money. DH disagreed though and was still hungry after the curry
Q4.....answered before but in mine the noodles were the best bit and was nice and spicy. DH wasn't that keen on the curry and said there was a bitter aftertaste.
Q5....I would def buy again esp if they were on offer and think they were better value for money than other ready meals we've had.
Q6....would and have recommended to family and friends.

Sorry again for delay
Mandy

californiaburrito Tue 26-Jun-12 10:59:20

Q1. There were about 10 dishes available at the shop i visited. At first glance I had a little trouble separating them from the Count on Us range. I thought the selection was good and, although I can be a bit picky, I would have happily had any of the meals available. When choosing a beef dish for my DH, I did have a little trouble discriminating between some of the dishes.

Q2. I heated one in the microwave (paella) and the other (the beef stew) in the oven. The preparation method didn't influence my choice at all because in my house a ready meal is all about less prep/less mess. We do occasionally have ready meals and I found them to be easier to prepare than what we normally choose.

Q3. We ate our meals for dinner and we both found the portions to be a little small. However, I am breastfeeding and I don't get much a chance to eat during the day and my DH has, um, heavy build, so we normal have quite a large dinner. I also think there could have been a much higher proportion of vegetables in the meals. I would happily eat these meals for lunch though.

Q4. We both liked the dishes. I don't think there was the feeling of the meals being a "Heathy Alternative" to a regular meal as that somehow implies a comprise in terms of flavour.

Q5. I think the meals represented good value for money. Although I do recognize that I spend a lot of money on food.

Q6. I would definitely recommend them as an easy, tasty, healthy ready meal.

TheOtherHelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 26-Jun-12 10:22:40

One of the testers is having trouble logging in to post her feedback so am posting it here on her behalf:

1. There were about 5 dishes available at the shop. I wanted to try the same dish as my husband, as he is a big bloke who enjoys large portions of food and i wanted to see if the meal would fill him up. We both had chicken thai curry.

2. I cooked the meals in the microwave and saved them for a Tuesday, when i have a long day at work and just want a quick meal. Yes they were very easy to prepare. I don't buy ready meals very often but it seemed as easy as others I have tried before.

3. I was impressed by the portion size, especially the large amount of chicken. I was full at the time, but looking to snack on something else after a couple of hours. My husband felt the same, the portions were much more generous than you usually get in a ready meal, but still not totally full.

4. flavour was very good- lovely fresh veg, authentic tasting Thai sauce. Very impressed!Not too salty so yes it felt like a healthy meal.

5. My husband and I felt that £4 each was quite a lot for the meal, although we agreed it was good quality food. I would be more likely to buy a couple if there was a promotion on, eg 2 for £7.

6. My mother in law was recently bereaved and finds it hard to motivate herself to cook fresh food. Also because she lives alone now, buying this kind of meal would be more economical than buying the individual ingredients. Because of the high vegetable content, I will definitely suggest that she tries this range. I don't know if there are more traditional meal options than Thai curry though, that might be too spicy for her tastes.

stephgr Tue 26-Jun-12 02:44:01

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 was surprised by the fact that the range was actually quite difficult to locate occupying a small space behind a pillar in my nearest M&S (Pond Street, London NW3). There weren't many dishes to choose from but I love fish so I went for the seafood linguine and the cod mornay. I had the linguine that evening and DH had the cod. (I tried the cod mornay which was so good I bought more the next day!)

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 them up in the microwave although I would have been just as happy to use the oven. They were so quick and easy - I was impressed as was my husband who expected me to be in the kitchen for ages!

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?
DH loved the mornay but wanted more cod. I thought the portion sizes were about right - I didn't feel hungry afterwards but I didn't feel full either so I had room for dessert.

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?
DH liked the cod mornay but wanted more fish! I loved the taste of both dishes but I would like more fish in the linguine. I particularly liked the cheesey sauce with the cod mornay. I thought they were very healthy being high in protein and nutritionally well balanced.

Q5. Do you think the dishes you tried represented good value for money or not? Why?
The dishes were good value in the sense that they tasted very good and required very little effort. However, in order to be great value I definitely think the amount of fish ought to be increased.

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'd definitely recomment the cod mornay because the fish and the cheesy sauce were really delicious (better than I've had in a number of supposedly leading fish restaurants). I'd recommend the seafood linguine too because it's so convenient.

only4tonight Mon 25-Jun-12 23:32:55

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?

The range was easy enough to find and there was a nice choice. However the range of products suitable for Lunches or freezing could be expanded.

I chose the Cod Mornay and the beef casserole dishes.

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 microwaved the dishes. I did choose the products because they were microwavable as if I were oven cooking a meal, I would prefer to do it from scratch. For me a ready meal is something quick to grab in a busy day rather than a staple.

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?

Both of us found the meals filling but not overly so.

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 meal (I had cod) was "nice". It wasn't outstanding but it was ok. Both my husband and I would eat the meals again and I would chose a simply fuller range over most others in m and s for myself.

Q5. Do you think the dishes you tried represented good value for money or not? Why? Yes the meals were nicer than the average ready meal and were on offer when I bought them so were good value. I would only really get something like that as a back up for myself or my husband when one of us will be late and unable to eat witht he family as normal. They would be far far to expensive for a family meal.

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 say they were nice.

Sunflowergirl2011 Mon 25-Jun-12 20:58:21

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? Lots of choice, and there was plenty that I would try.

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? Microwave - no easier or harder than any other microwave meal.

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? Tried 2 different meals. The green curry was a great size and felt satisfied afterwards. The meatballs portion size seemed OK, but did not 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? The green curry smelled great when cooking, and the taste did not disappoint. Would definitely have this one again. The meatballs I would not buy again. The meatballs had too much onion in and it overpowered the taste. The spaghetti was bland and a little watery. For a quick and easy ready meal, these were healthier than alternatives.

Q5. Do you think the dishes you tried represented good value for money or not? Why? Seemed expensive for a ready meal at around £4 each.

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 buy them again, and if it did come up in conversation, I'd would recommend the green curry. My recommendation would be based on taste rather than health.

weblette Mon 25-Jun-12 18:56:59

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 a while to locate and there were about 12 main meals on offer. Liked the look of the fish dishes, esp Keralan.

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 - we don't usually buy convenience food but these seemed easy enough to do.

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 were fine, about what I would have expected. Liked the 'healthy feel' and yes did feel nicely full afterwards. Dh isn't a big trougher so these were fine for him too, someone with a 'heartier' appetite might have wanted something else 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'm afraid they reminded me why I don't eat convenience foods much sad The textures do suffer and the flavours just don;'t compare to fresh. They did seem 'healthier' than other ready meal options, just not for us.

Q5. Do you think the dishes you tried represented good value for money or not? Why? They were on a 2 for £6 offer which I guess compared well with what you would usually pay for M&S 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? They seemed healthier than other meals on the market so I probably would if I knew people who had ready meals.

mumsneedwine Mon 25-Jun-12 14:10:17

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 very easy to find and a good choice. The green curry and paella ones were the most distinctive.

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 did both ! Tasted better out of thr oven. Knowing I could cook them in a microwave would influence my decision to buy. They were easy to prepare although the packaging was bit tough to remove on one.

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 felt portion size was good but my DH would have liked more and had bread with his. Kids liked them 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?
The Paella was lovely, but I wasn't as keen on the Green Cury as my DP, but we both liked the Chicken dish. Food had more taste than other ready meals and didn't have the processed look that some of them have. Didn't really see them as a healthy alternative but they did taste better.

Q5. Do you think the dishes you tried represented good value for money or not? Why?
Yes, as they tasted good and weren't too expensive even though from M&S.

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?
Did come up in conversation at my book club and I did rec

lisad123 Mon 25-Jun-12 13:09:04

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 fair choice, not lots. I went straight to the salmon

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 had salmon and meatballs and spaghetti. Microwaved them both, easy, quick and simple. Same problem as always with film ripping rather than coming off 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 concerned that portion size looked small especially for my husband. However the meatball dish was bigger. I felt just right after, not like I had over eaten and my husband had a yoghurt aft but felt full.

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?
They were very nice compared to normal microwave meals and tasted more home cooked. Very tasty and can't think of any improvements. Certainly healthy compared to curries which I normally buy. Could serve for dinner with no worries.

Q5. Do you think the dishes you tried represented good value for money or not? Why?
ours had offer on of two for £6 which was great. Not sure I would pay full price though
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 because they tasted so nice and are a nice change to normal microwave meals which are normally very watery.

babyheaves Mon 25-Jun-12 11:04:36

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 wide selection of dishes in the chiller cabinet and a small selection in the lunchtime range. They were easy to find in store as well. The dishes that grabbed my attention were the chicken Katsu Curry as I've never seen that outside of a Japanese restaurant before and the Goan curry with the crispy top, which sadly I couldn't test as I didn't have access to oven during the trial.

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 all of the dishes up in the microwave and was influenced by the prep method as I didn't have access to an oven. I don't often buy convenience foods, but was pleasantly surprised that they were hot in the time specified as it was up to half the time of some other convenience dishes that I have bought 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?

The portion sizes were just right and filled me up so I didn't snack between meals. I was rather impressed by this as usually I would be hungry again a couple of hours later. The HCA's who did this test with me all enjoyed the dishes they tried and agreed that they worked to keep them satisfied which was important as they all were on 12 hour shifts.

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?

Between me, the nurses and the HCAs, we managed to try pretty much every dish in the range. We were all impressed that the beef in the Strognaoff was so tender and also with the amount of king prawns in the Paella dish as you would normally get one or two and in the M&S dish there were a lot more. We all found that they tasted as good as home made dishes and we didn't have a bland example out of all of the things we tried. Following the trial, we all went on to buy more dishes.

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

I think they are very good value for money as while there are cheaper options they don't have the flavour, generous amounts of ingredients and speed of prep as other ready meals. Also, as we found they do keep you full, we didn't snack as much after eating them.

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 definitely recommend all of the dishes, but particularly the Paella, Chicken Katsu Curry and Beeg stroganoff as they tasted great and did what they said they would do.

NB for MNHQ
I did this test while I was an in-patient on a secure psychiatric unit. You have no idea how hard it was to get them to believe that I genuinely was doing a product test for Mumsnet as it doesn't sound very likely when you tell someone who thinks you may be delusional.

It took two health care assistants (supervisory) an Occupational Therapist (pick up voucher and go shopping) a Mental Health nurse (to assess whether this was some kind of fantasy) and a consultant (grant leave to go and pick up voucher and buy stuff) to do this test.

I am not sure whether Marks and Spencer would like to know this but...

1. The meals are great if you are on medication that increases your appetite.
2. 7 out of 10 patients thought the meals smelled and looked better than the stuff served up by the hospital.
3. 8 out of 10 staff are willing to join in and product test foods for Mumsnet along side a patient.
4. I was grateful that the dishes were so quick to cook in a dodgy patient microwave that only blasts food at full power for 30 seconds at a time.

MummyPigsFatTummy Sun 24-Jun-12 19:05:23

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?

In our store, there were plenty of dishes to choose from, although a fair number featured chicken. The more exotic ones grabbed my attention - paella, green and red curry etc.

In the end I chose an aromatice herb and yogurt dressed chicken as it sounded delicious and for DH I got a roast pork loin with apple and cider sauce.

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 microwaved ours as it suggested doing that for best results. We would have bought them even if they had recommended oven cooking as 20-25 minutes wouldn't have been a problem but it was quite attractive only to have to wait for 4 minutes to eat.

In comparison to other convenience meals we have tried, the ones we chose were certainly high up there in terms of ease of preparation - really nothing to do other than stick in the microwave and eat.

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 didn't look huge but both DH and I were surprised to be quite satisfied with our portions and didn't end up snacking later. DH was very impressed as both of us are (unfortunately) big eaters.

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 choices. DH is normally not that impressed with the flavours of convenience foods but would definitely be happy to eat the prk dish again. I found the aromatice chick flavourful and would also choose it again. i was also impressed that there was plenty of chicken and it was soft and tasty. That is often not the case with convenience food.

I did subsequently buy a paella with chicken and king prawns and while, again, I found there were plenty of prawns and chicken pieces, i wasn't as keen on the overall flavour of the dish. I would definitely try others though and had a SFL flatbread with chicken and pesto today (forget the exact name) and also found it tasty and filling. As a range I am impressed.

As far as being "healthy alternatives" was concerned, neither of us felt they tasted like that, in other words like you were sacrificing flavour for health as is often the case. We enjoyed them.

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

They were good value the day I got them as they were two for £6. However, I think they would have been over £4 each normally which I would say is quite pricey. I would fdefinitely look out for them on a deal though.

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, both DH and I would recommend our choices to family and friends, mainly because they were so tasty and filled us up and, of course, were healthier than other convenience foods too. I would probably also mention how quick they were to prepare. The only concern would be price possibly.

I might caveat the paella slightly but I wouldn't put someone off in case it was just me who didn't like it.

Overall, I think it is a very good range and will look out for it when we need a quick and easy meal - would definitely choose it over a takeaway for health reasons.

toomuchmonthatendofthemoney Sun 24-Jun-12 15:17:06

I need to dig the packaging out of the recycling bin, oops, will be back a bit later to answer the questions, please don't close the thread yet!!

Linzilou1508 Fri 22-Jun-12 22:06:18

Hi all, first time poster - hope I do this right!! smile

So off i trotted to M&S with my £10 voucher, I wasn't too excited as I expected the usual selection of "diet" meals ie lasagne, chilli etc. I came across the SFL range in the Edinburgh, Gyle store easily and was struck by the choice of the range. Also, the meals were on offer - 2 for £6, so i decided to stick £2 to the voucher and try four meals smile

My OH is a fussy so and so and wouldn't have eaten any of the meals, so i tested them myself. I often need a meal for work so i chose two that were microwaveable and two that could be oven cooked at home.

The meals i chose were:

Smokey Mexican chicken open fajita (cals 395,fat 12.4g, sat fat 4.1g, salt 1.6g)

Kerelan chicken curry with spiced samosa crust (cals 320, sugar 12g, fat 10g, sat fat 5.3g salt 1.88g)

Scottish Lochmuir salmon with soy and ginger ((cals 430, sugar 9g,fat 18g, sat fat 5g, salt 2.25g)

Beef Bourguignon with mashed potato and savoy cabbage (binned the sleeve so don't have the content - sorry!)

The dishes prepared in the microwave (salmon and bourguignon) were easy to cook, no removing things and adding them at different times, or letting stand for a while then recommencing cooking - I just bunged them in and waited for the beep. Easy peasy!

The dishes prepared in the oven (fajita and curry) were cooked in their packaging and transferred from oven to plate without any fuss.

I was impressed by how easy they were to cook - the packaging also gives guidelines for if you were to cook two meals, very handy as i'll definitely be eating from the range again.

I was also happy with the quality of the meat in each of the dishes. Many of the ready meals i've used in the past have used fatty cuts or promise "succulent chicken" that you have to wade through a colourless, tastless sauce to find. However, the meat was tasty and cooked extremely well. It was well seasoned and the dishes i tried seemed to contain an adequate amount.

I think the dishes represented good value for money. As my mum always says "you get what you pay for" and I'd be happy to pay an extra £1 or so on top of what i'd normally pay for a convenience meal. I hadn't really considered M&S for a lunchtime meal but i definitely will now - as a nurse i'm lucky to get a lunch break half the time so was glad that the SFL range satisfied my appetite until i got home.

If these dishes came up in conversation i would not hesitate to recommend them. I loved all of the meals i tried and will happily be going back to M&S to try some more of the SFL range.

Jamesmom12 Thu 21-Jun-12 13:29:50

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 visited the Tamworth branch of Marks and Spencer in the early evening. I have purchased from the Simply Fuller Longer range before so knew where to locate it, and I think there were around 15 dishes to choose from. I found it quite hard to decide, they all sounded nice, but I gravitated towards the chicken ones and those that were a bit more unusual.

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 chose the Keralan chicken curry and the mexican open fajita. Both were advised to be heated in the oven. This didn't really affect my choice of dish, I'm a stay at home mom so I'm not usually rushing in late and I can afford to wait half an hour for dinner. Would probably aim for the microwave ones when I'm back at work though! Being the world's worst cook I buy a lot of ready meals and these were no more or less complicated to prepare than others really.

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 perfectly happy with the portion size and was actually very full afterwards...more so than with an average ready meal I think. Selfishly, I ate both meals myself on different nights, but my husband tried them and said they tasted really nice.

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 really enjoyed both meals, and it was nice to have something different from the standard ready meal choices. The only thing that annoyed me was that both really stuck to the foil tray they were cooked in, which meant they looked a total mess on the plate and half of it was left behind. I don't know if anything could be done about that? I love the bistro range and the Gastropub range at Marks and Spencer and in all honesty I think I would still more frequently buy from them that Simply Fuller Longer, but on those weeks that I'm trying to be good I would pick them over the Count on Us range, just because they are more filling.

Q5. Do you think the dishes you tried represented good value for money or not? Why?
I think the prices are what I would expect to pay in Marks and Spencer...you could certainly eat for less, but for the convenience and taste you get, I don't think they are particularly over priced. Like I say, I am a terrible cook and a busy mom, so I would happily pay those prices on nights when I really can't be bothered.

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've already discussed them with my mom and advised her to try the curry as she frequently has ready meals as my dad works away a lot. She was also impressed and said she will buy from the range again.

MumToTiny Wed 20-Jun-12 22:42:11

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 took me ages to find the range in store, but I eventually tracked it down! I think there were about 8-10 different meals in the (fairly small) store I went to. There weren't many that really grabbed my attention, so I bought the same for DH and I to try (the curry with the crispy top), and a beef and red wine casserole for DH to take to work (which was reduced because it was short-dated).

Q2. With the dish(es) you tried, did you heat them up in the microwave or oven? Did preparation method factor 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 the curries in the oven, the only way they could be prepared. They were a bit fiddly to serve, as you were supposed to remove the top, stir and dish out the curry from underneath, then replace the crispy top. The top stuck around the edge of the foil container, so I had to prise it off, and it wasn't really very crispy. DH microwaved his casserole in work.
We don't buy convenience foods very often, but the curry we tried was more fuss to heat and serve than other ready meals we've had 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?

- We both felt quite full after the curry, DH was distinctly disappointed by the casserole. He's not a big eater, and had it at lunchtime when he's used to having a small meal, but even so he felt the portion was far too small.

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 enjoyed the curry, although the brown colour of the cauli was a bit off-putting. DH didn't like the casserole - he said it was really bland.
The curry is quite a healthy option, as it contains lots of veg and is much lower in fat and calories than a normal curry.

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

- £7.98 for tea for 2 is a bit steep, I'd rather pay a bit more and have a nice takeaway! DH has bought several waitrose ready meals, which are a similar price, and he says that waitrose beat M&S hands down!

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 them, as our families tend not to buy ready meals, and our friends would be unlikely to pay so much for ready meals. I wouldn't buy them again, but we enjoyed trying something different, so thanks, M&S!

BumgrapesofWrath Wed 20-Jun-12 21:10:56

Sorry it's taken so long, holiday, toddlers etc!

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 did struggle to find the range when I first went arrived in-store – but a friendly member of staff pointed me in the right direction. I had walked past it several times, so it didn’t stand out to me. There was plenty of availability – a whole section dedicated to Simply Fuller Longer. I thought the choice was pretty good, as there were about 5 or 6 dishes I’d happily have picked out of about 10 dishes. The dishes that I liked the look of were ham hock, beef stroganoff, and the thai curries. In the end I opted for a Chicken Katsu Curry for myself and a Chicken Thai Green Curry for DH. The only thing I would say, though not being vegetarian myself, there didn’t seem to be a lot of vegetarian options.

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 was going to heat the dishes up in the oven (as that is what I’d ordinarily do if buying a ready meal), but the instructions stated best results from microwave, so I opted to do that. As I don’t generally eat microwave meals I must say I was very impressed by how soon they were ready – it’s almost tempting to have microwave food more often as it was so easy. The only downside of that is the time you have to wait for the food to cool after it has been removed from the microwave.

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?

We both found the portion sizes big enough. On first impressions I was worried as I would usually eat a lot more than the portion given, however I found myself full before the end of the meal. DH was also satisfied from a hunger point of view at the end of the meal.

However, a couple of hours later I started to feel very hungry, and a little bit after that DH started to feel hungry too. I don’t usually get hungry quite so early on in an evening. Usually for tea we will eat a home cooked nutritious meal, and this ready meal is not as satisfying. It may be because we are used to larger portions, and we do eat a lot of protein.

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 of us enjoyed the flavour of the dishes. I enjoyed mine so much that I had lots of chicken left over as I was busy gobbling down the rice, beans etc. and I always eat the meat first usually! I thought the Thai Curry dish tasted nice, and on par with other Thai curry ready meals. The Katsu curry I thought tasted very special indeed! I think they are a good healthy option from a calorie and fat point of view, though still think the salt content is a bit high for me.

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

I bought the dishes on 2 for £6 which I think is good value for money. At the full price of £3.99 per dish I’m not so sure it’s good value, and probably would only buy occasionally as we do try to budget with food.

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 definitely would recommend the dishes as I think they would be good for people who struggle with portion size. I also think the dishes were tasty (especially the Katsu curry) so would recommend from a taste point of view.

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