18 July 2011

Searching for new ideas

Sometimes a person needs a break from cooking before it gets to feel more like slave labour. I can’t really complain though, for five years my guy not only did the cooking but the housework as well. Where was I? Otherwise engaged is the answer, 4 years running the country… sorry the county… for the WI and a year of poor health when Arthur Itis attacked all joints, including fingers. As cooks go, whilst exceedingly willing, my guy was not very adventurous and some of our daily bread came in the form of ready cooked meals from the local supermarket. Some were okay but some were distinctly mundane.

So now I’m back on track and struggling to find new ideas for a main meal.

Having sampled ready meals from supermarkets before it was with some trepidation that I went to browse round the newly opened Waitrose express store in the heart of the shopping precinct. The first thing that struck me was the smell of fresh bread as I walked through the door. It was a perfect greeting on a damp morning.

The décor in the store leant itself to a feeling of cleanliness, as it should, and the well stocked shelves revealed the most inviting goods.

To the right of the bakery section was the sandwich bar that sold, yes, delicious looking sandwiches with more unusual fillings, along with salads of all descriptions, and a sushi bar. I gave a silent cheer because there is no other shop in my area that sells sushi.

Further along was the ready-meal section, single meals to suit all nationalities. After that was the butchers department with divine cuts of meat all ready for the oven, and then I hit the ready-to-cook section with boxed food to suit two people. The offerings were unbelievable.

Forgetting my apprehension about buying ready-to-cook dishes, I purchased a box of chicken fillets, covered with whole asparagus and wrapped in wafer thin prosciutto ham, which I later served with roast potatoes, savoy cabbage and chicken gravy.

Not only was it delicious but for £4.99, for two people, I reckoned I couldn’t have cooked it for the same cost.

You can guess that I’ve been back to the shop since then. Here’s a few of those we’ve tried.

  • Lean Aberdeen Angus beef steaks with chimichurri sauce … that’s a vibrant, punchy sauce of shallots, parsley and oregano with a squeeze of lemon

  • Cured pork loin steaks with a crispy cheddar and cream cheese topping

  • Venison and mushroom Wellington. British venison with wild mushroom and juniper stuffing in puff pastry.

  • Pesto chicken linguine with edamame beans, pine nuts, crème fraĭche and pesto dressing.

To name but a few….

So if you haven’t tried Waitrose and there’s a store near you take a tip from me and at least go and have a look.


  1. oh Val.. you had my mouth drooling
    reading this post... it all sounds
    delicious. No Waitrose near here..
    but we do have a Fresh Market that sounds very similar... even the sushi
    bar .. NOT MY PREFERENCE but it does
    look appealing.

  2. We don't have Waitrose oop north much to my dismay, because it's the only place that sells my favourite white wine - Surrey Gold. If you haven't tried it treat yourself Valerie. x

  3. mmm..this sounds wonderful...i am always up for trying new meals....

  4. Hang on a minute - I think you should declare whether there is any conflict of interest going on here. Otherwise you might find yourself dragged in front of a Parliamentary Select Committee.

  5. "for five years my guy not only did the cooking but the housework as well."

    Oh boy, now that's the kind of partner I need to have because I can't stand cooking! I love to EAT, but I wish I could hire someone to do all the cooking. I wouldn't even mind cleaning up the dishes!

    Hey, Waltrose sounds wonderful! I too purchase ready-made meals. They sell them at a place called Super Fresh, here in Philly. I love it because all I have to do is heat it up and VIOLA!

    And they're very yummmy!

    Hope you're having a great day, dear lady!


  6. Now I have to go to the supermarket. I'm flipping hungry all of a sudden. I wonder why that might be?

  7. I wish there was a Waitrose store as those meals sound very tasty. I enjoy cooking but I really have to be in the mood to do anything creative, and if I don't start it earlier in the day forget it. I enjoy the easier meals with very little fuss, simple but nutritious and delicious. Occasionally I get the Bob Evans ready-made mashed potatoes that only have to be heated up. Pretty picky about ready-made mashed potatoes but they are the best we've ever tasted, and are great for throwing into the microwave when I have been out all day and running short on time. I also have started eating sushi over the last five years, but only the vegetable kind. My favorite right now is the one filled with avocado and cucumber with brown rice. I like the taste but I also like the low calorie content.

  8. Faye, Sushi isn't my kind of food but it was good to see that it was on offer for someone who did like it. No other store has a sushi bar.

    Pearl, I'll look out for that wine.

    Brian, me too.

    Alan, You know what the PLC can do!

    Ron, now that's what I would like, a resident cook. And a cleaner, and a laundry woman, and someone to do the ironing. I don't want much out of life, do I?

    John, sorry I made you hungry...

    Denise, I'll look out for Bob Evans' mash. I haven't heard of him so maybe he's local to you and not me.

  9. The meal descriptions sounded good to me! I like trying new things.

  10. The pesto chicken linguine had my name on it!

  11. It is always interesting to see what the rest of the world eats. My family history came from off of the plains and venison could have been eaten along with buffalo, but you would have to have a hunter in the family to eat venison in this country.

  12. Those meals sound delicious! Were these made in their store or are they a packaged brand?
    My hubby is so picky about what he eats that it is very hard to shop and cool for him!
    Glad you're feeling back to your old self again!

  13. I would enjoy that kind of store! Sounds lovely and inspiring.


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