food

'I tried Iceland's 1p ready meals - there were only three dishes I'd eat again'

With many families struggling amid the cost of living crisis, with prices only expected to climb even further, we’re all looking for ways to save cash. Many supermarkets are trying to help customers with deals and price cut, and this week Iceland has become the latest to advertise a bargain offer.

The budget chain has launched a 1p ready meal offer for their online customers, selling frozen ready meals for just 1p each. The range includes lasagne, chicken stew, chicken curry, bangers and mash and other classic dishes. The offer is part of the company’s “Big Cooker Switch Off Challenge”, which sees families across the country ditch their ovens for more energy-efficient appliances, like microwaves.

There are 14 meals available as part of the deal and you simply have to spend £25 or more and enter a code online (READY1P) to claim the discount by November 4. Without the savings, the meals are priced at £1 each – so still pretty good value.

I decided to put the meals to the test to see what they’re really like and if they’re worth giving a go.

food, 'i tried iceland's 1p ready meals - there were only three dishes i'd eat again'

Courtney Pochin trying the Cheesy beans and Sausages

food, 'i tried iceland's 1p ready meals - there were only three dishes i'd eat again'

Courtney trying the Chicken Hotpot

So how did it go?

Well, it’s fair to say the frozen food didn’t look particularly appetising – even a professional photographer couldn’t really do it much justice – but as we all know, it’s not always the appearance that counts.

Of the 11 dishes I tried, there were three standout ones that I would happily eat again and a few that were perfectly fine for the price, but overall my tastebuds weren’t exactly tantalised.

food, 'i tried iceland's 1p ready meals - there were only three dishes i'd eat again'

Iceland Cheesy Beans and Sausage

Cheesy Beans and Sausages

You can’t really go too far wrong with beans and cheese, add in some potatoes and mini pork sausages and it’s a hearty little meal that you could eat for breakfast or dinner. This dish would certainly have benefitted from being cooked in the oven, rather than the microwave to crisp up the potatoes a little more, but cheesy baked beans are a winning combo for me. I’d definitely eat this meal again.

Verdict: 5/5

food, 'i tried iceland's 1p ready meals - there were only three dishes i'd eat again'

Iceland Iceland Chicken Hotpot

Chicken Hotpot

The chicken hotpot initially lacked flavour and just seemed a bit bland. However shortly after the first few mouthfuls, I was hit with an unpleasant after taste. The chicken was also rather chewy, in small cubes that looked more like pieces of tofu. The potatoes were perfectly fine though, but again would have benefitted from crisping up in an oven.

Verdict: 2/5

food, 'i tried iceland's 1p ready meals - there were only three dishes i'd eat again'

Iceland Iceland Mince Beef Hotpot

Minced Beef Hotpot

This was my least favourite of all the frozen ready meals as the dish became very watery during cooking and when served up on a plate the minced beef and gravy mixture looked a little too much like cat food for my liking.

Verdict: 1/5

food, 'i tried iceland's 1p ready meals - there were only three dishes i'd eat again'

Iceland taste test Vegetable Lasagne

Vegetable Lasagne

A perfectly respectable dish, the veggie lasagne was filled with red and yellow peppers, tomato sauce, pasta layers and a spinach sauce, then topped with a white sauce and Emmental cheese. The dish had a strong tomato and basil taste and might have benefitted from a few more vegetables, but wasn’t bad at all – even though it doesn’t photograph so well.

Verdict: 4/5

food, 'i tried iceland's 1p ready meals - there were only three dishes i'd eat again'

Iceland taste test Sweet and Sour Chicken with rice

Sweet & Sour Chicken and Rice

One for the takeaway lovers, this certainly isn’t a bad option if you’re craving a Chinese but can’t afford to splash on a trip to a restaurant – for £1 or 1p if you can nab it during the deal, it’ll save you a fair amount and is a bargain. The only downside here is that the chicken again is a bit chewy, but there’s a good amount of rice, vegetables and sauce.

Verdict: 3.5/5

food, 'i tried iceland's 1p ready meals - there were only three dishes i'd eat again'

Iceland Spaghetti Bolognese

food, 'i tried iceland's 1p ready meals - there were only three dishes i'd eat again'

Courtney trying the Iceland Spaghetti Bolognese

Spaghetti Bolognese

The bolognese didn’t look too appealing and the sauce was very thin and lacked a hearty amount of mince. However, in terms of taste, it was pretty average and very similar to most other bolognese ready meals you might buy from the supermarket. Grating some parmesan over the top and adding a sprinkling of pepper would instantly improve the taste, however I had neither of these in the office. C’est la vie.

Verdict: 3/5

food, 'i tried iceland's 1p ready meals - there were only three dishes i'd eat again'

Chicken Stew and Dumplings

Chicken Stew and Dumplings

All of the ready meals featuring gravy tasted pretty indistinguishable by now. The stew was rather bland and watery, with the gravy having a slightly sweet taste to it. There wasn’t a wild amount of chicken on the plate and the only veg it came with was carrots. Honestly, it was mostly just a lot of liquid, but credit where credit is due, the two dumplings were a very generous size and served as the meal’s saving grace.

Verdict: 2/5

food, 'i tried iceland's 1p ready meals - there were only three dishes i'd eat again'

Iceland Bangers & Mash

Bangers & Mash

The gravy with this meal was slightly different from that served with the stew and hotpots – much darker, but despite the change it still didn’t pack much flavour and was quite bland. The sausages were ok, but the mashed potato had an odd taste to it, which really spoiled the dish for me.

Verdict: 1/5

food, 'i tried iceland's 1p ready meals - there were only three dishes i'd eat again'

Iceland Chicken Curry

Chicken Curry & Rice

By this point in the taste test, I’ve accepted that the chicken is what it is, so we’ll ignore it and move on. This certainly wasn’t the best curry I’ve ever eaten, it didn’t pack much flavour, but the curry sauce reminded me of the one you can buy from the chip shop – just runnier. There were no frills with this dish, no extra veg, just chicken and rice. It’s simple and perfectly fine for £1… more than fine for 1p.

Verdict: 2.5/5

food, 'i tried iceland's 1p ready meals - there were only three dishes i'd eat again'

Iceland Macaroni Cheese

Macaroni Cheese

What’s not to like? Pasta? Good. Cheese sauce? Good.

Verdict: 4/5

food, 'i tried iceland's 1p ready meals - there were only three dishes i'd eat again'

Iceland lasagne

food, 'i tried iceland's 1p ready meals - there were only three dishes i'd eat again'

Iceland lasagne

Lasagne

The meaty lasagne seemed to contain much more filling than the veggie alternative and had a lot more cheese on the top. It still didn’t look great after a spin in the microwave but it definitely was a case of appearances can be deceiving. It certainly tasted better than I’d expected and would be nice for dinner with a side of salad or some chips.

Verdict: 3.5/5

For me, the Cheesy Beans and Sausages was the clear star of the show here, followed by the Vegetable Lasagne and Macaroni Cheese. All three of these I’d be happy to buy again and were the best quality for the price.

The Sweet & Sour Chicken could also be a good option for a fakeaway one evening if that’s your thing, but I’d steer clear of the Minced Beef Hotpot if I were you.

The 1p meal deal is available Friday, November 4 when you shop online and spend £25 or more.

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