Tesco Meat Free Fishless Fish Cakes

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Contains: wheat

Free from: nuts, palm oil, soy

There was one time back in my omni days at uni when I was so unwell I became a pathetic lump and could not get out of bed, even to feed myself. Yes, you heard that right – not even food could motivate me. Ryan (being the best pal that he is) did my delusional bidding and went down the chippy and got me a fish cake and chips.

It made me feel SO MUCH WORSE. THANKS FOR NOTHING, RYAN.

The point there was supposed to be that I used to love fishcakes so much that I would risk heaving them back up just in case that happened to be my last meal (it was only sinusitis… I was totally not being dramatic…).

I found this brand new box of wonder in the free-from freezer section of Tesco (where I do most of my weekly shop) and I was so excited to try them, expecting great things seeing as Tesco has been well ahead of the game in terms of stocking some top-notch vegan nosh.

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They definitely look that part, and they only take 20 minutes in the oven from frozen which is pretty much the upper limit when it comes to waiting time when you’re a lazy  and impatient bitch like me.

Here’s the thing… while Tesco is often the front runner of supplying us with convenient vegan food, it can also sometimes fall a little flat when it comes to their own-brand stuff.

These fishless fishcakes were perfect… if you were never really a fan of fish.

Instead of fishy, they taste quite starchy. Not in a necessarily unpleasant way… just in a sort of underwhelming “carbs with herbs” kinda way. Texture-wise they’ve hit the bulls-eye because the breadcrumb is really flavourful and doesn’t form a hard shell that conceals a mushy interior. It cooked evenly all the way through and (with enough ketchup) was a fairly inoffensive meal.

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Yeah. The best I can come up with for this is “inoffensive”. God, I should really work in marketing…

Look, it was fine. Not “fine” like how your partner says “fine” when you say you’re going down the pub with your mates and don’t know when you’ll be back. More like “fine” as in “the weather here in England managed to break into the low teens temperature-wise and it isn’t pissing down with rain”. That kind of fine. You aren’t going to put on a garish Hawaiin shirt and party about it, but you’ll take it if it’s there and won’t complain.

In short, there are better fake fish products out there. My omni sister swears that Quorn fishless fingers taste like the real deal, so I’m sure at some point in the future there will be some vegan fishcakes that actually taste like they were at one point somewhat vaguely near the damn ocean…

  • My Rating – 3/5
  • Omnivore Score – 2/5
  • Overall – 3/5

Find this product at: Tesco

Wicked Kitchen BBQ Butternut Mac

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Contains: wheat, soya

Free From: nuts, palm oil

It’s no secret that I love mac and cheese more than life itself. I’ve already tried Tesco’s Free From Mac and Cheese and I was less than impressed. In fact, it fucking offended me. The bar was pretty damn low when I picked up Wicked Kitchen’s mac from my local Tesco, but literally anything could’ve surpassed the absolute shit show of the free-from monstrosity.

Maybe I’m just a purist when it comes to mac and cheese, but my first impression was that it was just TOO DAMN DRY. WHERE IS THE CHEESY SAUCE? This shit should be dripping, gooey, mouth watering. Instead it was kind of… clumpy? At least the pasta was cooked properly… Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t BAD, it just wasn’t GREAT. It still kicks the absolute ass of Tesco’s Free From mac and cheese, but that’s like trying to brag about beating a toddler in a fist fight.

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The BBQ mushrooms were a bit of a saviour here. They really packed a punch flavour- wise which means the sauce was a bit overpowered. Not a bad thing, just something to consider if you’re expecting an oo-ey gooey cheesy party in your mouth. The BBQ mushrooms are the big flavour here, and even if (like me) you hate the texture of mushrooms, they are tasty enough to make you forget that cooked mushrooms feel like tiny chunky slugs in your mouth.

The red cabbage… I have so many questions. Most of them “why?”. They are peppery and actually quite tasty but why the sweet fuck are they slapped on top of my mac? Save this shit for a quinoa salad or some other healthy crap. I came here to eat pasta and carb the fuck up. Get that veg away from me.

Overall, this was filling, non-greasy, and better than your average ready meal. A non-vegan could eat it no problem, but I totally expect them to have the same cabbage qualms as I did.

It also cost FOUR FUCKING POUNDS. FOUR!!!! FOUR!!!!!!

Excuse me while I actually get off my ass and make my own mac and cheese from scratch because £4 is fucking extortionate.

  • My Rating – 3/5
  • Omnivore Score – 5/5
  • Overall – 4/5

Find this product at: Selected Tesco Stores

Wicked Kitchen Nana’s Mushroom Bolognese

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Contains: wheat

Free From: nuts, soy, palm oil

Wicked Kitchen is making big waves in the vegansphere and for good reason – It’s a fucking blessing to have so much choice suddenly dropped into our laps. To find a vegan spagbol boxed up and ready to go makes me almost *almost* drop the resting bitch face and crack a smile right there in the ready meal aisle. For context, the last time I did that in Tesco a 55 year old man tried to chat me up, so this is no small thing.

It doesn’t look as impressive as their Muay Thai Curry but it smells incredible fresh out the microwave (just like Nana intended). It’s got a great texture, which I thought was impressive considering mushroom mince has always sounded like something that was destined to be a disappointment.

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Work with me here and ignore the pathetic foliage smushed on top… The sauce is actually fucking awesome. It’s rich and flavoursome, and everything fits together perfectly to be a proper good hearty meal, which is way more than I thought I’d ever say in favour of a ready meal. Sad leaves aside, it ticks all the boxes for a classic bolognese that would only slightly insult everything an Italian grandmother stands for.

As I was tucking in (read: shovelling pasta into my mouth like a crazed woman) I had the shock of my fucking life when suddenly there were CARROT NOODLES IN MY MOUTH. CARROT. NOODLES. COODLES (?).

What. The. Fuck.

Okay I totally did not read the packaging properly… when it said “carrot” I thought it meant ittybitty chunks in the sauce not STEALTH COODLES LURKING AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BOX.

I feel personally attacked. Mostly because the coodles (I’m officially making this a thing) were basically raw. Raw veg is not my jam. We are the junkfood punks for a reason. Coodles are not that reason. On the other hand, the spinach was actually a nice addition. Possibly because it was fully cooked and completely expected. Fuck you, stealth veg.

Let’s wrap this up before the coodle rant gets out of hand (yes, this is me being restrained). Overall, this was filling and tasty and totally passable as an actual meal. Feed it to an omni and there will be minimal bitching, but the mushroom mince is by no means identical to meat mince so they will just have to accept the fact that an actual vegetable has entered their body. (The SHOCK, the HORROR!)

  • My Rating – 4/5
  • Omnivore Score – 4/5
  • Overall – 4/5

Find this product at: Selected Tesco Stores

Tesco Free-From Cheese with Peppercorns

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Contains: soy

Free from: wheat, palm oil, nuts

Do you want to try a cheese that will punch you square in the fucking face? No? Me either. But I did. Because SCIENCE. And also because it is the latest addition to the free-from coconut alternative cheese range at Tesco, so how could I refuse?

This is a different cheese than the ones we have come to know and love (or hate… the jury seems to be hung on Tesco cheese). It is much softer, creamier, and a little bit wetter than the cheddar or blue block cheeses that Tesco has to offer. It reminds me a hell of a lot of goats cheese, but without the offensive sour tang that I used to fucking despise.

The cheese itself has a nice peppery undertone but HOLY MOTHER OF GOD the peppercorn crust will kick you in the teeth and spit in your bleeding mouth. It is so ridiculously intensely peppery I can only imagine that the food techs of Tesco sat in a room and said “let’s fuck em up”. The worst part is the crust is at the BOTTOM of the packet… hidden… waiting… ready to strike.

I won’t lie to ya, I manhandled my cheese. I grabbed that fucker and scraped off as much of the godforsaken crust as I could. Only then did I actually get to enjoy it without fear of my tongue being turned to ash.

This is one of those things you would buy if you were putting together some fancy-ass cheeseboard at a dinner party you’re hosting to fool yourself and your friends into thinking you’re some sort of upper-class twat.

“Oh Deborah darling do try the peppercorn cheese… it’ll blow your fuckin tits off.”

I think the fuck not. There are peppercorns in my teeth that will be there til I die.

However, I will say that despite the satanic crust the cheese itself is top notch. It would be awesome if Tesco released a range of new cheeses based on this style to add a bit more variety to their already kick-ass free from aisle. It’s one of the few cheeses on their shelves that I would confidently say you could feed an omni with next to no complaints or comments about “real cheese” (seriously, fucking spare me).

So, it’s a bit of a tough one to score this week, so I’m gonna go on the average of how impressive the cheese is and how much peppercorn related regret I have.

  • My Rating – 4/5
  • Omnivore Score – 4/5
  • Overall – 4/5

Find this product at: Tesco

 

 

Tesco Free-From Rocky Road Bites

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Contains: palm oil, soy

Free from: nuts, wheat

I bloody love rocky road. I don’t give a fuck about you sultana-hating purists, rocky road is the shit and I will fight you. The worst part about most free-from rocky road bites is that they are sneakily non-vegan. Seriously, why the fuck would you go to all that effort to make something gluten free, egg free, AND dairy free to then be like “LOL they still got gelatin in ’em tho”. It’s a sick and cruel joke.

FORTUNATELY the ever-reliable Tesco decided to not be sick and cruel bastards and bestowed upon us a tiny tub of terrible tarmac goodness (get it? Terrible tarmac… Rocky road… Is this thing on…?).

The downside: it costs £3 for about 12 mini bites. That is like 6 normal human bites and 4 “G is menstruating and determined” bites. Not exactly value for money…

The upside: RICH AND GOOEY CHOCOLATEY GOODNESS INTERSPERSED WITH CRUNCHY BISCUIT, SULTANAS, AND SQUIDGY MARSHMALLOW.

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That’s a pretty big upside if you ask me. So if you have £3 to burn or are in a desperate pit of chocolate-deprived despair, these bite-sized bastards are the tub to tuck into.

Importantly, the chocolate is an easy pass for any omni, so if you feel like 12 tiny bites are just too much for your (weak ass) self to handle you can rest assured that you can share a tub with all your pals.

Or alternatively, get them to try one and realise how fucking good they are… then proceed to eat the rest of the tub in front of them like the rocky road gremlin you are.

Your choice…

  • My Rating – 5/5
  • Omnivore Score – 4/5
  • Overall – 5/5

Find this product at: Tesco

Tesco Free-From Mac and Cheese

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Contains: soy

Free From: wheat, palm oil, nuts

I fucking LOVE mac and cheese. Do you know how long I waited for this shit to hit the shelves?! I grew up on Kraft mac, that real fine shit from a cardboard box, so to be able to have nutritionally lacking quick-cook cheesy goodness back in my life got me all kinds of excited.

As with any ready meal, you feel like a goddamn failure at life with every stab of the plastic film before you pop your culinary delight in the microwave. But it’s okay, because Tesco has gotten real fuckin fancy and thrown some parsley on that shit. So, clearly, not everything in your life has gone to crap because your dinner has some foliage tossed upon it.

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My first question is: what the FUCK? Why is it so watery?!

Kraft mac and cheese was so thick and gooey it was basically a heart attack in a bowl. THIS SHIT RIGHT HERE COULDN’T EVEN BRING ON A BIT OF LIGHT CHEST PAIN.

If I’m gonna spend £3 on a mac and cheese ready meal I at least want it to be so cheesy I regret it.

Once I stopped being dramatic, I gave it a good stir and a long, hard stare and then tucked in (the stare was necessary, I didn’t know if I could trust this weak-ass attempt at comfort food).

It’s fine.

Like, that’s it.

It’s fine.

It’s definitely not thick or cheesy enough, the pasta is noticeably gluten free (sorry celiacs, that’s not a good thing), and it’s weirdly peppery. It’s totally edible, but one of those ready meals that makes your soul a little sad.

It was like going on a date with someone who is really attractive on paper, but then when you meet them they’re the kind of person to argue that – while they totally wouldn’t vote for him themselves – there are some merits of wotsit Hitler being President of the United States.

Yeah, sorry, there won’t be a second date.

  • My Rating – 2.5/5
  • Omnivore Score – 2.5/5
  • Overall – 2.5/5

Find this product at: Tesco

Tesco Free-From Millionaire’s Dessert

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Contains: palm oil, soya 

Free from: nuts, wheat

I SAID I WAS DONE WITH TESCO’S CHILLED DESSERTS. WELL, GUESS WHAT. I FUCKING LIED.

And you know what?

I’M GLAD I DID.

I have pretty much hated all the chilled desserts Tesco have pumped out because they all taste overwhelmingly of coconut and that shit does not fly with me.

THIS, however, is a game changer.

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It doesn’t look like much, but this NON-COCONUTTY coconut-based dessert is rich, smooth, and has the perfect chocolate:biscuit:caramel ratio. The top layer of dark chocolate mousse is dense enough to make you feel like you didn’t pay £1.50 for three unsatisfying spoonfuls of pudding, but light enough that you forget that ONE POT CONTAINS 59% OF YOUR DAILY SATURATES (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!). FIFTY FUCKING NINE. I know we’re the Junkfood Punks but WHAT THE HELL, TESCO?!

The biscuit layer is exactly the same as that of Tesco’s Free-From Cheesecake. It is still that weak, crumbly chaos we have come to expect; the difference here is that because it isn’t supposedly a weight-bearing “base” you can look past its structural insufficiencies and just enjoy the flaky shortbread as it is.

At the very bottom of this child-size pot you’ll find the salted caramel sauce. It’s alright.

Seriously the caramel sauce is just kinda… caramel sauce. Like, great, you remembered to put it in AND it doesn’t taste like coconut but I’m not giving you a round of applause for something painfully average. It’s not quite as “luxurious” and “indulgent” as Tesco’s marketing team would have you believe.

All in all, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised and actually really enjoyed this dessert. Nice one, Tesco. But still, at £1.50 a pot and with 59% of my daily saturates in one serving, I think I’ll just skip dessert and go straight to the wine instead.

  • My Rating – 4/5
  • Omnivore Score – 4/5
  • Overall – 4/5

Find this product at: Tesco.

Tesco Free-From Rice Pudding with Strawberry

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Free from: gluten, nuts, palm oil, soy

Let’s get one thing straight: I am so fucking done with Tesco’s dairy-alternative desserts.

Why am I so done? THEY ALL. TASTE. LIKE GODDAMN. COCONUT.

I feel like I’ve said this a million times. It’s like they bulk-bought a dick tonne of coconut milk and went “ah crap, how are we gonna get through all of this?!” then some genius in marketing suggested they make a range of refrigerated dairy-free desserts out of it, but no one stopped to check that each individual dessert actually tasted like it was supposed to.

THIS IS NOT RICE PUDDING AS YOU KNOW IT.

It is not creamy, but clumpy. Instead of a smooth homey dessert with soft grains of rice scattered through each spoonful, it’s more like “one lump or two?” and you can bet your ass there won’t be any other flavour than goddamn coconut.

Clearly, this is why the strawberry compote exists.

Hiding at the bottom of the barrel, lumpy and lurking, waiting for your spoon to dive deep enough to catch some and cut the awful taste of the rice pudding with what one would expect to be a sweet berry relief…

Nope. The compote or whatever the hell it is they pumped in there before slopping the pudding on top is just as dull as the rest of it.

I feel betrayed to be honest. I thought the strawberry could save it. It was at this point I lost all hope.

My serving suggestion for this dessert? Throw it in the fucking bin.

That’s £1.25 and five minutes of my life that I’m never getting back.

  • My Rating: 0/5
  • Omnivore Score: 0/5
  • Overall: 0/5

Find this product at Tesco, but for fucks sake don’t buy it.

Tesco Free From Garlic Dough Balls

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Contains: palm oil

Free From: nuts, gluten, soy

Everybody likes garlic dough balls. They’re like garlic bread, but without anyone having to punch a family member in the face in a fight to the death over who has to eat the crusty end piece.

SO. You can imagine my excitement when wandering the frozen aisle of Tesco I came across these purple-packaged beauties.

There are 9 dough balls in a pack. One serving size is 3 dough balls. Let’s get one thing cleared up REAL FAST: NO ONE ONLY EATS THREE DOUGH BALLS. I consumed 30% of my daily saturates in one sitting for you bastards, so you better appreciate this.

First things first, the cooking instructions say to bake until golden brown. The dough balls on the packet aren’t even golden brown, and when that oven timer went off I was not gonna piss around – I had eating to do.

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Good god DAMN these things are garlicky and buttery and I think for a brief moment I fell in love. That was until I shoved a whole dough ball in my mouth and came to the disappointing realisation that the actual texture of the garlic butter was like damp herby nooch*.

As for the balls themselves (laugh it up, you filthy minded heathens), some were super soft and fluffy and basically heaven in your mouth… others were kinda chewy. These are not just straight up vegan dough balls by the way, they’re gluten free too. That’s possibly where this hit-and-miss texture comes from.

If I was hosting some kind of get together I would much rather cook some from scratch than serve these up. Yes you could feed them to your omni friends but they will for sure judge your lazy ass and then bang on about “real butter”. Spare me.

Overall, I wasn’t massively impressed with these Pizza Express wannabes. Yeah, they are huge and definitely not stingy with the garlic butter that’s for sure, but the chewiness and the fact that you won’t be able to hold a face to face conversation with anyone for the foreseeable future makes me think I won’t be having these again, even though they only cost £2.

  • My Rating: 2/5
  • Omnivore Score: 3/5
  • Overall: 2.5/5

Find these at: Tesco

 

*nutritional yeast flakes, for all of you who aren’t down with the kids.