Tesco Value Spaghetti Bolognese
Written by The Human Dustbin and posted in Beverages, Food, Microwaveable Snacks, Tins and Packets

I have a veritable banquet or as I like to call it ‘The George Osborne set lunch for 1’ up for review. Exclusively from Tesco’s legendary pessimal range, I bring you the following lunch menu;

Starter
Tesco Value Chicken & Mushroom Flavour Noodle Quick Snack 14p

Main
Tesco Value Spaghetti Bolognese 74p

Wine
Tesco Value Spanish Red Wine 25cl £1.29

Dessert

Tesco Value Chocolate Flavoured Swiss Roll 25p

As you can see I have really pushed the boat out here for my loyal readers. The best thing about this menu is that the wine can stretch to two small glasses and the dessert serves 4, so for just an extra 88p, this can be a lunch for you and someone you (don’t) love.

Tesco Value Chicken & Mushroom Flavour Noodle Quick Snack
Tesco Value Chicken & Mushroom Flavour Noodle Quick SnackFirst I have to make it clear from the start that this is a ‘potted noodle snack’ and not a Pot Noodle™, which of course is a brand name held by Unilever (not Golden Wonder), who I have heard are litigious shits (allegedly) when it comes to people mistakenly associating their high class, delicious and nutritious, trade marked product with lesser ‘potted noodle snacks’. So once more for the hard of reading and for the search engines, this is not a Pot Noodle™.

Now I’ve got that out of the way, lets get down to some serious scrutiny of the cheapest product I have ever purchased for review and requested by multiple readers. I’m rapidly approaching middle age, but in all my years on this earth, a ‘potted noodle snack’ has never passed my lips, even in times of the most dire financial distress and mental imbalance. So with a mixture of dread and curiosity, I put the kettle on.

Tesco Value Chicken & Mushroom Flavour Noodle Quick Snack IngredientsAs I peeled back the foil lid, the scent of a cheap stock cube assaulted my nostrils. I was indeed vaguely chicken like. Quite remarkable for a product that the ingredients reveal, contains just 0.4% ‘Chicken powder’ and equal amounts of Dried Mushrooms and Dried Sweetcorn. Most of what you’re getting is soya protein (2%) and noodles (73%). That leaves 24% for other bits and bobs including ‘Natural Flavourings’ that I believe is a food industry way of concealing Monosodium Glutamate.

Tesco Value Chicken & Mushroom Flavour Noodle Quick Snack CookingFollowing the manufacturers instructions to the letter, I poured in boiling water up to the high tide mark and left to brew fester for 2 minutes before stirring and then leaving for another 2 minutes to get nice and tepid before serving. Taking my serving suggestion from the foil lid, I slopped the brew into a bowl only to find that my half time stirring was not vigorous enough, leaving a corner of dried grit at the base of the pot. After forking it over, adding hot water and slopping it in with the rest, I was ready to eat.

Tesco Value Chicken & Mushroom Flavour Noodle Quick Snack SlopMy first impression visually was ‘tapeworms in soup’. Forking out some noodles and taking my first tentative bite, I remember saying to myself ‘perhaps this is what cooked tapeworms taste like’, the vague savoury taste of MSG with a soft and slightly slimy texture. I didn’t want any more noodles, so I tasted the broth. Not really chicken, but it did have a synthetic edge that made me think that if I consumed the whole bowl I would rapidly turn into a crayon eating, hyperactive gibbering mess. That was it for the starter apart from looking once more into the slop and seeing the lone sweetcorn kernel and thinking that must be the 0.4% all in one!

Appearance: 1/10
Taste: 2/10
Value: 2/10
Overall: 5/30

Retailer:
Tesco Stores Ltd
Manufacturer:
Tesco Stores Ltd
Cost:
£0.14
CPP:

Tesco Value Spaghetti Bolognese Tesco Value Spaghetti BologneseRegularly topping the charts in ‘Britain’s favourite food’ polls, ‘SpagBol’, (the truncated and concatenated word that makes me slightly wince) is the dish that 6 out of 10 Britain’s (including the men who believe as they can cook this, they are now a chef) can cook without a recipe. However, what about those who really just can’t be arsed? Well thank heavens for this 74p ready meal, is all I can say. Now you can have ahem, ‘SpagBol’ in just 4 minutes and a microwave ping.

Tesco Value Spaghetti Bolognese JellyAfter a frankly disgusting and inedible starter, as I whipped this microwave meal out of it’s reassuringly misleading sleeve, I was hoping that this would be OK, as I was getting a bit peckish. It had been in my fridge since purchase 2 days ago and in that time seemed to have congealed into a gelatinous non-moving lump at fridge temperature (it wasn’t frozen at all). I pierced the film lid a few times in a ‘psycho’ fashion with a massive knife, which is the custom in our household, before putting in the microwave for 4 minutes as per the manufacturers instructions, giving myself just enough time to open the wine and let it breathe.

Tesco Value Spaghetti Bolognese GlossyOnce nuked, removing the film I was greeted with a surprisingly appetising aroma. Stirring it up and turning it out onto a plate, it did look at bit, well, ‘glossy’ I believe is the chefs term, lardy is mine. Digging out a forkful of spaghetti and twirling it around my spoon, it did seem very starchy, sticky and clawing. However, the spaghetti itself was reasonably firm to the bite and tasted OK. The sauce was a bit ‘school dinners’ (yeah showing my age now, remember them kids, etc) as it was quite bland and lent towards the more gravy like than tomato and herb. It did have a slightly sweet, as in sugary rather than fruity edge to it, as seems to prevail in these budget dishes. I would prefer they chucked slightly more salt in to make it more palatable to be honest, rather than sugar. Overall it was not bad at all for 74p and was complemented by the wine.

Appearance: 5/10
Taste: 6/10
Value: 5/10
Overall: 16/30

Retailer:
Tesco Stores Ltd
Manufacturer:
Tesco Stores Ltd
Cost:
£0.74
CPP:

Tesco Value Spanish Red Wine
Tesco Value Spanish Red WineI have a confession to make here before I begin. I am an insufferable wine snob. I may not have been educated the expensive way, but I do know my Claret from my Beaujolais. That’s right, I think drinking New World wines or Vin de Pays is lowering my standards to an unacceptable level. So when one of our readers said she uses this wine for cooking but would never drink it, I knew I had a challenge reviewing my first alcoholic beverage.

Tesco Value Spanish Red Wine TetrapakWhen imagining what this wine could possibly taste like, I started to think of the rough elderberry wine my friends and I used to brew as teenagers by the gallon. It didn’t taste too bad after the first bottle. Looking at the tetrapak, the silver seal looked like it needed piercing with a straw, just like a carton of UmBongo.

Tesco Value Spanish Red Wine Big GlassI decanted the third of a bottle into a large glass and let it breathe for a full three and a half minutes. The bouquet reminded me of a cheap wine box, the type that people bring to a barbeque and abandon, then insist on drinking your bottle of Chateau Musar. Taking my first sip, I was surprised that it lacked a country wine rough edge. The label says it is an uncomplicated wine with strawberry flavours, to me it tastes like Beaujolais Nouveau or ‘alcoholic Ribena’. Not something you would really want to drink as an aperitif but was far better than I thought it would be.

Appearance: 4/10
Taste: 4/10
Value: 4/10
Overall: 12/30

Retailer:
Tesco Stores Ltd
Manufacturer:
Tesco Stores Ltd
Cost:
£1.29
CPP:

Tesco Value Chocolate Flavoured Swiss Roll
Tesco Value Chocolate Flavoured Swiss RollI haven’t got a sweet tooth and compared to savoury food, I think that it’s hard to find something sweet and truly awful. However, this lunch needed a fitting dessert and this was one of the cheapest I could find. The first thing that struck me was the size of it. It’s like two mini swiss rolls glued together and apparently serves 4. With these cheap desserts, I’m sure the manufacturers have some sort of unofficial challenge, to see who can cram as much sugar as possible into a product without it turning into an actual sugar cube.

Tesco Value Chocolate Flavoured Swiss Roll TinyTo illustrate my point further, I have photographed the roll next to a 50p piece so you can get a sense of size. After admiring the small but perfectly sized dessert, I cut it up into 4 portions and prepared myself for an underwhelming experience. Looking at the ingredients, it contains fat reduced cocoa powder and no percentage given, which in lay mans terms means ‘next to nothing’. Also in cheap products, fat reduced often means flavour reduced.

Tesco Value Chocolate Flavoured Swiss Roll SugarySo taking the bite sized portion between thumb and forefinger, I took my first bite. The vanilla filling had no flavour at all and only provides a contrasting texture to the sponge. The sponge itself has a vague cocoa taste, but is so wishy-washy, it tastes like it would if you made a chocolate sponge yourself and only had half the required amount of cocoa for the recipe and thought ‘ah fuck it, that’ll do’. The sponge contained so much sugar and Humectants that it was slightly sickly and was grainy in texture. Not a particularly pleasant bite to end the meal on.

Appearance: 4/10
Taste: 3/10
Value: 3/10
Overall: 10/30

Retailer:
Tesco Stores Ltd
Manufacturer:
Tesco Stores Ltd
Cost:
£0.25
CPP:

There you have it, a 3 course meal with wine for under £2.50 The ‘potted noodle snack’ stood head and shoulders above the rest as the worst of the bunch and the Bolognese for being no where near as bad as I thought it would be. The real question is would I buy any of these products again, the answer is no.

Update: 12/02/2013
Who would have thought that dobbin could be quite tasty, I think it’s time to source a Findus Lasagne!