Sunday, 17 July 2011


Despite the weather, summer is finally in full swing in the UK, and that usually means that strawberries are in cheap abundant supply. This is also the period where Sainsbury's will switch strawberry suppliers from those based in countries with warmer climates to the British Isles. The Basics range is no exception, except that unlike the regular strawberries, there is no price change, for some odd reason.

If memory serves, these strawberries have been featured by Jamie Oliver on a TV commercial, where after commenting on oddly-shaped they looked, proceeded to incorporate them into an attractive-looking dessert. The picture below probably demonstrates why - Most of the good looking strawberries will fetch more. For good reason too - I think strawberries are one of the few things that I can think of amongst the fruit and vegetables section where presentation really matters. As far as I know, most of the other fresh fruit available in the Sainsbury's Basics range are still pretty presentable on its own; the bananas, kiwis and apples come to mind. Perhaps they may come in less regular sizes, but at least visual deformities are not as pronounced as with the strawberries.

The condition of the strawberries are not as good either - A few of them were soft and mushy which made me less able to tell if they were still safe to eat. I can however imagine these being fun to make jam with, especially as summer draws to a close.

DescriptionPrice per UnitNo. of servingsTrade-up PremiumTrade-up Benefits
Strawberries£1.00250g+£1.00 for 400gBetter looking, better condition strawberries. Recommended.

[Note: I am currently spending time away from the UK and will return towards the end of the month. Apologies for my absence in the meantime. However, I will happily entertain any guest submissions that readers want to make. Just leave a comment on this blog post with some form of contact details and I will get in touch.]

[Edit: An ad featuring Jamie Oliver showcasing Sainsbury's Basics strawberries can be found here.]

Thursday, 7 July 2011


As I wind things down here in preparation for my summer break out of the UK, I find myself increasingly unavailable to cook meals from scratch. I hence have to resort to either eating out or buying ready meals to tide me over the times when I am at home. I thought that this would hence be an opportune time for me to explore the ready meals within the Sainsbury's Basics range.

Generally however, I avoid them. As I discussed with somebody who left a comment on my blog some time ago, the more processed a product is, ie, the more steps involved in manufacturing it, the more opportunities Sainsbury's will find to cut costs. They could skimp on the amount of ingredients, use cheaper substitutes, and in some cases, use fillers, as is the case with the Chicken Kiev, and the Low Price frozen mince I bought before Sainsbury's changed their budget branding to Basics. But that's a story for another time.

Of the several pasta meals that Sainsbury's carries, I decided to go with the lasagne. I can easily make most of the other pasta dishes from scratch, but making lasagne is a time-consuming and difficult exercise which I have yet to fully master.

The lasagne is thoroughly disappointing, severely lacking in beef content, which would explain why they are probably unable to label it as "Beef Lasagne". When supplemented with a salad and an orange however I was reasonably sated, so perhaps the tag line "Part of a complete dinner" would be pretty fitting.

DescriptionPrice per UnitNo. of servingsTrade-up PremiumTrade-up Benefits
Meat Lasagne£0.74 or £2.98300g or 1.5kg+£1.16 for 400g, +£2.02 for 1.5kgMore substantial serving. Recommended
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