Saturday, 24 November 2012

Roasted Stir-Fry Vegetables

For only one pound, the Sainsbury's Basics Vegetable Stir-Fry offers incredible value for money, providing for about 4-5 healthy-sized servings of vegetables per pack. Stir-frying takes considerable time to execute and clean-up after however, so unless your meal features another item involving use of a wok or frying pan, alternative methods of cooking the stir-fry vegetables should be sought.

Looking for a way to have my one of my 5-a-day with my instant noodles lunch, I thought of roasting them. Dressing lightly with olive oil and Basics Herb Mix, I left it in the oven for about 10 minutes at 175 degrees Celsius.

The gist of the concept works. Care should be taken to leave it in the oven for too long as the vegetables will dry out. Within the Basics range however I would find it rather difficult to flavour this without expending too much effort; garlic would require mincing, and Basics vinegar would not work here. Perhaps Basics products found in the deli aisle might lend some taste to it.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Diced Bacon

My current job has seen me working longer hours than I used to do, which means that I now have less time to do weekday dinners. As a result, I now look out for things that can save me preparation time when at Sainsbury's. The Basics Diced Cooking Bacon you see above caught my eye on my last visit.

It seems that Sainsbury's have been introducing a few new Basics products in the meat section, although on close inspection many of them do not appear to be cheap, or at least, cheap enough to warrant the Basics branding. Some of them are even more expensive than say, cheaper cuts of own-brand pork. The Basics diced bacon stands out however, since till now, the cheapest form of diced bacon was the diced lardons, which go for a cool £1.99 for a 250g pack. By contrast, the Basics equivalent is 99p for 200g.

I decided to give these a try, pairing them with whatever leftover Basics vegetables I happened to have with the fridge. Comparing the photos above and below, you can tell that the bacon will shrink significantly, so perhaps this might not be so good if bacon is meant to serve as the protein in your meal.

Overlooking that however, the richness of the bacon goes pretty well with the clean-tasting vegetables.

On sampling, the Sainsbury's Basics diced bacon is certainly flavourful, and would probably be a very viable alternative to using lardons in recipes like beef bourguignon and coq au vin. The bacon shrinks significantly, but if you're using it merely to flavour your food I doubt this would be a major issue. Given also that the alternative would be to buy and dice the big chunky forms of Sainsbury's Basics bacon (also 99p, for 670g, but you would have to spend the next few days eating chunky bacon), you might give the already-diced form serious consideration.

DescriptionPrice per UnitNo. of servingsTrade-up PremiumTrade-up Benefits
Diced Cooking Bacon£0.99200g+£1.00 for 250gLess shrinkage, more regularly-shaped pieces
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