M&S started it all with their then-astonishing and still-impressive ‘Dine in for Two for €12.50’ deal. Its popularity inspired a lot of other supermarkets to start offering meals for two or four, all for an attractive low price. Tesco have their Dinner for Two for €12 (it’s not as good as the M&S deal but still better than you’d expect), SuperValu and Superquinn do offers on family dinners, etc. And now Centra are getting in on the dinner deal action, with their own Centra Table for Two offer.
The Centra Table for Two just offers two dishes, a main and a side, but seeing as it only comes in at €6, you can’t really complain. The food is surprisingly rich for such a cheap deal – the mains include Steak Diane, Haddock Mornay and Chicken with Mozzarella and Bacon. The sides include Creamy Mash, Potato Gratin or Root Vegetables. Centra very kindly sent us a few of the dishes to try out, and I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the Steak Diane. Often, ready meals that describe themselves as ‘Steak’ instead turn out to contain stewing beef, but this had real slices of thin steak and a good flavoursome sauce. The Root Vegetables came lightly precooked – I found mine turned out a little soggy, but scooping out some or all of the huge chunk of garlic butter that accompanies the veg would probably remedy this.
It’s all quite processed and there aren’t any healthy choices, something that would stop it from being a regular option for me. The M&S Dine in for Two Deal is a lot more appealing – you can pick fresh ingredients and healthy options for the main and the sides, and for only €6.50 extra you also get a good quality dessert and wine. But having said all that, the M&S deal is only on once a fortnight, and there’s a Centra on every corner. I can definitely see the appeal of this offer if you’re a bit broke and a bit tired and feel like something filling and creamy on the way home on a dull day. Plus if you mix it up a bit – do crispy roast potatoes and green beans to go with the Steak Diane for example, or save the Creamy Mash to have with some good sausages, it could also come in quite handy.
Have you tried the Centra Table for Two deal? What do you think?
Monday 11 June, 2012 at 9:40 am
No way, never, not on your nelly would I take this deal. Its a ready meal! I have never been so tired that I couldn’t muster the energy to pour some pesto on pasta. What next? A Rustlers Microwavable Burger?
Monday 11 June, 2012 at 2:58 pm
Not everyone likes eating pasta with pesto 7 days a week, Claire. I have about 5 minutes to make diner on some days with 2 hungry kids who won’t eat anything salad-y screaming in the background. I start my day at 6 and finish it around 10.30pm if I include the house chores. So some days I really don’t have the time to prepare ahead dishes that will be frozen for our weekdays diners. I love cooking and make everything from scratch when I have the time, but when time is short and the kids are sick of beans on toast, it’s good to have a ready meal at hand. However, these seem quite processed indeed, and I’d rather buy the Superquinn deal that has a main, side and lovely desserts for 8 euros
Monday 11 June, 2012 at 3:19 pm
Did I suggest people should eat pasta and pesto 7 days a week?
Monday 11 June, 2012 at 4:09 pm
no, that’s a way of speaking. What you meant was that eating ready meals was ludicrous because it only takes a few minutes and very little energy to rustle up a quick meal, and pasta and pesto were your example.
There are only a certain amount of quick meals you can whip up in no time with everything at the ready in your larder and fridge, and unless you can live on pasta and salad and cheese toasties for a week, it’s hard to add some variety when you litteraly only have a few minutes. And it’s when these deals come in handy: I sometimes even buy the ready cooked rice pouches because you just need to add a tin of sweetcorn and some cherry tomatoes and some mayo and hey presto! a nice salad that the kids will – or might – eat. A ready meal is not a staple, should certainly not be consumed every day, but it’s handy and some like Superquinn’s or M&S taste good and don’t have any nasties in the ingredients list, so if you don’t eat them good for you but there is no need to look down on the people who rely on a bit of convenience every now and then
Monday 11 June, 2012 at 4:28 pm
Having said that, if the main dish of the deal is a burger with herb butter or haddock mornay (a haddock fillet with some grated cheese on top), there is little value in them: you still need to cook them and in this case it will be cheaper to buy your meat or fish fresh and cook it the same way. But ready made mash that is not instant muck, pre-roasted vegs, or pre-cooked potato gratin are all time savers
Friday 14 February, 2014 at 6:45 pm
I usually don’t buy ready meals but have 3 month old twins who take up a lot of time so decided to try this out for a Friday evening meal. It looked tasty enough and I chose the Chicken in cheese and ham sauce. It says there are two irish chicken breast and I was happy with this as both of us have healthy appetites. To my dismay when I took it out of the package at home it had only one chicken breast cleverly cut to make it look like two. I found this very annoying and frankly one chicken breast is not enough for both of us. I bulked it out with some vegetables but I will not be buying anything from Centra again after this.