Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Dine in for a tenner

Mrs XTM is working all week, sometimes later than usual, so tonight's supper is a cheat... but a tasty one nevertheless. Roast rosemary potatoes, tender-stem broccoli and chicken breast stuffed with feta cheese and butternut squash, encased in a puff pastry lattice and accompanied by a sweet chilli sauce. Now, before you start clamouring for a recipe I must explain that this is a ready meal from Marks & Spencer.

For those living abroad, I should explain that Marks & Spencer is a British institution. It's a large chain of stores that sell clothes, food, furniture and a few other bits and pieces. The quality is pretty good and the prices are fair. There can hardly be a Brit who hasn't worn Marks & Spencer underwear at some point in their life.

The reason why I like Marks & Spencer is that they regularly offer two main course meals, two vegetable side orders, two desserts and a bottle of wine for just £10. That's less than $17 or A$18 or around €11. I think that's great. Name me any restaurant where two people could dine out for that sort of money. It's a great treat in this credit crunch. It's really good to see a large business offering an affordable treat when times are hard. Let's hope people remember when the good times return.

Dessert was a delicious Lemon and Limoncello Pana Cotta


  1. Hospital meals solved! NHS just start ordering....

  2. It's certainly good value and I'm sure the NHS food producers could do a lot better. I suppose M&S has to tempt it's customers because the people who buy the food are the people who eat it. The NHS catering buyers probably never eat the food they're buying.

  3. I think you have a point there. I used to work for the NHS in a community project where food was delivered and served to our clients free of charge and there was also other food available that they could purchase. The clients almost always paid for food rather than eat the NHS food.

    This M&S stuff looks delicious.

  4. Go for it XTM with the M&S ready meals.:))

    I knew a couple who entertained most Saturdays,and they decanted M&S meals into their own serving dishes!

    Hope things are progressing well with your leg.

    Take care.

  5. "Name me any restaurant where two people could dine out for that sort of money..."

    Chinese buffet restaurant called 'Eat Away' in Leicester.
    Fabulous 'all you can eat' food for £5.50 a head at lunchtimes Mon-Fri. Includes soups, all the starter thingies in batter (incl prawn toast, prawn crackers, chips, spring rolls, bbq ribs, etc), sushi and salad section, choice of about 12 main course dishes, and choice of desserts and fresh fruit and ice cream.
    You do pay for drinks seperately or a jug of tap water is 50p a head.

    Well, you did ask...

  6. Good... but where's the bottle of wine? ;-)

  7. Can see why you did it. But would you do it every night? (No actress / bishop jokes please)

  8. that looks impressive for a ready meal. almost tempted

  9. Very good value TM. We have Marks and Spenser here in Crete, but it only sells clothes and shoes, cheapest kiddies shoes being an off the planet cost of .... 75 euro`s..!!!

    We ventured to Panorma today, stopped at a snack bar and ordered 3 bun`s with cheese and tomato in it, woman put the buns in a large griddle thing and toasted them, very nice and very cheap at 4 euro 70 cents, plus a bottle of water .

    All snack bar`s here are filthy and full of flies, it never bothers the Greeks that their food is covered in flies, so I had odd looks when I hovered over the food and swooshed flies away.

    There are no such things here as ready meals, or a proper resteraunt and the toilets in most places are just a hole in the floor. I kid you not..!!!!


  10. Just to make your wife feel better, re-bought all the ingredients for your wife's super pasta dish of the other night in my local M&S,( which my husband loved) when going through check-out was asked as an aside if we were having pasta for supper, I replied in the affirmative, whereupon all those behind me had to wait while the assistant wrote out the recipe, then when I gave blue cheese as one of the ingredients, she said that beats tomatoe sauce any day.
    You never know it may become an M&S sauce one day.

    The best bit though is hearing that the foot swelling has gone down.

  11. We used to have M&S here in Calgary but it left me high & dry. My sister lived in England in the mid '70's and I um 'donated' a pullover sweater she had bought at M&S to myself and I loved it. With all the Brits who have come over (especially policemen---you guys are missing a fair chunk of Bobbies) one would think M&S would try again.

    That meal looks delicious...our M&S had food. Mrs. XTM is doing just fine keeping you healthy (or getting you there after all that NHS stuff)

    Libby Canada

  12. I haven't heard of M&S before but it sounds like the UK version of the Aussie department chain David Jones. David Jones have some stores with "food halls" which offer the most delectable food - albeit not at M&S prices.
    However last time I went they had the most delicious gourmet pastas in sauces for AUD 10-15 and they lasted 2 of us 2 nights.
    So take into account the pasta, a bag of frozen veggies and a $5 bottle of wine (as cheap wine here can be quite nice!) I think I might just be able to match that offer!
    I am down to my last $10 until pay day tomorrow so its a simple spag bol on the menu tonight with something (haven't decided yet) on the side. Bon appetit!

  13. I wouldn't eat that sort of dish every night it's definitely a Saturday night treat. We had some friends deliver the lamb dish on Saturday night but the meal deal was such good value it was too good on offer to meat. This evening's food will be far more modest. I have to admit that I didn't eat my dessert as my appetite is much reduced and neither did we drink the wine. Those pain killers and alcohol just don't play nicely together.

    @ness Food on Crete sounds almost as bad as the toilets. People always paint Greece as idylic...

  14. If M&S can deliver an edible meal at such a reasonable price, including a bottle of wine, and presumably make a profit, why can't hospitals deliver a better meal for their budgets? Especially considering they would not include the wine, would be buying in considerably large quantities and profitability is not as paramount.

  15. M&S must offer quality, value and service or else go out of business. That choice sharpens the mind.. The NHS is not troubled by such tiresome restrictions and suffers from micro management and meddling by Whitehall buffoons. Stir in a handful of poor leadership and a pinch of low morale and you have a recipe for an organisation that's lostits way. The NHS has some very good staff and the idea of healthcare free when you need it is great. Think how much better it could be with the right management, ethos and freedom from the dead hand of Government! The Dine in for a Tenner shows what can be done when an organisation focuses on its customers.

  16. I love Marks and Spencers, always been my fav shop, a store, thank goodness opened near us a few months ago, I think there prices are amazing now.

  17. Lord, I miss M&S. German supermarkets haven't quite got the idea of promotions or anything fancy yet. I'm sorry the painkillers are interfering with your wine consumption.

    I don't think the NHS will *ever* be able to focus on its customers properly - because if it did, it would be a bottomless pit, what with all the fabulous new treatments that are being invented. You're spot on about the dead hand of Government, none of the politicians are ever going to make unpleasant decisions about rationing, but if they free up the NHS, something like NICE will have to make the horrible decisions (and yes, SOMEONE will have to make them in the end) and we'll all moan about quangocrats being in charge. No-win situation.

  18. What you say is true but are they not using this as a "lost leader". That is what I have always thought whilst taking full adantage of it I admit freely. I have also passed off their panacotta as my own as I detest making desserts - I suppose I will have to own up one day but so far no one has challenged me. (Noone being my OH!)

  19. It is a loss leader although I suspect it's a break-even promotion.

  20. Sometimes in Au it can be a bit on the cold side during winter, I used to wear a 30 year old M&S Parker, you know the ones with the fur lined hood opening ;). It was soooo warm, but alas my body out grew it :( One day I will revisit the country where I was born and buy a new one :)

    Hey TM if you want a laugh you can visit my blog it is about a 35 year old going back to study, I have to do a uni prep course (due to having health problems I can not study full time so will be twice as long as it should be) so that is an extra year on top of the degree (which will be 8 years lol) but then I will have my BSEE and then I hope to go on to do a MSEE, I may even go on to do my PhD in Electronics Engineering :) As I like the idea of being a Doctor ;)

    Not much on the blog right now, but as I get into study next year it will increase ;) I may even sample campus food and let you know how it compares lol.


    Kat in Perth.

  21. Hey everyone! Pop on over to Kat's blog ( and bookmark it. At 35 Kat is going back to take a per-Uni course. You'll do fine, Kat. It's a worry when you haven't done anything like this for a long time but you'll be fine and meet loads of new people. I'm absolutely thrilled for you and really hope you enjoy it. It takes a lot of courage to do what you're doing. I hope everyone gives you loads of support and I'll certainly be looking in and cheering you on.

  22. Hey XTM,you were up early! The M & S food looks a steal.Iv'e been them in the UK but the last one was during an OS trip a couple of years ago, in Larnaca, Cyprus. My Mum and Sister knew a Marks & Sparks was there so I got armed with sizes and got the 'don't come home without....message' These days for anyone that wants to know, the M & S online shopping service extends this far,(OZ and KIWILAND) currently the standard delivery is a 'tenner', and theres some good stuff in the clothing line for 'sheilas and blokes' Depends on the exchange rate how expensive I guess.
    Hope all is well for you and Mrs XTM, Cheers, Chris,Melbourne,OZ

  23. There was a M&S in Amsterdam once. Unfortunately they left. Really loved it. Not just for the foodsection but also for the interior decoration stuff. The meal looks very yummy. I need to visit London someday (soon).