Budget Christmas Dinners

Budget Christmas Dinner No.1 - Morrison's Supermarket, Crowborough - © Andrew Newson

Christmas Dinner No.1 - 7th December 2015

  • Turkey roll (4 slices)
  • Pig in blanket (1)
  • Stuffing
  • Roast potatoes (3)
  • Mashed potato
  • Carrots
  • Sprouts
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Gravy

Price: £6 with dessert (Christmas pudding)
Morrisons supermarket, Crowborough

Notes:
Main meal was a little cold and not enough gravy for my liking. Requested it to be re-heated and for more gravy, which I got.

Mashed potato wasn't the best, didn't enjoy the texture, it was a bit dry.

Vegetables were all good, cooked nicely.

Turkey roll slices were okay, for turkey roll slices!

Roast potatoes I think were courtesy of Aunt Bessie, or someone. Still they were okay, I've certainly had much worse.

Pig in blanket was good, as was the stuffing.

Rating: 6/10

Budget Christmas Dinner No.2 - Sainsbury's Supermarket, Tunbridge Wells - © Andrew Newson

Christmas Dinner No.2 - 8th December 2015

  • Turkey Slices (2)
  • Pigs (no blankets!) (2)
  • Stuffing
  • Roast Potatoes (5)
  • Yorkshire Puddings (2)
  • Carrots
  • Sprouts
  • Cranberry Sauce (Separate)
  • Gravy
  • Extra Gravy (30p)

Price: £5 for main meal only.
Sainsbury's supermarket, Tunbridge Wells

Notes:
I learnt my lesson yesterday and asked for extra gravy, however I didn't really expect I would have to pay for it! There was a fair amount of gravy anyway, enough for a normal person but not for me.

One or two carrots that were beyond their best and slightly under-cooked for my liking. Sprouts were cooked nicely, not too firm and not to soft.

The turkey slices were exceptional, in a different league to what I have had so far.

Pigs were great, but where's the blankets Sainsbury's?! ;-)

Roast potatoes were lovely, crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside.

Yorkshire puddings were a nice addition and were nicely done too.

Overall a good budget Christmas dinner.

Rating: 8/10

RECOMMENDED!

Budget Christmas Dinner No. 3 (Version 1) - Wetherspoon's, The Crowborough Cross, Crowborough - © Andrew Newson

Budget Christmas Dinner No. 3 (Version 1) - Wetherspoon's, The Crowborough Cross, Crowborough - © Andrew Newson

Christmas Dinner No.3 (V.1) - 9th December 2015

  • Turkey roll slices (3)
  • Pigs (no blankets!) (2)
  • Roast Potatoes (4)
  • Mashed Potato
  • Yorkshire Puddings (1)
  • Carrots
  • Sprouts
  • Peas
  • Cranberry Sauce (Separate)
  • Gravy (Separate)

Price: £8.49 for main meal with a pint
Wetherspoon's Pub, The Crowborough Cross, Crowborough

Notes:
At first all looked good, apart from the absence of the blankets on the pigs and lack of stuffing. However the food was not hot enough, in fact cold in places so I had to return it. I simply asked if they could heat it up for me but was told they don't do that, they will do a whole new meal. Okay I thought, if you must. She said it would take about 20 minutes or so, it was probably more like 15 though.

Version 2 turned up and was much warmer and there was more gravy, which pleased me. However the meals were different...

Rating: 4/10
Because it was cold - Let's try again...

Christmas Dinner No.3 (V.2) - 9th December 2015

  • Turkey roll slices (3)
  • Pigs (no blankets!) (2)
  • Roast Potatoes (4)
  • Mashed Potato
  • Yorkshire Puddings (1)
  • Carrots gone!
  • Sprouts gone!
  • Peas
  • Cranberry Sauce (Separate)
  • Gravy (Separate and bigger than version 1)

Price: £8.49 for main meal with a pint
Wetherspoon's Pub

Notes:
As you can see the 2 meals were different, the second not having any carrots or sprouts! I don't know why this is, did they simply forget or run out!? I didn't bother disputing a second time.

The meal was much warmer and the larger gravy boat was very much welcomed.

The turkey roll was okay, nothing special. The pigs were missing their blankets again and I think they had spent some time in the deep fat fryer.

Roast potatoes I think were again of the Aunt Bessie variety. Mashed potato was quite dry but not as bad as Morrisons.

Yorkshire pudding was lovely.

Can't comment on the sprouts and carrots as they disappeared!

Gravy was a little lumpy but had a good full flavour. Cranberry sauce had whole cranberries in and was very nice.

The price was a little over what I had paid so far, but this was in a pub and the others were in supermarkets so I think we can expect that. Of course I got a pint with this meal so we can deduct about £2.50 from the overal price paid, making the meal around £6.

Rating: 5/10
Mainly because of the lack of sprouts, carrots and stuffing.

Budget Christmas Dinner No. 4 - BHS, Tunbridge Wells - © Andrew Newson

Christmas Dinner No.4 - 14th December 2015

  • Turkey crown, hand carved slices (2)
  • Pigs and blankets (1)
  • Roast Potatoes (4)
  • Yorkshire Puddings (1)
  • Stuffing
  • Carrots
  • Sprouts
  • Parsnips
  • Peas
  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Gravy

Price: £6.95 for main meal
BHS Store

Notes:
Last week I travelled 7 miles to Tunbridge Wells to sample the BHS Christmas turkey meal, but unfortunately I was to be disappointed because they had sold out. I took this as a good sign and decided to try again, but arrive much earlier!

First signs were promising as I could see turkey on the hot plate and it was a real turkey crown too!

£6.95 is certainly more than Morisson's or Sainbury's meals, but I was curious to know if it was much better...

To start with the dinner had all the trimmings you could expect, from real turkey to pigs in blankets, stuffing, cranberry sauce and good gravy. What's more I asked if I could have quite a lot of gravy which wasn't a problem and at no extra charge - take note Sainsbury's!

They did have some issues in the restaurant that day as apparently a cooker had broken on them, so that made some of the staff a little more stressed than normal, but they were polite to us.

After the meals were dished up in front of us, we shuffled along to pay and then went to sit down. The food looked great and I could not wait to dig in, but in the back of my mind I was thinking that it was too good to be true, maybe the food would not be good or just be really cold. Not so, the food was mostly delicious and certainly warm enough.

It was really nice to have all of the elements that I deem to be necessary for a good Christmas dinner, with a nice inclusion of parsnips. Some of the food was cooked from frozen I'm sure, such as the potatoes, but this is only to be expected for a meal like this and actually it was all really nice.

It was hard to find fault with the food and whole experience, but if I was to push it I would say that it would have been nice if the restuarant had some Christmas decorations up, although they did have some background music on and we did hear one Christmas song, which was ncie.

Rating: 9.5/10

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!

Budget Christmas Dinner No.5 - TJ Hughes, Eastbourne - © Andrew Newson

Christmas Dinner No.5 - 15th December 2015

  • Turkey roll slices (2)
  • Pigs in blankets (2)
  • Roast Potatoes (20!?)
  • Stuffing (2)
  • Carrots (roasted)
  • Sprouts (15)
  • Parsnips
  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Gravy

Price: £6.25 for main meal
TJ Hughes, Eastbourne

Notes:
Today we travelled to Eastbourne to sample some more budget Christmas dinners. We tried M&S but unfortunately the cafe/restaurant didn't have any Christmas meal on their menu. We ended up at the department store TJ Hughes.

I must admit I wasn't too sure at first because I could see the turkey slices swimming in some sort of liqud and a glance over at the baked beans and they looked like they may have been there for days. Still I wasn't having baked beans so I ordered my Christmas meal.

£6.25 is not the cheapest of all options so far, but it was a big meal. Let's see how it fared...

To start with the dinner had all most of the trimmings you would expect, pigs in blankets, roast carrots, parnsips, stuffing, cranberry sauce and gravy. What's more I asked if I could have quite a lot of gravy which wasn't a problem and at no extra charge - take note Sainsbury's!

The food looked pretty good, the only thing I would say is that the roast potatoes were very small and quite dark in their colour.

The food was warm enough and there was certainly enough of it. The turkey was of the re-formed turkey roll variety, not the first restaurant to have this and actually it was tasted good enough. This dinner differed from others because it the carrots were roasted and it also had parsnips, which only the BHS dinner also had, so far. Carrots and parsnips were lovely. Two stuffing balls were provided but there were a bit dry and tasteless I'm afraid. Lots of sprouts, 15 I think I counted! Some were okay but others had been over-cooked. This dinner had 2 pigs in blakets which beats all dinners so far, they were lovely too. The roast potatoes were plentiful with around 20 on the plate!! They were new potatoes with the skins on and roasted, I'm pretty sure there weren't frozen. However the colour of them was very dark and there were soft on the outside and I suspect they may have been cooked more than once! However they actually tasted quite good despite the lack of crunch.

The food certainly wasn't without it's faults, but there was a lot of it and it tasted quite good. Overall I would say it was quite good value for money.

The restuarant had some Christmas decorations up and some background music. The whole place could really do with an update, it does have a slightly tired feel to the decor.

Rating: 7/10

Christmas Dinner No.6 - 21st December 2015

  • Turkey? No no no!
  • Chicken? Yes!
  • Pigs in blankets (1)
  • Roast Potatoes (6)
  • Stuffing (1)
  • Yorkshire Pudding (1)
  • Carrots
  • Green Beans
  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Gravy

Harvester, Haywards Heath

Notes:
Today I met a friend for lunch and of course we opted for the Christmas Dinner.

Well I say Christmas Dinner, that is a very loose description as there was no turkey on the menu, just chicken! This I felt was a bit of copout and perhaps they shouldn't have even bothered offering a Christmas meal.

I think the prices was about £8.99 for the 1 course which really isn't too bad.

To start with we were lacking some of the vital ingredients for a Christmas Meal. Did I mention there was no turkey, just chicken!? No sprouts! No parsnips, not the end of the world, but they certainly make a nice addition.

The food was all pretty good if I'm honest, the potatoes were of the frozen type, just as most places have been, but they were perfectly edible. The veg was very good and not over-cooked. Yorkshire, pig in blanket and stuffing were all pretty good. That just leaves the chicken, which was nice, but it had their usual BBQ!? flavouring to it, which just didn't seem right for a Christmas meal.

The staff were pretty pleasant and I think they had a few Christmas decorations up.

As a meal I would rate this at about 7/10, but simply because it really wasn't a Christmas meal without turkey, I have to downgrade that score to a 3! Sorry Harvester, try harder next time.

Rating: 3/10