Sunday Times Food Awards
Where to by the best ready-to-cook dishes for a fuss-free Christmas feast
Cooking up a Christmas feast can be taxing and tiring. Luckily, supermarkets now offer convenient, ready-made festive meats, sides and desserts to take the hard work out of catering for a crowd. We put 16 of these dishes to the taste test
HOW WE CONDUCTED OUR TASTE TEST
It's free and fair!
Unlike previous tastings we’ve undertaken, this was not a competitive process where the same items were pitched against each other. Instead we asked four of the largest retailers to share four items for a Christmas celebration with a group of 40 hungry Sunday Times readers.
Chef Kabelo Segone and his team at HTA in Randburg, Joburg, oversaw the preparation of the food according to the packaging instructions.
We then presented the prepared items, without any packaging but with the prices, to our tasters. They were asked to rate each item individually out of 10 points and judge them on appearance, taste and suitability for the festive season.
Auditor Morne Kok oversaw the preparation, tasting and scoring process and tallied the scores, giving an average for each product.
1. EASY-CARVE MEDIUM GAMMON
- Good flavour, slightly salty tones.
- Nice and juicy.
- I expected more flavour.
Price: R79.99 per kg
2. ROAST PORK RIB EYE WITH BALSAMIC GLAZE
- Nice balance of spices.
- Looks amazing but taste doesn't match the look.
- Smells porky.
Price: R129.99 per kg
3. READY-TO-ROAST MEDITERRANEAN VEGETABLES
- Weren't very festive but had great flavour.
- Delicious, but I eat veggies every night so wouldn't have at my Christmas lunch.
- Marrow out of proportion size-wise.
4. LUXURY FESTIVE DESSERT SELECTION
- Delicious mixture, good portion size.
- Fantastic idea, mini cheesecakes my favourite.
Price: R109.99 for 15
PICK N PAY
5. SMOKED BONELESS GAMMON
- Tastes and looks good. Worth the price.
- Looks juicier than it tastes
- Love the extra fatty layer.
Price: R79.99 per kg
6. STUFFED CHICKEN
- Great stuffed bird. Liked the stuffing.
- Way too many herbs on skin, makes it bitter.
- Roasted perfectly.
- Lacked in flavour, stuffing OK.
Price: R62.99 per kg
7. ORANGE AND FENNEL PORK BELLY
- Delicious with nice citrus notes.
- Loved it.
- Well cooked, tasty.
- Tender, no crackling though.
Price: R109.99 per kg
8. CHEESECAKE PUDDING WITH PEAR AND CARAMEL
- Not a cheesecake and overly sweet.
- Too shallow for the container, looks stingy.
- This is a good rich cold Christmas dessert, not a cheesecake.
Price: R69.90 for 560g
9. COOKED GAMMON
- Good balance of saltiness and sweet.
- Too wet and expensive.
- Juicy, good smoky flavour.
- Little tough, but good.
Price: R159.99 per kg
10. FRESHLINE SALT/CORNED BEEF
- Bit dry and bland.
- Never had corned beef for Christmas, it's a tasty alternative.
Price: R119.99 per kg
11. FRESHLINE VEGETABLE KEBABS
- Tastes good, I would buy it.
- A five-year-old could put this together!
- No flavour, lacks salt.
- Nothing to write home about!
Price: R32.99 for six
12. FRESHLINE TRIFLE
- This is jelly and custard, not special.
- Tastes better than it looks.
- I enjoyed it.
13. READY-TO-COOK TURDUCKEN
- This is different. Interesting.
- The turkey is moist but the glaze lacks oomph.
Price: R269.99 for 1.5kg
14. READY-TO-COOK LEMON THYME POTATOES
- Potatoes looked amazing but had no flavour and the lemon made it sour.
Price: R60.99 for 1kg
15. READY-TO-BAKE VENISON PIE
- Garlic-lover's paradise, lacks flavour, can't taste venison.
- Meat is chewy, pastry OK although it has a soggy bottom.
Price: R109.99 for 1kg
16. APRICOT AND SPARKLING WINE-FLAVOURED JELLY BAVARIAN CREAM
- Not too sweet.
- I don't like the look of the canned fruit.
- Wine in jelly is a hit for wine lovers. Cream part tasteless.
- Jelly nice, but cream leaves an awful vegetable-fat aftertaste.
Price: R99.99 for 780g