Sunday Times Food Awards 2018

Where to buy the tastiest heat-and-eat macaroni & cheese

Our taste testers have spoken: here's which SA supermarket to head to when you want to pick up a quick, ready-made meal

12 August 2018 - 00:00 By Hilary Biller
Macaroni and cheese is not Italian - as if! - but rather has UK and US roots
Macaroni and cheese is not Italian - as if! - but rather has UK and US roots
Image: 123RF/rez_art

HOW WE CONDUCTED OUR TASTE TEST

IT'S FREE AND FAIR!

Chefs-in-training make excellent tasters. They clearly love food, especially if they haven't had to prepare it themselves; they're curious about food; they have a well -developed sense of taste; and when it comes to rating a product, they pull no punches.

For this reason, we asked Chef Charl Crause of FBI Chefs School in Joburg North to gather a group of students and their lecturers for a blind tasting of supermarket ready meals.

All products were purchased, stripped of their packaging and numbered by a team of students (who didn't take part in the tasting) in the FBI Chef School kitchen, under the watchful eye of auditor Jade Craig, who checked that the dishes were prepared exactly to the package instructions. In some cases, the reheating time was insufficient.

THE RESULTS

FIRST PLACE: PICK N PAY

Macaroni and Cheese

Price: R41.26 for 300g

What the judges said:

  • Charl: Good appearance, pasta well cooked and ratio of ingredients good.
  • Leandrie: Smells good, looks creamy. The pasta is not overcooked.
  • David: Looks delicious. I can see bits of cheese and there's a great aroma. The pasta is very well cooked. The sauce is a perfect thickness.
From top: macaroni and cheese from Pick n Pay, Woolworths and Checkers Bella Vita.
From top: macaroni and cheese from Pick n Pay, Woolworths and Checkers Bella Vita.
Image: Christoph Hoffmann

SECOND PLACE: WOOLWORTHS

Macaroni Cheese

Price: R49.99 for 300g

What the judges said:

  • Kufanele: The pasta is nicely cooked but it needs more cheese.
  • Nadine: Needs more seasoning and cheese. The pasta is a little overcooked. Other than that it's delicious.
  • Kristin: Creamy taste. The pasta is overcooked, but the sauce is a perfect consistency.

THIRD PLACE: CHECKERS

Bella Vita Macaroni & Cheese

Price: R34.99 for 300g

What the judges said:

  • Vincent: The cheese flavour is very strong. The pasta is overcooked, not al dente.
  • David: Looks delicious but the pasta is overcooked. The cheese flavour is too intense. No seasoning.
  • Ferroudja: The cheese is dominant - you taste more cheese than any other ingredients.

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