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We compared the M&S and Tesco Finest £10 dine in meals to see which was best

When it comes to the end of a busy working week, it’s nice to sit down to a nice dinner that has been cooked for you by someone else, sip a glass of wine and just unwind.

But doing that comes at a price – heading out to a restaurant to have a couple of courses and some plonk can often amount to the lion’s share of your weekly shopping budget.

That’s why those supermarket ‘two dine for £10’ meal deals are so great.

Read more: I tried these Christmas sandwiches from five supermarkets and there was a surprising winner

Short of plonking them in the oven, you don’t have to do much to get maximum results, and that’s exactly the kind of dinner we like best.

So we went to five of the biggest supermarkets to see which offered the best two-for-a-tenner meals.

We couldn’t find any meal deal offers in Morrisons, Sainsbury’s or Asda, but we came up trumps in M&S and Tesco.

Both had bays offering different dinner options and so we wanted to investigate: which supermarket offers the best value for money?

And which has the tastiest food?

We’ve pitted them against one another and this is what we found:

Marks & Spencer

The M&S meal included a starter, main and side for £10

Marks and Spencer offers either a starter or a dessert, a main course and a side dish in its £10 Dine In deal.

We had the choice of three starters, but went for the camembert with oatcakes because cheese is the best and the other two options were duck or prawn, and we’re vegetarian.

There were two veggie options to choose from in the Gastropub range which was filled with meals like lasagne, chicken kievs, cottage pie and paella.

We went for the roasted aubergine with mozzarella over the macaroni cheese given our choice of starter but it was a bit disappointing that the meat-free options were all cheese heavy.

For our side, we discounted the mash, the truffle cauliflower cheese and went for a portion of peas, spinach, green beans and samphire.

One of the best things about our choices was how easy they were to cook. The aubergine is already in a tin for baking, so I just had to chuck it in the oven and it was ready in less than half an hour.

In the mean time, we enjoyed the camembert which was exactly as we’d imagined: delicious but nothing particularly special.

We could really have done with some nice red wine to go with the aubergine, which was beautifully seasoned and very authentic – it could have come fresh from an Italian chef’s kitchen.

The vegetables were just delicious, the samphire by far the best bit, salty and crisp to cut through the creaminess of the main.

All in all it was a good meal, but it felt somehow incomplete.

Tesco

We compared the M&S and Tesco Finest £10 dine in meals to see which was best
A main, side, dessert and wine were included in the Tesco deal

Our Tesco choices were a little more limited than M&S, the shelves were already quite empty when we went on a Tuesday afternoon.

However, the Tesco Finest Dinner for Two offered more bang for your buck – you get a main, a side, a dessert and a drink for £10.

The mains were similar to those in M&S in that they were pub grub style. Were we meat eaters, we could have gone for paella, cottage pie, chicken tagine or a chorizo mac and cheese.

Instead we went for the only veggie option we could find, a butternut squash and goat’s cheese lasagne.

Sides included creamed cabbage or peas with pancetta so we were for the very un-Italian choice of chunky chips!

For dessert, we opted for the only one available on the shelves – sticky toffee croissant swirls and for drink it was a no brainer, a bottle of merlot.

We took our choices to the till and scanned it all through and it showed the total: £18.60.

A customer assistant said that I couldn’t have it for a tenner if I didn’t have a Clubcard. I knew Tesco was pushing hard for customers to sign up to its loyalty scheme but I was surprised at just how much it would cost if you weren’t willing to give over your personal information.

I can’t confirm or deny whether I grabbed a complete stranger and begged them to scan their Clubcard for me instead of just signing up for one myself, but either way, I got home with the goods and a bad taste in my gob.

The meal was pleasant, the lasagne pretty unremarkable but the chips fluffy and moreish. It didn’t feel like anything overly special, it just felt like any other dinner from Tesco.

What really made it great though, was the addition of wine – which was a lovely, fruity merlot, ideal for pairing with a lasagne – and the dessert, which was, as Mary Berry would say, a showstopper.

Warmed through in the oven, it was a really special pud. Roasted pecans offered nuttiness and the toffee was sweet. Light and flaky pastry meant it wasn’t too stodgy and the spicy date filling made it taste like autumn in a pudding. I loved it.

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So which was best?

While Tesco made me happy with its delicious pudding and tasty wine, the M&S food was undoubtedly better on the whole.

I would have loved a blend of both of the deals – the boring Tesco Finest lasagne paired with those samphire greens, the Tesco wine with the aubergine from Marks. That Tesco pudding, anywhere, with anything.

Perhaps that’s what I’ll do next time, and have two nights of decadent dishes.

Overall, I feel that Tesco offers the best comprehensive dining in experience and I’m sure that meat eaters would have had a better time than us given the breadth of choice on offer for them.

I’d call that a win for Tesco, even if you do have to exchange your private details in order to get it!


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