Calypso, The Indytute's Head of Everything, puts supermarket cooking kits to the test 🍽
There's nothing quite like a home-cooked meal. But the problem with home-cooked meals is that someone has to, y'know, cook them. Which requires all sorts of planning, foresight, patience and, if you want to make something really fancy, proper tekkers.
In fact, it makes me feel exhausted just thinking about it. But the good ol' supermarket has come to the rescue, creating at-home cooking kits that promise to help you boss bao buns, whip up the gooey-ist of brownies and make veggie hoisin duck pancakes.
But are they all they're cracked up to be? I put three kits to the test, tracking down the best supermarket cooking kits to take your cooking from meh to mouthwatering. Just call me Nigella.
And of course – if all this inspires you to get making anything and everything from your own cyanotype prints to a painted clutch bag, you should have a gander at our frankly excellent stay-home experiences section. 👀
image: Marta Filipczyk. Disclaimer: your bao probably won't look quite this good
I did this one with my 4 year old and he was so excited. We watched the very helpful video, before he diligently cut and pickled the cucumber. I turned my back for 5 minutes (I prefer to oversea these sorts of things carefully when my lunch is at risk). He had the dough out, rolled and folded into buns in seconds which meant they were very large and lopsided which meant they we ran into difficulty with the steaming.
We didn't have a steamer so we tried their suggestion of a plate with boiling water. 30 minutes later, still no buns. I went off-piste and put them to steam in a colander with a lid, which did the trick.
Verdict: Super fun to do and rather tasty. Would definitely do again. – ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
The Superfood Bakery's Gluten-Free Brownies, £4.99
image: Toa Heftiba
So quick to make that I managed to make them and eat them ALL within half an hour. Don't judge, I shared them with a friend. They were an emergency pudding when a friend came for dinner. I covered in raspberries and hot chocolate sauce with the packet hidden in the depths of the cupboard. Ta daaaa. Light, spongy and undeniably moreish.
Verdict: Not as good as making your own but…. – ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
My secret weapon – I always have a couple of these in the store cupboard and again perfect if you want to pretend you have spent hours over the stove. Back in the good old days when parties were on trend I fed a group of 20 and bulked a few kits out with extra tomatoes and no one knew a thing. So don't tell anyone, OK? Pile it high with fresh coriander and saffron rice and keep your mouth shut and you'll be the host(ess) with the most(est). One downside: they're wrapped in a lot of very thick plastic.
Verdict: Obviously not a patch on The Indytute's curry club, which takes you to Gymkhana level cooking, but still tasty. – ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
image: Linda McCartney foods
Ahhh Linda Mcartney a name that conjures up kindness and wellbeing… Delighted to read that her products are 94% plastic free and aiming to go plastic free next year. Me and my handsome four-year-old assistant made these on a night when I didn't feel like cooking – there wasn't much to prep, but the veggie duck (made out of tofu) was very tasty and the pancakes worked a treat, although I find all the sauces too sweet. We don't have a microwave so I just steamed these in my colander again.
Verdict: Easy and tasty. – ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ (Bonus star for the plastic-free mission)
FURTHER READING: Get the inside scoop on The Indytute's curry club kit by reading our review.
main image: Calum Lewis