The story behind those green boxes

As we leave Christmas behind, I am reminded of the visit I made to Waitrose just after Christmas to get some coffee and milk. As I looked down the aisles I noticed amongst the shelves lots of large green boxes.

For many of us, planning our Christmas meals, we order main courses, sides, party dishes and desserts from our favourite supermarket and then as the big day approaches, we try to get through the crowds to pick up our orders. Often these orders come in plain boxes, and in the case of Waitrose green coloured boxes.

The reality is that not everyone comes and collects their orders. I also suspect sometimes people pick up their boxes, having only paid a deposit and leave the one or two they don’t want before leaving the store. What is the story behind those forgotten or left behind green boxes? We may never know, but it did get me thinking about what those stories could be?

Was the order placed and then personal circumstances changed so the order was never picked up. Was it something drastic and awful? A sudden admission to hospital, redundancy, something worse! The meal might not have been cancelled, just reduced in size and numbers. They didn’t need as many joints of meat as they ordered, that boneless stuffed leg of lamb gets left on the shelf.

Maybe it was less dramatic, maybe that unexpected invite meant that a massive festive feast was no longer needed. The need to cook a large meal disappears, the order is ignored.

Could it have even been forgotten, maybe an order was placed elsewhere and a solitary green box was ordered and then forgotten.

Amongst the green boxes on the shelves was a vegan party pack comprising red onion bhajis, crisp sweet potato nibbles, and some dips. Was this ordered and then left behind? Were the vegan friends that were originally invited over for Christmas drinks and nibbles now unable to attend? Had the daughter broken up with the vegan boyfriend? We will never know for sure.

In a large green box was a large shin of beef. A huge joint that required extensive time, five plus hours, in the oven to cook. Maybe this isn’t what they thought it was, maybe they thought it was a pre-cooked beef shin that had been slow cooked and only needed heating up in the oven.

I know that sometimes when I have picked up an order, what I get is not what I expected and I feel a little disappointed. I can quite easily imagine ordering an expensive green box, looking inside, thinking, that is not what I was expecting, and leaving it in the store.

What are the stories behind the green boxes, we may never know.

Yo! Tesco

I don’t go to Tesco that often, usually using other supermarkets. However having enjoyed the Sosu Amoy Donburi Meal Kit which I bought from there I headed there to get another pack and do some shopping. I was a little surprised though to see this new Yo! kiosk in the store.

I didn’t realise that this was both a thing and that there was one in my local Tesco.

They did have a really nice selection of sushi on sale, and I was tempted. Maybe next time I fancy sushi, I might try it out.

Greek Tzoumagias-Style Sausages

During the recent Greek week at Lidl I bought some Tzoumagias-Style Pork Sausages with Leek.

There are seven sausages and in the pack.

I cooked them simply in a warm frying pan until they were browned and hot all the way through.

These have a lovely meaty texture and some nice flavours. I have no idea how authentic these are, but I do like them.

These were better and much nicer that the sausage I recently had at The Real Greek.

Short supply or high demand?

On a recent shopping visit to Sainsburys I was disappointed with the number of empty shelves and lack of produce.

I was annoyed that quite a bit of gluten free produce wasn’t available.

It must be happening a lot as they had some specially printed shelf fillers.

Sainsburys put down the problem to “high demand”, so it’s the fault of the customer, panic buying and all that.

However the problem isn’t unique to Sainsburys and on Twitter there are photos of empty shelves in Tesco. I have also had issues with buying some gluten free produce at Asda.

Not everyone though thinks it is down to high demand, as seen on this sign in Waitrose that I saw yesterday. No shelf fillers, but a sign indicating that the lack of choice was down to “country-side supply issues”.

We know there are logistics issues down to a lack of HGV drivers, and combine that with Covid-19, Brexit supply issues we are approaching a perfect storm.

When we had the panic buying in March 2020, the retail industry assured us that supply wasn’t a problem and that if we only bought what we needed then they could supply everyone. The challenge we face now is that if there is an increase in panic buying now, the situation will only exacerbate as we have supply and logistics issues. The lack of pasta and toilet paper we experienced back then could become a lack of a much wider range of products.

It’s all quite worrying.

Not enough time

One of the nice things about Aldi is also one of the annoying things about Aldi.

Each week they have new stuff, alas they only get limited stock in for that week and once it is sold they don’t get any more stock in.

This means that you can find something you really like, but you generally won’t be able to buy it again.

I recently managed to make some tasty raspberry and white chocolate cookies using a pack of raspberry and white chocolate from Aldi. This was one of their one week stock, as a result I am not able to replace the pack I finished.

A couple of weeks ago they had venison steaks for sale, I bought a pack and cooked them for dinner and they were some of the best venison steaks I have ever had. I cooked them in a frying pan in butter with garlic and herbs.

venison steak

The end result was tasty, delicious and really tender meat.  To go with it I made a sauce with pancetta, mushrooms and port. I really enjoyed and cooking the venison steaks.

However I wasn’t surprised when I went back to Aldi they no longer had any and weren’t selling it any more.

This week though they were selling venison fillet. I bought a pack and cooked it in a similar way. It was very nice, but was not as good as the steaks.

Next week, well there could be anything there…

Lidl French Week

I do quite enjoy the way that Lidl does themed flavour weeks, and I often visit just to see what they have and get a few things.

This week is French week.

I enjoyed the Rosette Air-Dried Salami, so much so, that I went back a day later to get some more, but my local branch had sold out. It was tasty salami.

The Laiterie de la Montagne Tomme de Montagne was a delicious cheese. Soft and mild flavoured, I really liked it.

I also got some Pommes Noisettes from the freezer, these are tastier than the potato pots we get from Tesco. The last time Lidl did a French week, they did some Pommes Rissolées, however this time these were absent from the promotion.

I got a few other things as well and we have had some nice meals with the different things I bought.

There isn’t a barcode…

So I had popped out to Morrisons to get a couple of cucumbers for a picnic I was planning. However the two I bought from Morrisons were not very nice. They looked weird and didn’t feel right.

I think they had been frozen and then defrosted. As a result we had to put them in the food waste. It was challenging, via the Twitter, to get a refund, as they kept asking for a bar code, which didn’t exist.

I posted my complaint on the Twitter.

Morrisons did respond and asked for some information

Please can you DM me; the barcode of the item, your receipt, your More card number…

Well my response was a photograph of my receipt, my More card number and I said

No barcodes on cucumbers

Their response was

Hello James, I’m sorry to hear this. Please can you provide me with the product barcode so i can look into this for you

I said

They are loose vegetables so there isn’t a barcode on the cucumbers to provide.

As you can see from this photograph there are no barcodes on the cucumbers.

Their response was not to believe me, however I did get a refund.

On this occasion i have processed a refund for you. If this happens again please provide a photo of the product along with the bar code

There still isn’t a bar code though…

Now that’s a bargain….

I thought it was only the “other” supermarkets that gave us unbeatable bargains, but it looks like Marks and Spencer is getting in on the act!

As you can see, the juice is £1 or three for £3...

As you can see, the juice is £1.. each, or three for £3… all the juices on that shelf were £1.00.

The point of the bargain is?

Christmas Four Bird Roast

I usually write a blog post about our Christmas lunch, in the main when it comes to the following year I can remember what worked well and what was less of a success.

A few years ago I spent over a hundred pounds on a four bird roast from Marks and Spencers. It was nice, but was very much a turkey with a little bit of goose, duck and chicken.

The Sainsbury’s version of the four bird roast is a goose stuffed with turkey, duck and guinea fowl. I will say that this is basically a stuffed goose; it’s 62% goose, 9% turkey and there is 8% duck and 8% guinea fowl. Like the Marks and Spencers’ roast it wasn’t cheap, but was half the price of the Marks and Spencers’ version.

This year I would have been tempted to get it again, however Sainsburys weren’t doing it this year. In the end I went with the Aldi Christmas Four Bird Roast again, which we had enjoyed last year.

Christmas Four Bird Roast

The Aldi four bird roast was a little skimpy on the goose and duck, but I did expect that for a ten pound roast. It was simple to cook, but I did let it rest for thirty minutes which seemed to help with carving and the meat was very tender and moist.

It was quite tasty, stuffing wasn’t anything to write home about, but I did supplement it with some homemade stuffing, as well as bacon wrapped sausages.

Overall a success and good value for a tenner.

Doughnut Bargain

I was pleasantly surprised to see that Jam Doughnuts were on special at a Sainsbury Local.

Doughnut Bargain

They were 33p each or two for £1.20…

Doughnut Bargain

Bargain!