Tag Archives: tesco

#StokesCroft #Tesco and #Riots

I live in a “Tesco town”, apparently. There are certainly a lot of Tesco stores around here.

I’ve not really felt bothered to give my opinion on the new Tesco Express in Stokes Croft before. For one reason, it’s several miles away from me. What do I care if they build 20 Tesco stores down there? This week though, I did a bit of reading up on the subject, after it was mentioned in Venue Magazine. Continue reading #StokesCroft #Tesco and #Riots

Local Independent Businesses

It’s Easter Sunday (or “Easter Day” as the news have now started calling it), so this is the perfect time for me to rant about something that irritates me.

Today, in England, “larger” shops are not allowed to open. Small shops can open like Tesco Express, Sainsbury’s Local, and anything else which is less than 280 square metres in size. What a ridiculous rule that is.

Now I know it’s closed because it’s a religious day (for Christians), but as an atheist, why can’t I nip down to B&Q to get some nails, so I can finish a DIY job I’m doing in the garden? Continue reading Local Independent Businesses

Tesco – A Warning

Earlier this week I bought something in Tesco. It had one price on the shelf, and a different one when I got to the checkout. I was in a rush so didn’t bother to query this.

Today I bought a bottle of hair conditioner. £4.48 on the shelf, and when I got to the (self-service) till, it showed £4.58.
I asked the self-service supervisor person, and she told me that due to the VAT increase, and the size of shop, the prices on the shelf might be the pre-VAT-rise price, instead of the post-vat-rise price that the till shows.
She added that if I wanted, I could check this with customer service, but they had a big disclaimer somewhere, so it was all above board, and it’s unlikely I’d get it for the shelf price.

Given everyone knew the VAT was going up, I don’t think this is good enough. The size of the shop is immaterial. Bigger shops have bigger budgets and more staff.

A part of me wonders if this isn’t just a clever way of looking like your prices haven’t gone up, while still putting them up. Most people know the price of milk, but if you buy 20 items, you’re less likely to notice if it comes out £1.50 more.

Is this even legal?
Displaying one price and charging another?

Either way, I’m going to be more vigilant with this. Maybe you should be too.

Unexpected item in the bagging area

What is wrong with people?
Not a week goes by, without someone moaning to me about the “unexpected item” error you get in self-service checkouts at the supermarket.
If you’re getting it, it is YOUR fault.

Seemingly it’s a problem we’re all having, all the time.
Well I’m not.
I’ve never thought of myself as a genius, but as I’m seemingly the only person in the world who can figure out how to use these machines, I thought I’d write a post explaining this, why it occurs, and how to resolve it.

I’ve had no training in building these machines, but from what I can see, there’s two things going on.
1. You scan.
2. You put it in the “bagging area”.
First the machine scans a barcode, then it expects you to put something in the bagging area.
I’m pretty sure it checks the weight of the bagging area, to make sure you haven’t bought 12 toilet rolls, and scanned them through as a Snickers bar.

It will report “unexpected item” if you just chuck something in the bagging area, because you haven’t scanned it.
That’s your fault.

So scan it, then put it in the bagging area. Simple.
You’ve scanned it, it’s waiting for you to put it in the bagging area.

Where a few people get confused is where they use their own bags.
Given it measures the weight, you already know you can’t just put your bag in the bagging area.
You know this doesn’t work – don’t fight it.
Don’t blame the machine.
If you put a bag in the bagging area without scanning anything, it’ll complain. YOU are using the machine incorrectly.

If you’ve been struggling with this, the solution is so simple you will kick yourself.
For this example, I’ll be buying a 2pt bottle of milk.
You scan the milk, then put it in your own bag, then put the bag (now containing milk) in the bagging area.
It weighs it, and it is approximately the weight it was expecting.
You do this for each new bag, as you add them.

If that doesn’t work for you, then you’re still doing something wrong. I haven’t had an argument with the machine about unexpected items in months.
The only argument I have is when you have 4-5 bags, you’re attempting to put money away and pick them up, and as you’re a tiny few seconds slower, it tells you “please take your items” as if you’ve forgotten.
I’ve got a simple solution to that too – swear at it. Profusely.

Swedish meatballs, new potatoes, gravy

…and I even threw some green beans in for some ‘vegetable’ aspect.

Tonight I was struggling to decide what to cook. I finally settled on Swedish-style meatballs, purchased yesterday in Tesco.
Despite Swedish meatballs looking very interesting in an episode of Eurotrash I saw years ago, being made by a half-naked Victoria Silvstedt, I had only first tried Swedish meatballs a few months back in the restaurant section of my local Ikea.
They came with something brown I assumed was gravy, and I was offered cranberry sauce which I foolishly took and wished I hadn’t.

Recreating this at home seemed like it might not be too difficult, I thought optimistically.
However while shopping in Tesco yesterday afternoon I realised I didn’t actually know what went into Swedish meatballs, except for meat of some kind. While browsing the fresh meat aisle, I spotted some Swedish-style meatballs already prepared. Convenient or what?

So tonight – meatballs!
What do you have with meatballs? The ones in Ikea had come with potatoes, cranberry sauce and…some sort of Swedish form of gravy?
A quick look on Ikea’s website tells me it wasn’t gravy at all. Apparently what is sold in the restaurant is “traditional Swedish meatballs with cream sauce and lingonberry sauce”.
What the hell is a lingonberry?

Well, lingonberry jam, according to wikipedia:
“is served both as jam, with cereal or pancakes, and as a relish with meat courses such as Swedish meatballs, beef stew, liver dishes, and regionally even fried herring. It has also been used to sweeten the traditional oatmeal porridge. It is less commonly used as marmalade on toast and as a topping on vanilla ice cream”.
Talk about versatile! I can’t think of too many things you could have with sausages, fish, on toast, and with ice cream – and have them all still be edible.

Well that was out anyway.
I’ve got a friend coming round in an hour, and I’d quite like to finish eating before they get here, so I don’t really have time to go to Tescos and get lingonberry jam/sauce/juice/relish to go with them, so I decided that ordinary chicken Bisto would have to do.

New potatoes on, and the oven too. The oven took a surprisingly long time to heat up, but I’m not too fussed because new potatoes always seem to take longer than the 20mins I think they will, even if I start them off with boiling water instead of cold.

The meatballs don’t smell particularly appealing cold from the fridge, it has to be said.
15-20mins in the oven is apparently enough for these. Even starting them probably 10mins after, and putting them in for a full 20mins – the potatoes still didn’t seem quite done by the time the meatballs were.
I killed the oven and left my balls to keep warm (ok – I had to have one – I lasted this long), while I did the green beans.

Eventually, all done..
I removed my balls from the oven (that’s the last one, I promise). The tray is a bit greasy and they’re not really smelling much nicer cooked – they don’t really smell much like I remember the ones in Ikea being like. More like ‘value’ sausages.
Still, as I’ve decided I’m not judging food entirely by smell anymore, I plated the meatballs, potatoes, and green beans, and added gravy.

From the first one, I can tell you Tescos pre-prepared meatballs taste absolutely nothing like what I ate in Ikea.
I don’t know if I left them in a bit long, but they looked a bit overcooked for one thing. Even allowing for that, the blackened outer coating wasn’t hiding much inner goodness either. They were a bit rubbish really. I’m not sure what the official definition of “Swedish-style” is, but clearly English supermarkets and Swedish furniture stores have different guidelines.
I only ate roughly half the packet, so I may attempt a second cooking of the rest, later in the week.

I guess as the Scandinavian flat-pack-masters sell them in their food section, I could buy some next time I’m looking for a stool the size of a bedside table and some unusual pot-plants. Definitely worth considering.

Pasta – Carbonara Tortelloni

Friday nights have traditionally (for a few years anyway) been where I’ve had no real evening meal.
I would come home, relax, watch tv, and eventually about 9.30ish get hungry enough to need food. I would then snack on toast, chocolate, biscuits, or sometimes just go to bed and skip dinner altogether.
This very evening for example I got home just before 6, had a twix ice cream, a cup of tea, and a large vanilla and chocolate cookie I got from the bakery this afternoon.

So tonight I thought I’d break that habit with the second new meal of the week for me.
I went to Tescos a couple of days ago and picked up what’s described as “Carbonara Tortelloni” or “pasta”.
The reason I went for this is because I never used to like Chicken Pies when I lived with my parents. Now I like them a lot.
I’ve tried pasta before and not liked it.
When I say this to people, they normally ask “how can you not like pasta?”. I don’t know.
I’ve tried noodles (excuse my terrible cooking/food knowledge if this doesn’t count as pasta) and hated them. Supernoodles they were.
So tonight, pasta.
It’s part of Tesco’s “italian” range and it looks nice enough in the packet.
It is apparently “italian egg pasta parcels filled with pancetta, smoked ham, ricotta and Edam cheeses”.
I like cheese, I like ham.. what’s to go wrong there?

So I got it out, and read the instructions (open packet corner, add 75ml of water, microwave for 1minute, then shake, microwave for 1 minute). It sounds easy enough.
After I’d struggled to find anything that could measure 75ml of water, and decided 80ml was “close e-f**king-nough” – I measured the water, opened the packet and….well I’ll be honest I thought it smelt quite disgusting.
I’m not letting that stop me though, so in the microwave it goes.
At the mid-cooking shake it smelt decidedly different. A bit like something I’ve smelt before. Smoky bacon crisps perhaps? I actually like them, so maybe it will taste like them too and I’ll have something else I can eat.

Cooking time over, removed, left to stand for 30 seconds or so, and I nervously put an egg pasta parcel into my mouth. Tastes…well..I don’t know really. Quite bland to be honest.
I force myself to try another and not mix “bland” with “don’t like”.
I’ve eaten 10 or so of them and they’re still a bit bland. Less bland than they started but still not particularly exciting.
Also they have cooled a lot, so I whack them back in the microwave for another 30 seconds.
Is pasta meant to be hot? I don’t know.
Surely not, if its only cooked for 2minutes?

I remove it from the microwave, and place another pasta parcel in my mouth.
Still quite bland.

So I try something that has worked for me in the past when I’ve not known how else to make things taste different, but have known I didn’t like them much as they were.
When I lived with my parents, I refused all sauces. I’d have burgers and chips without ketchup or any sauce.
At some point since moving out of parents’ aged ~18yrs old, I’ve gotten a likening for HP barbeque sauce. I generally put it on everything from Birds Eye “simply cod” fillets, to new potatoes, to chicken burgers.
Most everything except sausage sandwiches (where I prefer brown sauce) get HP barbequed to the max.

Tesco’s finest carbonara tortelloni – in barbeque sauce.
It doesn’t really work. Tastes of barbeque sauce if I put enough on – other than that, bit bland.
I eat another few (probably still less than 1/4 of the 300g packet) and stop because I don’t really feel that hungry anymore.
God knows how anyone is meant to eat all of this in one sitting. Maybe they’re not meant to have the twix, biscuits, cup of tea, etc..first?

I’ll likely try it again somewhen, but I might buy a pasta sauce to go on it. I’m putting that down as a general positive – I didn’t totally hate it – but it is just as boring as anything else I might have cooked tonight, as it was.