After MoFo last year, I discovered that my suspicion of readymade vegan food may have been misplaced - some of it actually tasted pretty good.
So, with my newfound lack of time due to crazy, crazy studying, I'm having to dig in to readymade stuff once again -- and, thanks to the uninspired nature of a lot of tinned foods, I reckon I can just about squeeze this into today's MoFo prompt of monochrome.
Being a student again has not only depleted my stocks of time, it's also siphoned off all my cash, resulting in me developing an eye for bargains at the supermarket. When Amy's soups were £1 at my local supermarket, about half the normal cost, I thought I'd try them out.
I make a lot of soup at home and there's always some spare in the freezer, but still, it's handy to have something on hand that you can just warm up in an emergency. I remember eating a lot of tinned lentil soup as a kid - maybe one of the few veggie meals that we actually did eat when I was little! - so I was looking forward to seeing if Amy's could drum up a Proustian soup moment.
Yet again, I'm kind of surprised by how decent this soup was. I stand corrected once more - readymade stuff can be good! I'd still say 99 percent of times making your own food is going to beat the pants off something in a tin, but that's not to say that it's not a decent standby.
Back to the soup - it was just the right side of thick (not so watery it's consomme, not so dense it's more a stew). Loaded with lentils and dotted with the odd carrot and potato for company, it was a good soup.
Buoyed by my Amy's experience, I thought I'd try another staple of veggie tinned meals, Stagg's Chilli. Another vegan student I know swears by it as a meal for those days when even reaching for a tin opener seems like an effort.
I can see her point - it's basically beans in tomato sauce, and if there's anything that's been keeping students alive for years, it's that.
But, unlike baked beans, which you can pick up for a few pence, Stagg's Vegetable Chilli comes with a price tag knocking on £2. So is it worth it?
In short, no. For not much more than £2, most students will be able to pick up a can or two of beans, chopped tomatoes, a potato and carrot, and scrounge up some spices from the halls' kitchen, and recreate something similar. And, unlike with a tin of Stagg's, you'd probably have enough left over for a meal the next day.
Oh, and it doesn't taste of much either. The overwhelming taste is tomato paste - none of the spices alleged on the label - and the texture of the sauce is thick and cloying.
So, the verdict from my taste test of vegan student food: give the Stagg's a pass, buy the Amy's if it's on offer, but in general, if it's in a tin, you're much better off cooking it yourself.