Laura's Idea: What's good for vegans?

My Vegan MoFoing hit a bit of a bump in the road last week after I got sick. Properly, unceremoniously, embarrassingly sick. Not leaving the house sick. Saying farewell to my dignity sick. Lost my appetite sick. But I'd been booked in to work for two night last week and couldn't afford to cancel the jobs. I felt so feeble, I couldn't cook, but I needed to eat - what to do? I did something I rarely do - I ended up living off readymade food.

Laura's Idea is one of a very few companies that I regularly see offering readymade vegan food in train stations, health food stores, and other places where people who find themselves suddenly hungry and with no means of making food have to pay over the odds to buy a flaccid sandwich. (The only other I can think of is Hoxton Beach, whose wraps I really like, but I'm too tight to pay £5 per go.)

If you're out and you find yourself heading towards hangry and needing something you can stick in your bag and eat on the Tube, or you've left your left your lunch on the counter at home, then hopefully you'll be able to pick up something from Laura's Idea.

I've not always been a massive fan of Laura's Idea. After stumbling on the company's food at a branch of Whole Foods a few years ago, I got excited at the vegan possibilities, only to purchase a rice croquette and, rather than the onigiri loveliness I was hoping for, found myself with a lump of flavourless rice. A foray into spinach pancake-dom was similarly disappointing and a bit flavourless.

I pretty much wasn't tempted to buy any other Laura's Idea products since those first early experiments, until recently spotting a vegan calzone at my local health food shop and being powerless not to spend £3 on it.

I'm not mad keen on they way some Laura's Idea products are mummified in clingfilm, but if you get past the see-through sarcophagus, the calzone inside is happily rather good. As well as the packaging, if I were being a goon, I might say that it's not calzone really, it's a filled pancake. Still, I'll let them off because it's a pancake filled with loveliness. (Loveliness looks a lot like tofu, vegetables, and a marinara-type sauce.)

I think the pancake might be a bit on the chewy side eaten cold from the packet, so I gave it a spell in the oven and it was a solid, respectable lunch. (It looks a bit of a spartan meal there, doesn't it? By the time I'd waited for it to warm through, I was so hungry I could lift an arm to make a side salad or some extra veggies. It was all I could do not to swallow the whole thing down in one go.)

Inspired by the quality calzone, I invested in another bit of Laura's Idea scran: a pot of raw vegan cacao delight.

Go Laura's! This one's pretty good too. Normally this is the sort of thing that I'd shy away from - with a raw avocado based mousse with cacao instead of chocolate. It all seems a bit worthy to be tasty, no? Well, no. It was creamy, smooth, and had a coconutty protein ball, which was an unexpected treat - like when you used to buy Screwball ice creams and find the bubblegum ball at the bottom. Unlike the more reasonably priced calzone, the raw delight is about £4, so a bit dear for the student budget.

Having hit on two rather lovely vegan products, when the lurgy struck recently, I turned once more to Laura's Idea to get me through - this time the Mexican pancake. It's the same pancake you get in the calzone, but this time filled with rice, beans, and veggies, all for a not-outrageous £3. The spicing was gentle - it won't blow your head off - but it's not short of flavour.  In my weakened state, I ended up eating the pancake several times, both hot and cold and hot is better.

While I still prefer making food to buying it readymade, there are times when you're glad to have some good readymade bits at your disposal - this was definitely one of them. Not everything I've tried from Laura's Idea I've loved, but everything I've eaten recently I'd definitely eat again. Next time I see something new and vegan from Laura's Idea, sick or not, I'll be giving it go.

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  1. I've never even heard of Laura's Idea, but I'll keep them in mind now if I'm ever caught without my snacks on the go. That calzone really does look like it's been giving the completely wrong name - just call it a pancake! Hope you're feeling better now.

  2. I prefer to cook my own meals too but unfortunately occasionally life gets too much and it is good to have a contingency plan - I like the sound of the calzones and hope you are feeling better now

  3. I'd bought some Laura's Idea things from Unicorn in Manchester years ago and like you not been that impressed although I did like their rice pudding. However I tried the calzone a few weeks ago and really enjoyed it and I had it cold too. Hope you're feeling better.

  4. Maybe Laura has learned a thing or two about vegan cooking since you first tried her products, and they are truly better than they used to be. Another point on the upside, the food didn't make you heave while you were feeling so sick. Hope you feel better.

  5. I've been in the same must-eat-ready-made-food-or-nothing boat before. So awesome you found something good at a reasonable price. Hope you're all better now. :-)

  6. I'm sorry to hear you've been ill too. It's horrible! I hope you're 100% now and am glad you could find some ready made meals to help you through the sickness period. I've had hit and miss experiences with Laura's Idea too but will have to try your winners here now.

  7. I have not heard of them, so its an interesting read, but I am always nervous about stuff like this on the go. For example I have tried some of Holland and Barrets Veg out stuff ie porkless pies and sausage roll and they have not fared well either some frankly yuk. I do hope your feeling much better, the weather is getting colded and the germs are about, I have been managing to keep it abay but it is in my throat. Stay warm too


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