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As most of you will already know I live with Dave, my husband, and my mother who is 78 and has lost almost all of her short term memory. Mom lives on the ground floor of the house which is effectively a self contained flat and Dave and I have the top two floors. Since dad died last year mom has deteriorated further and needs me around to keep her company and help her remember things as much as possible. She can't walk more than a few yards and it hurts her to even stand for very long as her circulation is also very poor due to a leaky heart valve which she is too frail for them to be able to operate and replace. She had also got to the point where she wasn't eating properly so I decided to take over cooking her lunch to make sure that she ate.
So you get the picture - my day is taken up with trying to keep the house and garden in order, cooking lunch, doing our company accounts and admin, trying to earn a bit of extra cash on EBay (Carer's Allowance is only £46.95 per week) and keeping mom company watching TV.
Enter Wiltshire farm Foods!
I had seen these people advertised on TV with delicious food and helpful delivery men and thought - yeah right! I then saw an advert in our local paper and I thought I would at least take a look at the website as it may just be something that would help me.
The address is http://www.wiltshirefarmfoods.com/new/index.asp
As soon as I saw the site I was very impressed. It is clear and very easy to understand, yet looks smart and professional too.
There are over 175 meals which are split into ranges as follows:- Traditional Gourmet A La Carte Light Bites Cold Desserts Hot Desserts Pastries Diabetic Desserts
You can also access the various meals by 'range' - beef, pork, chicken, vegetarian etc.
Each meal is also labelled with a variety of icons with descriptions as follows:- Suitable for normal diets Suitable for diabetic diets Suitable for lower fat diets Suitable for reducing diets Suitable for moderate salt diets Suitable for gluten free diets Suitable for vegetarian diets The meals can also be accessed on the web site by diet and there is a further page explaining exactly what is meant by each of these descriptions above.
For each meal there is a picture, a description of what is included, the dietary icons and the price. Incidentally the price is determined by your postcode which you enter on the site as there are Wiltshire Farm Foods have depots all over the country. The price difference is only a matter of pence as far as I can see, but this is because there is no delivery charge.
There is also a brochure available giving exactly the same information as the website so it's a matter of preference as to which you use.
I ordered a brochure from Wiltshire Farm Foods and it arrived within two days. I thought that a brochure would be easier to use for us as mom doesn't use computers!
The brochure itself is A4 in size and shows the same information as the web site. Each meal is pictured, described and showed with the relevant icons and the meals are split into the ranges as shown above - traditional, gourmet etc.
The pictures of the meals certainly make them all look VERY appetising, but at this point I was still a bit sceptical as I don't believe advertising until it has been proved to me!
Enclosed with the brochure is an order form incorporating a price list relevant to the address where the brochure has been delivered.
There are quotes from satisfied customers scattered throughout the brochure.
You can order in one of three ways - either by telephone, via the website or using the order form. I ordered via the website.
Incidentally on the back of the order form there are four different sets of seven day menus made up of 'normal' meals and desserts at £21.50 each, four made up of seven days of diabetic meals and desserts at £22 and four more of just seven days of main meals with no desserts for £16.80. I can see that this would be really useful to some people but we prefer to pick and choose our own favourites.
The order must be over £15 and, I said earlier, the delivery is free.
For our first order we decided to try 3 x Salmon and Broccoli Supreme at £2.40, 3 x Apricot and Vanilla Tarte at £1.40, 2 x Beef and Stout Pie at £2.60 and 2 x Caramel Sundae at £0.70. Incidentally when I opened the brochure the first thing I saw was the Apricot and Vanilla Tarte which looked stunning!
I placed the order over the weekend and was notified by e mail on Monday that my delivery day would be Thursday. As this was ideal for me I did not need to change this although I could have got in touch and changed it to a more convenient date had I needed to.
The food arrived as arranged at about 11.30 on Thursday morning.
The delivery man was very friendly and helpful. He gave me another order form and asked where he should put the food. Presumably, if the customer is old or infirm, they put the food directly in the kitchen or even the freezer.
As I am OK I took the parcel from him at the door and took it directly into the kitchen to unpack. The food arrives frozen in plastic trays and obviously needs to be put straight into the freezer as it is all cooked from frozen.
I have had to put delivery time 1-2 weeks in the boxes below this review even though the delivery is actually within a few days.
I am certainly not going to try and list all the meals here or this review will be a mile long! I thought I would just try and give you an idea of the various sorts of things that they provide.
You can get soups, all sorts of meat, all sorts of fish, a wide range of vegetarian meals, breakfasts, omelettes, pies, quiches, curries, pastas, sponges, flans, ice creams, sundaes, rice puddings, mousse and trifles. Examples of the gourmet main courses are Roast Duck Breast in Brandy Sauce for £4.70 (which is the highest priced meal), Venison in Rich Sauce also £4.70 and Beef in Stilton Sauce for £4.30.
As I have said the meals arrive frozen in plastic trays with separate compartments for the main part of the meal, meat, fish etc., the potatoes and the rest of the vegetables. Each of the meals is complete in its own right so you don't have to prepare extra vegetables to go with it.
When the first delivery arrived I thought that the meals looked a bit small in the trays. There would be enough for mom and maybe me but not enough for Dave.
The plastic trays are covered by a sheet of plastic which remains in place whilst the food is cooked. On this sheet of plastic is a label saying what the meal contains, the nutritional value - calories, fat etc. - and the cooking instructions. We usually cook ours in the oven as we would have to cook them individually in the microwave and eat separately.
Each of the meals so far has taken 40 minutes at 140 degrees.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that the meals were bigger when put out onto the plate then they looked in the plastic trays.
The first meal we tried was the salmon and broccoli followed by the apricot and almond tarte. I had ordered three of each so that we could all try them and see what we thought of them. The answer was a unanimous 'stunning'. There was plenty to eat, even for Dave, and we all really enjoyed the whole meal. For four pounds per head for two courses you couldn't cook it yourself for that!
We have since tried all the different roast dinners for round about £1.70 per head and whilst these are nice there isn't really enough meat for Dave although there was plenty for both mom and me and of course I wouldn't bother cooking a roast dinner during the week just for the two of us and I certainly wouldn't be able to do it for £1.70 a head!
We have all tried the Sticky Toffee Pudding and the Lemon Sponge both of which are superb and mom and I have tried the diabetic rhubarb pie which was OK but nothing special.
We have been very impressed with Wiltshire Farm Foods and when I am trying to fit in jobs round the house as well as looking after mom it is great to just pop the trays in the oven and go back 40 minutes later for dinner!
I tend to use their meals once or twice each week and they really do help to keep my stress levels down!
As one of the comments in the brochure says - I can cook but I don't always feel like doing so!