Last year, I learned how to make the perfect scrambled eggs – and have polished my method down to a few minutes. I put a pan on the heat and get the butter melting; whisk the eggs in a bowl; add salt and pepper (no milk!); tip into the lovely hot pan; cook for 30 seconds; turn off the heat while I butter my toast, then serve. Easy. I can go from craving scrambled eggs to eating them in 10 minutes.
So you can imagine that I am dubious about Iceland’s new ready-made scrambled egg in microwavable pouches.
Not only am I concerned about how they might taste, and how much extra they cost, I’m also not sure how much time they’re really going to save. (Although I am particularly speedy when it comes to scrambling: a colleague tells me her perfect eggs take around 20 minutes to cook over a low heat.)
But James Taylor from Scope tells me: “The product will be a real help for many disabled people. Being unable to make something as simple as scrambled eggs, because of an impairment, can have a significant impact on daily life.”
Iceland decided to launch the ready-made breakfast after research for the supermarket revealed that office workers and students don’t have the equipment or skills to prepare the dish themselves. In its survey of 1,000 people, 46% of workers said they didn’t have the facilities to cook at work and 13% of students said they didn’t know how boil an egg, let alone scramble one.
So are these ready-made scrambled eggs worth eating? I put them head-to-head with my homemade variety.
Iceland’s ready-made scrambled eggs
The eggs come in a ready-to-microwave pouch that serves two people– each pouch contains four, free-range eggs and a “dash of milk and seasoning”.
Cost: £1.50 for a 250g pouch, so 75p for a single serving of eggs.
Time and effort: I have to squeeze the pack a bit before putting in the microwave to break up the eggs. The pouch goes in for 90 seconds, and I put the toast on at the same time. I follow instructions to leave the eggs to “rest for 30 seconds”, then empty half the packet onto my toast. Preparation time = about three minutes.
Cleaning up is a dream. I only have to wash up my plate and chuck the pouch in the bin – so all done in about 20 seconds.
Taste: The smell is great so I’m keen to tuck in, but I’m immediately struck by the odd texture. The eggs are quite light and fluffy, almost a mousse-like consistency, and completely different to my scramble. At the same time, a mouthful of eggs alone, without the toast, feels a bit dry and grainy.
The taste is... interesting. It’s not bad – they taste like scrambled eggs for sure, with a slight peppery seasoning `– but it’s also just not as good as home-cooked eggs. While I’m a fan of salt in my eggs, I was worried there might be too much in this ready-made version, but the seasoning feels just right. They have a creamier taste than I anticipate, although the aftertaste is a little burnt.
Effort: Very little, as you can imagine. I literally only have to toast the bread and put the pouch in the microwave. If you want to spend a bit more time on prep – or don’t have access to a microwave – there are also instructions for how to cook by boiling (odd) or frying them in a pan.
My homemade scrambled eggs:
Cost: £1.15 for a pack of six eggs, so roughly 38p for a single serving of two eggs. A small knob of butter and a dash of salt and pepper: let’s say 25p. So all in, around 65p max.
Time: Cracking and whisking the eggs in a bowl, then cooking them in a pan takes me about four minutes max. I then cook the eggs for 30 seconds.
Cleaning up – a plate, pan, bowl, wooden spoon, cutlery – takes me five minutes. Overall, then, the whole thing takes nine minutes: slightly longer (shock).
Taste: The texture of my eggs is completely different; they are a lot wetter than the ready-made ones. Obviously the seasoning (little salt, more pepper) is perfect for me, because I know how I like it. My scrambled eggs are buttery and smooth – probably more on the more sloppy side, but I prefer that consistency.
Effort: This is arguably a lot more effort considering you have to get the eggs, crack the eggs, beat the eggs, and cook the eggs before serving. But for me, it doesn’t feel a chore. Any meal you cook from scratch is going to take more time – but 10 minutes is still pretty damn good for delicious meal, don’t you think?
I’d still choose cooking my own eggs over the ready-made ones, mainly because I’m not a fan of the mousse-like texture of Iceland’s creation.
The time the pouch saved me wasn’t worth it for me in terms of taste. I prefer making homemade food and being able to add the ingredients I most enjoy, rather than eating from a packet. That being said, Iceland did say the launch was for “unequipped workers and hapless students”, neither of which categories I fall into.
One thing I did note: the pouch is for two people, but if you’re only ever cooking for one then you’ll either eat four eggs or end up chucking half in the bin.
Nice idea Iceland, but I’m not quite converted.