Two and a Half Cheers for Tesco Free From

Have you spotted the gluten free ready meals from Tesco yet?

We came across them almost by accident; I don’t usually go down that aisle in the store, because I don’t usually buy ready meals (too expensive to feed five of us on ready meals), and even if I did, I wouldn’t expect anything to be gluten free.

But I found these when I placed an order online:

  • Free From three cheese fusilli pasta bake
  • Free From chicken and bacon pasta bake
  • Free From beef lasagne
  • Free From beef and dumplings
  • and Free From spaghetti bolognaise.

Did I miss something? Or did these just sneak in without much publicity? I even chatted to the Tesco Free From brand people at the recent Free From Foods Awards event, and they were all about the Free From dairy-free products, and didn’t even mention these…

No matter: we’ve tasted the first two on this list, and the beef lasagne is in the freezer (it was on special offer, yay!). And… she liked them!

I probably won’t buy them very often, because of the cost, and because I prefer to cook a meal we can all eat. However, it is great to know that they are there, and they’ll be a good fallback for the occasional evening. Or, of course, if one of her friends wants to invite her round to eat, and needs something easy to feed her.

So, two and a half cheers. Not three, because it seems to me that Tesco is struggling with communications. Not only was I not aware of these… why not, Tesco? You know that I buy Free From goods; you have my email address; you print out coupons for me when I go to the store. Where’s the message? A mailshot to all of those of us who buy free from products would be easy enough, surely.

But also: when I visited our local store this week, there was a mysterious Tesco sign up on the Free From shelves saying ‘Visit our Bakery for more Free From products’.

There’s nothing like the hint of new products to get me excited, so I trotted over to Bakery to ask them about it. Naturally enough, they said ‘no, we don’t do Free From in Bakery’. And customer services didn’t know anything about it; and nor did the deputy manager. ‘Come back next time’ they said ‘we’ll find out’.

So I went back (sign still there) and asked again. Still, nobody knew anything about it. ‘It must have been meant for a bigger store’, they said. But SOMEONE put the sign there; someone is planning Free From products in the Bakery aisle. Why don’t the brand people tell the stores?

Anyone know anything about these mystery products? And… if you’ve tried the Tesco Free From ready meals, let us know what you think!

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Lucy

Lucy is the mother of a coeliac, and has been managing a gluten free diet for her daughter for 20 years - though, to be fair, she does do most of it herself now...

9 thoughts on “Two and a Half Cheers for Tesco Free From”

  1. Yes, the Tesco chilled meals are good, aren’t they – we reviewed them a few weeks ago – see http://www.freefromfoodsmatter.com/new_freefrom_products/tesco-chilled-range-05.12.html

    The problem, as I understand it, is one of distribution their end. I suspect that because they are going into the ‘chilled’ units rather than the ‘freefrom’ section (and the chilled people don’t really know why they are having this ‘freefrom’ stuff foisted on them) they are having some difficulty in getting the meals into the right bits of the right stores. I know that they are currently holding back on doing some promotion with us until the distribution is sorted out which is why, no doubt, they have not been shouting about them….

  2. That makes sense – perhaps there’ll be some publicity later. I hope they don’t decide that because people aren’t buying them (because they don’t know abou them) that there’s no demand…

    I must have missed your review earlier; I’d have gone out to seek them, rather than just come across them, if I’d realised they were out there!

  3. I’d heard about the meals through Coeliac UK facebook but from as far as I know they were stumbled upon by accident. There doesn’t seem to have been any big promotion about them.

    Wonder what the deal is with the free from bakery stuff – let us know if you find out. Although, I’m a little confused how they could do GF from their bakeries – surly cross contamination would be a big issue!?

  4. Hi Katie – I agree absolutely about the contamination issue! I did talk to customer services and bakery about just that, but since they didn’t have any GF in Bakery anyway, there wasn’t anywhere to go with that question.

  5. None of our local Tescos (including two Tesco Extras) rarely have a range of gluten free chilled or frozen products. If they do have any, they are shoved away in a corner with no obvious signage. When we do find any they are very limited by choice. Still prefer to go to Sainsbury’s, who are much better (if still limited but less so than Tesco).

  6. i’d read about these in Coeliac uk facebook, so i put a question on Tesco FB asking where they were stocking these meals. They’ve been very good replying so then i went shopping. very tasty meals and it’s great to have a choice. the more people that contact Tesco and other big stores then the more notice they may take of the need for good GF food and choice.

  7. The 3 cheese fusilli bake is absolutely lovely and did not make me feel I was eating some processed, stodgy meal. Could not tell the difference between this and wheat pasta…based on this, am going to go on and test the others…agree with other posters, didn’t even know these were being stocked until I accidently stumbled across them whilst looking for something else.

  8. Hi Josie

    I’m glad you liked it! They’ve disappeared again from my local Tesco – I’m going to try a bigger store, to see if they’re still there. Hope you find some more…

  9. Hi Lucy

    The store I bought from was one of the larger stores and they definitely don’t stock them in the smaller store in my local town. Good luck to you too in your search…

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