Sinéad, Ellen, Laoise and Nathan discuss their favourite meal deals
Tesco Meal Deal
Every time I pay more than €4 for a sandwich or salad, I am starkly reminded that the only good deal out there is the Tesco lunch deal. The supermarkets and the little Tesco Express shops are quite literally everywhere so it is so easy to pick it up. You could be a student on a budget, an office worker picking up something quick for lunch, anyone really.
For a simple €3.99 you can get three courses! Well, three different things. The wraps are always more appealing to me than the sandwiches. They may look small, but they pack flavour. As for the second piece, I don’t know if anyone ever chooses a piece of fruit over crisps or a chocolate bar, but I thank Tesco for the option all the same. Maybe one day I’ll make the perfectly healthy choice. In fairness, I normally get an innocent fruit juice as my third option, so it balances out. That is also a key point, get an innocent juice worth €2.12 as part of the deal and you’re saving a fortune. For me, it is definitely the best deal out there for value and for the variety of options.
Dominos Meal Deal
Now that I live out of home, I bulk buy like a trucker delivering to Musgraves and I freeze everything I touch. The only meal deal I have any relationship with is one from my past: the ‘Mega Deal’, from Dominos.
Growing up, my Mam had the kind of food rules that you realise, the second you develop critical thinking, are nutritionally sub par. We ate KoKa noodles and boxes of mini cupcakes excessively, but were never allowed takeaways.
The first time I tried Dominos, I was 12 years old and scraped all of the cheese off my slice of pizza with a fork whilst my classmates watched in horror. I honestly think I might have thought that the coating of dairy was some form of icing, as icing was all I knew. Despite this, it was love at first bite.
I immediately knew that I would need more, or I would have to emancipate myself. The next week, I pulled a ferris bueller style sickie-on a day I knew that my Mam would be in work and my sisters in school-and ordered the mega deal with my Christmas savings.
Once finished, I destroyed the evidence at the bottom of our black bin. Even now, when I think of the mega deal, I think of rebellion.
The SU Meal Deal
A very quick disclaimer preludes this Staff Recommends. I am not going to have the same quality of recommendations as my fellow writers. Not only am I vegan, but I’m a picky vegan at that - every convenient food distributor’s worst nightmare.
Being completely honest, I’m not awkward about being vegan as much as I was at the start. I really couldn't care less, and after working in the service industry for three years, you learn that most people are difficult with their dietary requirements. I write this recommendation, hoping it’ll reach some socially awkward, self-conscious vegan who cringes every-time they ask, “Can the feta wrap come without feta?”, or “Does the carrot soup have a meat-stock?”.
Obviously, if you’re reading this, you’ll be familiar with the UCD deli pre-made foods from the SU. My favourite wrap is the falafel beetroot wrap. Don’t let the bright purple colour turn you off. Team that puppy with Manhattan popcorn, and drink of choice, you’ve got yourself a completely vegan friendly, socially acceptable, better-than-thou meal deal.
Of course, if you are really serious about the whole world dying, you’d stop wasting plastic and use up your leftovers. Whatever sits well with you, I suppose.
Chinese Takeaway Meal Deal
When one considers the purpose of the meal deal, it is usually to get the cheapest food available while out and about on a busy day. For your humble servant, however, it is to get the greasiest food available while still maintaining an illusion of haute cuisine.
For that reason, I cannot recommend “Meal A” highly enough - or whatever equivalent your local chinese takeaway serves. Any chicken or beef dish, rice or chips, a starter, and, in especially generous joints, a can of coke. It’s not authentic, it’s certainly not healthy, but it is multiple courses and delicious.
Consider this: you have been drinking with your housemates, or a friend from one other household, or all your buddies over Zoom, and you now need dinner. You are too drunk to cook it yourself. Along comes Meal A, straight to your door, with a spring roll starter to make you feel fancy, followed by far more chicken in hot garlic sauce than a single person should eat. Then, in the morning as you nurse your hangover you remember it! The other half of the chinese is waiting in the fridge to be microwaved and eaten. Perfect takeaway and the breakfast of champions for €12, get it you.