Meals on wheels: Citizen taste test reveals the truth

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Housebound pensioners in Milton Keynes are paying more for meals on wheels of “mediocre” quality than almost everywhere else in the country.

As the city’s £5.30 hot dinners were revealed to be the second most expensive in the UK, the Citizen conducted its own taste test.

The verdict from editor Olga Norford on the roast beef meal sampled on Wednesday was “edible but mediocre.”

The beef was passable, the frozen veg watery, the Yorkshire pudding soggy and the roast potatoes were “simply dreadful,” she said.

The pudding – lemon sponge – tasted “synthetic and not very lemony” but the custard was good.

“I can understand that many people do not have an alternative and a hot lunch brought to their door is better than no lunch. But for £5.30, even taking into account the delivery costs, it should be possible to make the food more appetising,” said Olga.

See our website for a video of the full taste test.

The previous day’s offering of curry, mashed potato, peas, corn and rice, was summed up as a “bizarre combination.”

The meals on wheels service is only partially subsidised by the council and provided through contractor Apetito, which also owns Wiltshire Farm Foods.

The latter delivers frozen meals at substanially cheaper prices – £3,40 in the case of our roast beef dinner – for clients to heat up themselves. This week the company confirmed Wiltshire and Apetito dishes were the same food, cooked in the same place, though Wiltshire offered more choice.

Labour politicians are now asking why the service is so expensive and demanding the quality be improved.

“Even when money is tight, we should be doing all we can to help vulnerable residents,” said parliamentary spokesman Andrew Pakes,