The HEINZ Weight Watchers SWIZZ

HEINZ Beef in Peppercorn Sauce Packaging

So, picture the scene;  you’ve been up since 6am, you’ve suffered the dreary commute into work, you’ve slaved away all morning without stop, and you’re looking forward to sitting down for five minutes peace with a nice bite to eat.  You’ve brought along a HEINZ beef in peppercorn sauce ready-meal, and it sounds delicious.  A nice hot meal cures all evils, doesn’t it? You’ll wolf it down, have a nice cup of tea, and be fighting-fit for the afternoon session.

You pick up your ready-meal, ready to go in the microwave, and look at the front:

Packaging Description

mmmmmm, yes I most certainly will enjoy!  Lovely!

Imagine your disappointment, then, when you find that your piping hot meal is rather less than as described? “Beef in Peppercorn Sauce”, it said. “…with potatoes and a mix of sweetcorn and peppers”.  So, in my mind, I am expecting the following:

Beef in the majority, then slightly less Peppercorn Sauce, then slightly less potatoes, and then finally sweetcorn and peppers in the minority.  

Is this an unfair expectation? A presumption? I think not! That’s how I rationalise their description in my mind, and I’m sure it’s how you do it too.  But you sit down with their meal and find that actually, you’ve just eaten a potato & vegetable dinner with peppercorn sauce.  Was there even any beef at all? If there was, it was lost in the melee of potato and vegetables!

This, is what my Grandfather would have called, a “swizz“.  And there’s nothing quite like a lunch-time swizz to darken your mood for the rest of the day; a plight to which I’m sure most people can relate.  Ever opened up a packet of crisps only to find 7 crisps inside and the majority of the packet a wide open space? That’s what we’re talking about here.  A swizz!

So, let’s get to the bottom of this then shall we? Exactly how much beef is in a “Beef in Peppercorn Sauce” ready meal from HEINZ? I happened to have another of these meals in the freezer at home so I decided to find out.  Here’s what I did:

First, let’s take a look at the opened meal:

Suspicious meal

It looks rather delicious I’m sure you’ll agree.  But suspicious as well! Where is all the beef? I think I can just about see one lonely piece sticking out at the bottom right corner there.  But that’s it.  No more beef to be seen anywhere.  Well… perhaps all the beef is on the bottom?

Alright then, so let’s microwave it and separate everything out:





Separated PotatoesSo, here’s the separated out potatoes.  That’s quite a lot!

Since most of them were on the top I managed to separate them out quite cleanly.  There were a couple at the bottom that have a little bit of sauce on them, but small enough to be negligible.   I weighed this little lot in at 125 grams.





Sweetcorn & Peppers

Separated VegetablesNext up we have the sweetcorn & peppers.  These were very easy to separate as they were in a completely separated compartment of their own.  This little lot weighed in at 100 grams.







Peppercorn Sauce

Separated Peppercorn Sauce

Separating the peppercorn sauce was a little bit more tricky, mainly because of the beef – we’ll get onto that in just a moment.  The Peppercorn sauce consists of the creamy sauce itself, a couple of mushroom slices, and some other bits and pieces that I wasn’t able to make out, but which were certainly not beef.  I did a pretty good job of separating the sauce from the rest of the meal, and I got the vast majority of it out.  This lot weighed in at 135 grams.




The Beef!

The separated beef... what little there is of it!Finally, we get onto the beef! The beef was the most difficult of all to separate, mainly because there was hardly any of it to fish out! After I did get it all out, a lot of it had a significant amount of sauce on it and I felt that this would manifest itself as an unacceptable error in the weight measurement.  So, what to do? Well – quite simple really! We weigh it as it is with all the sauce still on it, then we wash it and weight it again.  All the sauce will have been washed away and we’ll be left with the beef itself.  The second measurement is the amount of actual beef in the ready-meal, and this measurement subtracted from the first gives us the amount of sauce that was washed off, which we can add to the peppercorn sauce total. I already accounted for this in my quoted peppercorn sauce measurement so the 135 grams quoted previously is the total amount of peppercorn sauce in the meal.
How much beef is there? A measly 25 grams!!!


So how does all this work out in terms of percentages? Well, we have:

  • 25 grams of beef
  • 135 grams of peppercorn sauce
  • 125 grams of potatoes
  • 100 grams of vegetables (sweetcorn & peppers)

That little lot all told gives us 385 grams worth of meal.  So the percentages, broken down and listed in descending order, are:

  • Peppercorn Sauce 35%
  • Potatoes 32.5%
  • Vegetables 26%
  • Beef 6.5%

So, by my reckoning, the meal should actually be titled:

Creamy Peppercorn Sauce and Potato Chunks.
…with sweetcorn and peppers and small traces of beef.

So thank you for that HEINZ.  I’m fortunate enough that I don’t need to lose any weight, but if I ever do your weight-watcher meals will be just the ticket! Diet by lack of content – fantastic idea!

In closing, I think I should be fair to HEINZ and admit that the meal was actually rather tasty – I enjoyed it! All they need to do is add a lot more beef in it, or otherwise change its title. By the way, I love the “even more” quote underneath the package title! Even more what? More potato? More sauce? More vegetables? Surely not more beef?!



2012 Formula 1 Season Begins! Good Luck Lewis!

Lewis Hamilton

The 2012 Formula 1 season has officially started! I for one will be wishing Lewis Hamilton the very best of luck this year; he had his fair share of bad luck last year that’s for sure.

I am also willing to put my money where my mouth is (as little as I can afford, anyway) and take from my wallet a fiver that says Lewis will finish the championship ahead of Jenson this year!

If anyone out there is foolish enough to take my bet, please leave a note in the comments!




PS: I don’t have anything against Jenson Button – I support him in F1 as well.  I just think Lewis has an edge over him in terms of racing ability 🙂

Jenson & Lewis



3.14159265 – Happy Pi Day!

Happy Pi Day!!!

Pi Pie ready for baking

Pi Day is traditionally held on 14th March to celebrate the irrational number π – 3.14159265.  π is the ratio between the circumference : diameter of a circle and cannot be expressed as an exact fraction.  It is also a transcendental number.  I have often thought long and hard about these kinds of numbers and they fascinate me.  It is truly amazing that no matter how accurately you try to express a number like π, it can always be expressed to an even greater accuracy again.  It makes you wonder… what is the smallest fraction possible in nature? Surely there must be one? Yet π can be calculated to an indefinite decimal representation, it would seem.  This means that in nature there can never be a “perfect” circle.

A friend of mine, Emma Constantine, helped me celebrate Pi Day by baking this gorgeous Raspberry Pi Pie.  And very tasty it was too!

It will now be my turn to reciprocate on 22nd July, which is the day us number geeks get to celebrate Pi Approximation Day.  22/7 is a commonly used approximation for π in mathematics.

Is Pi Approximation Day in your geek calendar?!


Lying – Sam Harris

I’ve just read Sam Harris’ short book on ‘lying’.

I’m going through a bit of a rough time in my life at the moment, which has necessitated a kind of self-personality reboot. I’ve been forced to take a long, hard, honest look at myself in the mirror and make some real life changes.  I’ve discovered who I really am, and although there are a lot of things about me that I really like, I need to make some significant changes if I’m going to become the person I actually want to be.
In his book, Sam Harris proposes that all forms of lying, even the little white lies, are dangerous, damaging, and promote ill-fated poor relationships with other people.  I think he’s right and, on reflection, it is the very act of ‘lying’ that caused my life to self destruct and triggered a domino of consequences, the biggest and most damaging of which was the breakdown of my marriage to the most important person in my life.  If only I had been completely honest, mainly with myself, then I could have prevented my self destruction and my marriage would never have been placed in jeopardy.

Sam Harris makes a lot of interesting observations in his book, which have caused me to take pause and consider the lies I tell on a daily basis.  Most people tell some lies each day, I think.  Some more than others.  But Sam puts forward a good case for rejecting the urge to lie (even the white lies you may tell to avoid embarrassment or offence) and to put your trust in the open and honest truth, instead.

How would your relationships change if you resolved never to lie again? What truths might suddenly come into view in your life? What kind of person would you become? And how might you change the people around you?

It is worth finding out.

– Sam Harris


Lying - by Sam Harris

Lying – by Sam Harris
 . goes live

My website has officially gone live!

It was a right pain in the backside converting from a locally hosted site to a server hosted one.  I wanted to be able to just copy all my local files over to the server and job done, but that so wasn’t the case.  Eventually I discovered the export and import tools, but even they were far from fool-proof.  Lots of things were still not working even after I’d imported my local site content and copied the modified child theme across.  That part of wordpress sucks.  But, it’s up now and the site is mostly working! I have noticed a few more niggly things that I want to change though, so I’ll have to delve back into the php code another time to change those.

Now to start adding my old content back…