Hansells Pancakes in a Flash Dh10.25, Carrefour The supersonic jet, the television, the internet and Pancakes in a Flash. Can you spot the odd 20th century invention out? This half-filled plastic bottle of powdered pancake mix won't change the world but it might make breakfast less bothersome. You simply add water, shake the bottle, tip the mixture into the pan and cook until golden brown for sweet American-style pancakes. Genius.
Verdict: There are questions about its environmentally unsound use of packaging, but the pancakes are surprisingly good. Rio Mare salatuna maize recipe vegetables and tuna salad Dh11.95, Waitrose The fact that salatuna resembles a tin of cat food will hardly fill you with inspiration, and neither will the browbeaten melange of discoloured sweetcorn and assorted vegetables under the foil lid. The tuna can be found at the bottom of the tin, cowering under the vegetables as though it's ashamed to face the world under these circumstances - all mashed up as if it had been chewed a bit then spat out by a picky cat. If you're an explorer lost in the as-yet-undiscovered wilds of Papua New Guinea, then a tin of Salatuna might be worth a try. Otherwise, don't go there.
Verdict: You'll be surprised how quickly your lunch can turn from Rio Mare to nightmare. 24 Letter Mantra Veg Rice Organic Ready Meal, Bombay pilaf Dh14.50, Organic Foods & Cafe This is apparently one of "the first-ever organic, shelf stable, ready-to-eat Indian meals" in the world. It takes two minutes to cook in the microwave, but when it eventually emerges, the rice tumbles out of the packet in a stodgy avalanche of congealed clumps. It's comprised of sweaty onion pieces, minute chickpeas, unrecognisable tomato fragments and a variety of spices, which when ingloriously tossed together might only engender a four-letter mantra from you.
Verdict: Proof that the words "organic" and "ready meal" go together like "Peter Andre" and "comeback". Freshshot ready-to-squeeze garlic Dh12.45, Carrefour There's a pre-crushed garlic product by The English Provender Co called Very Lazy Garlic, so named because you merely spoon the garlic mush from the screw-cap jar into the pan and it's ready to cook. But if that's lazy then Freshshot garlic is positively bone idle. This garlic is "ready to squeeze" from a plastic bottle. Unsurprisingly, it smells like it has passed through several hundred thousand miles of plastic piping, and it tastes no better than it smells.
Verdict: Any self-respecting chef who comes within two postal districts of this stuff should be freshly shot. Kitchen Guru Spicy Dal with Coriander Dh16.50, Spinneys With a preparation and cooking time of 77 minutes, this is hardly instant food. But it is convenient, especially if you've never cooked dal before. This handy kit has the pulses and four separate spices to get you started, not to mention a set of easy-to-follow instructions. You have to add your own coriander, chillies and garlic, but that's the fun part.
Verdict: A great halfway house between convenience and cooking from scratch. Green's Cheesecake Dh9.74, Carrefour Can something this effortless be any good? It depends on whether you're a cheesecake connoisseur or not. Amateurs looking for a hurriedly knocked together dessert (20 mins to prepare, 45 mins to set) will be fairly satisfied, but the overly crumbly biscuit base and weedy topping will have purists more than a little cheesed off.
Verdict: An instant dessert that proves you can't always have your cheesecake and eat it.