As much as we love having a home cooked meal every night, with our busy work schedules it isn’t always possible. That where Dream Dinners comes in. This month we’ll be enjoying Italian pomodoro sliders, lemon chicken piccata with linguine, and carne asada tacos, among other things, all shopped for and prepared in less than an hour.
The Dream Dinners concept is an extension of the “Sunday cooking” idea – cook up large amounts of foods to be refrigerated or frozen for eating later. When it comes time to eat, heat it up on the stove or in the oven and a home cooked meal can be had on a weeknight after a long day of work. Dream Dinners takes it a step further by combining the grocery shopping, meal planning, and preparation into one easy session.
In about an hour, we can prepare 12 3-serving meals. Servings mean different things to different people. For us, we can usually get at least 3 servings out of the dinners and often 4 when we pair the entrée with some healthy vegetables or a salad.
The Dream Dinners experience starts by ordering from the monthly menu online and scheduling your session. At the appointed time, go to Dream Dinners where everything is waiting. The supplies for each dinner are set up at stations in what resembles an industrial kitchen.
The recipes are clearly color coded to help quickly add the proper proportions. Meals are assembled in either Ziploc bags or disposable tray depending on the dish. Some stores will assemble for you for a fee, but we enjoy doing this part ourselves. It allows us to customize each dish. For example, we like spicy, so we’ll add a little extra red pepper. Jessica has a mushroom allergy, so we can leave those out.
Some meals contain sides like garlic steak fries, jasmine rice, or almond green beans. Other meals may need you to supplement with a fresh side at home. Dream Dinners sells some delicious options in addition to breakfast foods (the western omelet is a favorite) and desserts. In only an hour, we’ve prepared enough meals for 6-8 weeks, avoided a trip to the grocery store, and – one of the best parts – didn’t have to worry about cleaning the kitchen.
Dream Dinners franchises really took off when they first appeared over 10 years ago. Then the idea faded and quite a few have closed. Until you do it, it’s not an easy concept to get. That’s why we encourage people to try it once. It also seems expensive because you pay for a lot of meals up front but, when you break it down, it’s really not costly. In fact, we believe we save a lot of money because having these healthy, appropriately sized dinners ready to cook keeps us from going out, which adds up quickly.
Also, when we cook at home, we get into ruts of cooking the same things over and over. Call it lack of imagination or the need to use up what we bought at the grocery store. With Dream Dinners, we eat a variety of cuisines. And, while cooking at home seems cheap, the waste from buying a jar of this or a can of that for one recipe really adds to the cost. With Dream Dinners, there’s no paying for that waste.
An added benefit of Dream Dinners is that they make great gifts. When someone is sick or has a baby, give them a Dream Dinners or two that you prepared and a home cooked meal can be a much appreciated present.
Gotta go. Time for dinner!