Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Dream Dinners

Last night, my friend Sarah invited me to join her and her mommy group at an outing to visit Dream Dinners in San Luis. I made it a mini girl's night with Melinda and Jill.

Dream Dinners is committed to giving you healthy alternatives to restaurant and fast food.They
provide everything you need to assemble delicious dinners for your family, store in your freezer and serve in the weeks ahead. They supply all of the essentials, from easy-to-follow instructions to fresh, pre-cut ingredients.You'll notice when assembling meals how little salt is added to the recipes. Since they add an abundance of other herbs and spices, you will taste how delicious the meals are without a lot of added salt. The side dish vegetables and rices/pastas are provided with very simple instructions and do not include the addition of salt or butter or oil. Most meals are under 10 g. of fat per serving, and around 350 calories.

You choose what dinners you want and then make an appointment in advance. Upon walking in, you grab an apron and get to work!

There are different stations set up, each with all the ingredients you will need and a recipe card telling you what ingredients to add. Each month they come out with about 17 new main courses. You prepare the meals in bags, or disposable pans for freezing. Then you put a label on it that has the thawing, and cooking instructions, as well as suggested side dishes. After thawing, you transfer to your own pot, pan, whatever.
One of the other nice things it that since YOU are in control of the meal prep, you can tailor it to what you like. Don't like bell peppers? Leave them out! Love garlic? Double it!

Going in I thought that it would be fun, but I probably wouldn't end up coming back. I mean, the menu looked yummy, but this was for people who couldn't cook right? Then I started thinking about it. Jerad and I have nightly commitments Tuesday-Thursday, and are always busy on the weekends. Usually Friday is filled with errands, grocery shopping, and cleaning. On weekend nights after working 10.5 hour days, I don't have TIME to throw together very exciting meals. How nice would it be to have something already prepared? That I knew didn't have any preservatives or chemicals and I technically had "made." With the days being shorter, it will be nice to have some stand by meals in the freezer!

So, I signed up. You don't have to make a commitment, you just sign up for a "session." In a session, you have to make at least 36 servings, any combination of 3 or 6 serving meals. We also got all sorts of free stuff for signing up and 5% off the order. If you sign up the next month, you get 10% off, 15% off the next month, all the way up till 30% off. The first month ended up costing me $4.70/serving. Which included EVERYTHING. That's way cheaper than eating out, and if you figure in the spices and condiments, comparable to cooking at home.

I also like the variety. We'll be trying alot of things that I normally wouldn't think of making. Our first session is November 14th, and is "Couple's Night." They play music, and serve food, wine, and beer. Its all couples. So, its like a date night, but at the same time we will be getting a bunch of our month's meal prep out of the way.

Jerad and I love cooking together, but he is not a fan of grocery shopping, and obviously neither one of us is too hot and heavy about cleaving the kitchen. So, obviously we are both looking forward to this. I'll post an update after we've tried it!

Here is the November menu:

This recipe was provided by Everyday Food and is a version of a Hungarian classic often called a "Paprikash". Sweet paprika and sour cream share the spotlight with our lean and tender pork chops, adding just the right blend of spice and creaminess. We've provided egg noodles to soak up all the flavors

CARIBBEAN JERK CHICKEN Jerk-style seasoning is a staple in the Caribbean culture, and every family has their own unique recipe. Everyday Food has provided Dream Dinners with this spicy and tangy recipe flavored with just a hint of McCormick's Ground Cinnamon.

SOY GLAZED SALMON This recipe was provided by Everyday Food and pairs our Atlantic Salmon fillets with a glaze sweetened by brown sugar, brightened with the freshness of lemon juice and white wine all finished with a little soy sauce to add depth and character to this fabulous recipe.

WHITE CHICKEN LASAGNA Sure to be a new Dream Dinners favorite, this creamy lasagna is layered with cooked chicken breast, Alfredo sauce, fresh mushrooms, sour cream and cheese and finally topped with Parmesan cheese and chopped toasty pecans.

Spice up any night of the week with this slow cooked beef, flavored in true Tex-Mex style! Slow cooking will bring out the flavors of the onion and garlic, and the heat from the seasonings. Shredded at home then wrapped in flour tortillas along with our mild salsa and sour cream. (provided)

Save time and money by preparing all your Holiday side dishes at Dream Dinners! Your family will think you've spent days in the kitchen! You will go home with all of these: 1) a savory stuffing with sausage and pecans, 2) a green bean casserole, 3) home styled mashed potatoes with rich gravy and 4) flakey buttermilk biscuits.

BEEF PASTA BOLOGNESE This is a classic, Italian crowd pleaser. Slow cooked marinara sauce is loaded with chunks of tender beef to spoon over penne pasta (provided). This is a hearty; fuss free Dream Dinner you can serve time and again to smiling faces.

CREAMY TORTELLINI WITH BACON Cheese filled pasta are simmered with a savory, light, creamy marinara sauce, then blended with smokey bacon and tender peas. For a vegetarian option simply leave out the bacon, either way this will be a quick and easy meal the whole family will love.

This is an impressive presentation that will "wow" your friends and family. This month, our lean, juicy pork roast is marinated in honey and Dijon mustard, and then baked with a crunchy pecan crust. Paired with our festive cranberry-applesauce each bite is an explosion of flavor!

GRILLED STEAKS WITH CARAMELIZED ONION Tender aged steaks are broiled to perfection, nestled on a bed of caramelized onions, seasoned with garlic and rosemary then finished with a layer of melted gorgonzola cheese. This is a perfect dinner for entertaining during this holiday season.

NEW ORLEANS JAMBALAYA In some Louisiana kitchens, Jambalaya recipes are guarded like national treasures. You may find this dish becomes your new secret for easy entertaining. The baked rice is loaded with shrimp, chunks of smoked sausage, tomatoes and confetti of chopped peppers.

OVEN BAKED ALMOND CHICKEN Treat your family to crispy, almond baked chicken. All ages, will love these lean all natural chicken breasts, rolled in a golden crust of almonds and served with our sweet and sour dipping sauce. Another Dream Dinners signature dish!

ARROZ CON POLLO Fluffy white rice, black beans, corn, natural boneless chicken breasts and zesty red salsa, are all layered then topped with cheese and baked until bubbly and golden brown to create this one pan meal that is quick to fix and a Dream Dinners signature meal for the last 6 years!

ITALIAN STUFFED SHELLS Our pasta shells are generously stuffed with an Italian cheese blend, covered with marinara sauce and a touch of Alfredo sauce, then drizzled with basil pesto. With the added ease of freezer to oven instructions this entrée is great to have in your freezer for that last minute meal or pot luck offering.

Short on time? Need some quick solutions to your dinner plans for the month? Our Fast Lane menu includes Dream Dinners Classics, limited time offers and desserts that are already assembled and ready-to-go! Selections may vary by store.

BACON WRAPPED MAPLE GLAZED TURKEY MEDALLIONS Our elegant turkey medallions are wrapped with smoky bacon, baked with a velvety sauce of maple syrup, and brown sugar, and then sprinkled with crunchy pecans. These are healthy, moist and delicious. Perfect for a small Thanksgiving dinner.

STEAK WITH GARLIC AND HERB BUTTER Ready to Cook" The words every busy parent loves to hear. Our wildly popular steaks are ready to grill or broil, served slathered with our incredible garlic and herb butter . Don't miss it! This meal is fully assembled and ready to go.

The perfect finish to your holiday meal, honestly to any meal! This cheesecake blends the delicious spiced flavors of pumpkin into a decadently creamy cheesecake that is sure to impress family and guests. Sophisticated enough for adults, sweet and creamy enough to entice the little ones. Large enough to feed a crowd. (Check your store, subject to availability)


.heidi.noelle. said...

This is SO incredibly cool! I have heard about something like this, but never actually seen a center before...hmmm...maybe I need to do more investigating around here :D

Steph said...

Yeah they have over 200 locations, so there is probably one near you!

I also used to do the same thing at home using this site: which is basically the same thing. They give you weekly or monthly menus including grocery lists. There are a lot more vegetarian options. You buy everything and prepare it at home.

It was fun and worked well if you have the time! I think the dream dinners would be fun to do with a friend! They let you bring in wine and play music too. Its a social event...

Sarah Griffin said...

Thanks for coming! It was fun having you guys there... sorry I was late. I SO didn't expect to sign up either. But it made a lot of sense. I think I will check out the other website link you put here, because it would be much less expensive to do it on your own at home... but hey its not a huge committment. And I thought it was worth a try for at least the first month!

Beth McDermott said...

YUM-o, looks like I missed a PARTAY! so... when do i show up for the ACTUAL girls nite, where we sit around and drink wine and EAT all the gourmet/easy bake stuff...? I'll bring dessert...