This is one of those places where you go in and prepare a bunch of meals at the same time, and then package them up and keep them in your freezer. I didn't see the appeal because I'm kind of a snob about the food I make at home. But with two young kids kicking my a$$ on a regular basis, time is at a premium and dinner has become an exercise in creative freezer diving anyway. So when some friends organized a session, I figured what the hey, let's give it a try.
You sign up in advance for a session at http://www.newdinnerconcepts.com , at which point you pick the number of meals you want, and what you want from a rotating menu. I picked Asian Pork Chops, Baked Scrod, Black and White Chili, Bulgogi, Roasted Pork Tenderloin with a sage cornbread crust, and Salmon Parmesan. The price was $125 and they say each meal serves 4-6, although so far in my experience, portions are generous so I'd say it might be closer to 6-8. Since there's only two of us eating them, that's approximately 24 dinners for two, for $125.
They allow you to bring your own refreshments/snacks so with a glass of wine in hand, I set off around the "stations" to put together my meals. Each station is prepped by the owner, Kim? with the raw materials, spices, herbs, etc. you need for the recipe. Plastic wrap/bags/foil trays were handy. I was expecting prepackaged marinades/sauces, and was surprised (and glad) to see that you really are doing it from scratch, mixing marinades, fillings, etc. So for example if you wanted a bit more sage, or a bit less salt, or no peppers, you could tailor the recipe to your preferences. As I mentioned before, portions were generous, with large pieces of fish, or as many as 10 small pork chops. The whole thing went very quickly and within an hour or so, I had all the meals done, neatly packaged and labeled with cooking instructions. Kim also supplies the side dishes, for example, garlic bread, rice pilaf, green beans, etc (a friend commented that Dream Dinners, a national franchise, costs more, has smaller portions and doesn't supply the sides). A few of my friends decided to make last minute addtions to what they had chosen in advance. Luckily she had all the supplies so they were able to do that- she says it depends on her stock. Kim was very available, and was helping everyone as needed. She had even pre-prepared one of my dishes for me. At the end of the night, I had a large cooler full of meals/sides. Luckily I have a chest freezer, because it did take up a fair amount of room.
Overall I've been pretty impressed with the quality of the food and the taste of the recipes. Even the sides seemed to be freshly prepared (instead of repackaged from commercially frozen vegetables.) The Scrod was particularly good. I was really surprised that the Chili was good- hubby and I can spend hours tinkering with a pot of chili and we actually thought it was about right. The one disappointment so far has been the Salmon, which tasted fishy to me. The Bulgogi was a bit chewy as well.
I'd definitely do it again. It's been very nice to have this stock of meals around for those days when the kids are driving me up a tree. Hubby gives it thumbs up too. I can't compare it to one of the more well known places, but that's part of the appeal for me- Kim seems very dedicated to putting out a quality product and from what my friend was saying, her experience with Dream Dinners was much more what you'd expect from a corporate franchise. It's a pretty good payoff in terms of time and money. Yes, I could buy the raw ingredients and do the same at home but I'm not sure I could actually do it more cheaply, and I'd also have to clean up :-)
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