Sunday, September 30, 2007

Dreaming Up Dinners

A few months ago, Leslie introduced me to Dream Dinners. Have you seen this in your area? The concept is dead simple. You select meals from their monthly menus. They create prep stations with all of the ingredients you need for each meal. Using their directions and ingredients you assemble your meals and seal them in individual containers. Then you bring your meals home, throw them in a freezer and just pull out one meal at a time as you need them. Genius.

I don't know about you, but the hardest part of cooking for me is deciding what to eat. I do the menu planning for the week thing, but some nights I really don't feel like Tuesday Turkey Tetrazzini or Friday Flounder Fantasy. On those nights, it's great to just grab a pre-assembled meal and have something quick and wholesome.

Last night we had Coconut Shrimp. It was baked, not fried and too yummy. I know, I know. I could freeze a bunch of casseroles myself (and I do when I have big batch foods) but on a weekly basis that would entail a lot of time, money and drudgery not to mention leftover ingredients. I mean, how much cumin or fresh coriander can you use before it goes bad?

The best part of this deal for me has been peppering our old reliable meals with Dream Dinners that are outside our normal comfort zone. It is so nice to see the kids trying new flavors and foods that are otherwise just too ambitious for me to deal with on a work night. With the pre-assembly (for me it's about one hour once every month or two packaging and purchasing about 6-8 meals), the actual time I spend in the kitchen on the night we eat one is 5-10 minutes prep at most, plus cooking time.

Oh, and did I mention that we save money? Yep, poppin' one of these puppies out of the freezer is a lot cheaper than going out or ordering in on those nights when I just can't face the world's most evil question:
"Hey Honey, what's for dinner?"