I first heard about Dream Dinners more than two years ago and really wanted to try it. What they do is solve the dinner dilemma for you; the meal is ready and waiting in your freezer! The Man finally gave in to my begging and agreed to try it for one month, a total of 12 dinners (3 servings each).
Here's how it works:
- Browse their monthly menu. You'll probably have a hard time narrowing down your list. Minimum order is 36 servings and you can package them in either 3 or 6 serving sizes.
- Schedule your visit and place your order.
- Show up for your appointment.
- Put on an apron.
- Have some fun!
Pretty cool set-up, don't you think?
You get an assigned space in their huge freezer to keep your dinners cool while you work. I was Shelf #7. They gave me my order confirmation as a guide, reminding me which dinners I had ordered and how much of each (got two sets of the same thing for those evenings when we have company). Then, I was shown the stations.
Each one has a recipe and ingredients for a specific meal. This one was for a chicken stir fry.
Following the instructions is pretty easy, even if you don't do a lot of cooking (or aren't especially good at it, like me). And all the ingredients and chopped, minced, mixed and ready for you! I loved that part. No cutting onions or attempting to not chop off a fingertip while dicing carrots.
And it looks pretty cool as you're getting things together.
Don't forget all the components! Some meals have separate bags for the marinade, veggies and the meat.
Once you're done putting it together, bag it up at the counter. They have labels for all the dinners you've ordered with cooking instructions printed on them. No searching for the directions when you're trying to feed your family.
Put the bag in your shelf space and move on to the next dinner! I was working by myself but some people worked in pairs. One customer even had two kids helping her out.
Since you make the dinners yourself, you can customize it to your family's preferences. Love garlic? Add as much as you want! Can't stand green peppers but crave the red ones? No problem. Have never tasted a caper and frankly, never want to? Leave them out. (But really, they're not that bad...taste kinda like olives.) Several of the dinners come with sides, like rice or pasta. Or Dream Dinners has some prepared sides ready to take home with you. I picked up mashed potatoes with gorgonzola. Mmmmm....cheesy...
Here are a couple of tips:
- If you're not sure what you will like, stick to the recipe. Unless you really hate artichoke hearts, trust that their choices are going to work. Next time around, you can change it.
- Pay attention to the serving size! The 3 serving recipe is on one side of the paper and the 6 serving is on the other. Don't get those mixed up or you'll end up with waaaaay too much chili powder for the amount of chicken you're using.
- Look at the measuring utensils before using them. Your recipe might say 1 tbsp but it's a half tbsp measure. OR you might be measuring 1 1/2 tablespoons of lemon juice but accidentally read it on the ounces side, thereby doubling the amount unintentionally. And I gotta tell ya...too much lemon juice really changes the flavor and your husband might not be that excited about it. Not that I know, or anything...okay, so maybe I did that but just once!
- If you make a mess (like dropping a measuring cup in the dijon mustard or splattering the soy sauce) or you make a mistake, flag down one of the ladies in the black aprons. They can bring you a new measuring cup, give advice on fixing a mistake, or help you start over.
- Bring a large cooler with you to bring all your dinners home. I brought one that was not that big, thinking it would be fine. However, I couldn't fit all my meals inside so I had to bring the rest home in bags.
Not quite ready to devote that much of your grocery budget? Ask about an open house. I went to one before scheduling my session. Not only do you get practice by putting together a free dinner but they offer lots of different samples of their other dishes so you get a better idea of what they taste like. Also, you can split the 36 servings with a friend, divide the order between you and still meet the minimum.
Also? If you don't have the time to go in and put together your dinners (or you have a big, pregnant belly that keeps getting in the way whenever you reach for the oregano), they offer a completion service. They'll put together your dinners for you for $25; all you have to do is stop in and pick them up.
Danielle and Jean at the Orem location were super sweet and very helpful. They make you feel more like your cooking with friends than in a business. And for someone as culinary inept as myself, that really helped.
Don't have a Dream Dinners close by? Other similar businesses are My Girlfriend's Kitchen and Dinner Date.