When I find things that make my life easier, I want to climb onto the roof and shout it out to everyone. So when I was invited to try out Dream Dinners in Encinitas and see what it was all about, I couldn’t say no. And not only did I find an awesome place to enjoy some me time, I was able to check a few things off my list in a short amount of time.
I’m a huge believer of using the tools and resources out there to make our lives easier. I also believe that everyone should know their strengths and weaknesses. And when you have a weakness, you should try and find a way to create strength. I love cooking. I love to eat what I make and enjoy seeing my family around the dinner table enjoying a meal that I made.
However with an increase in work hours and a crazier family schedule, I’ve found that the one thing I don’t have is time to prep meals. That includes finding time to grocery shop (although I do love me some Amazon Prime Now and Amazon Fresh!). But even when I do get groceries delivered to our door, I still have to prep it and come up with a dinner plan. But even with the best of intentions I find myself running around 10 minutes before my husband comes home trying to find some 15 minute wonder to make and serve to the family. Or I call the husband and ask him to pick something up.
That’s when Dream Dinners stepped in and opened my eyes to how easy meal time prep could be with a little preplanning. And a little letting go. Just like I gave in and hired a maid service when I realized I am horrible at keeping up with the house cleaning, I also realize that I need help in the kitchen too for those nights that a conference call runs late, I’m still working on a project, or I have a meeting at my son’s school. And having a meal prepped and ready to go in the fridge, with little to no prep work on my end is making my life a whole lot easier.
Why Dream Dinners?
Founded in 2002, Dream Dinners enables guests to choose from seasonal, rotating monthly menus and prepare the dinners in-store without the hassle of planning, shopping and chopping. They lay out the ingredients in an easy-to-follow format so you can assemble a month’s worth of meals in about an hour.
You can get a feel for the DreamDinners experience in this video: https://www.youtube.
How Dream Dinners Works
Interested in how Dream Dinners works? Here’s a run down of exactly what I did from the time I walked into the door to when I left with my bag of meals:
- As soon as I came in, I dropped off my purse and headed to grab an apron and wash my hands.
- Then I grabbed my list of meals that I’d be preparing that day and got to work.
- I went to the station for my first meal and looked over the instructions.
- I simply went down the instructions list and added ingredients into the small bags provided to create each “layer” of the meal or recipe. All of the tools I needed were right at the station ready to use including measuring cups and spoons as well as all of the ingredients I’d need.
- When I had all of the components together, I added everything to a larger bag and popped in a recipe card so I’d know what to do once I got home.
- After each meal was in it’s bag, I placed it in the fridge to stay cool while I finished the rest of my meals.
- I repeated this process until all of my meals were done, washing my hands in between each meal prep.
When you first walk into Dream Dinners, the helpers there take you through the process. You aren’t just left alone to figure it out, you have a helper there along the way for any questions you might have.
Since I’m eating a different meal plan than my family, I could simply omit ingredients I wouldn’t eat or substitute another ingredient. I could also note on the bag if I needed to add anything at home. For example, they have low fat versions of certain things like cream cheese. So I noted what bags I needed to add full fat cream cheese to since we don’t usually eat the low fat versions.
And not only is it easy to customize your meals, you also get to choose what meals you prepare from a huge list of meals that are on a rotating basis each month. So one month’s menu will never be the same as the previous month. That means I get to try out a lot of fun options with my family. And each time I go to Dream Dinners, I can get a taste for one of the latest menu items for the next month after I’m done!
When I got my meals home, I took the three I knew I’d make in the next 5 days and put them in the fridge. All of the others went into the freezer for another week. It’s recommended to pull the meal you want to enjoy from the freezer and into the fridge the night before so it has time to thaw out. But there is also thawing options available in case you forget like I have.
And while sides don’t come with the meals, Dream Dinners has a huge fridge with sides and dessert options you can add to your meals. Or you can choose to add your own sides. For the French Taragon Chicken with Redskin Potato Wedges meal, I added fresh asparagus and just roasted it when I roasted the potatoes. So easy to throw in when everything else was cooking.
Dream Dinners is a great option for those parents who might not have the time every night to completely prepare and cook a homemade meal for their families. I love that I now have a (cheaper) option at my fingertips for homemade dinners to take the place of calling my husband and asking him to bring home fast food.
And? I love that I can head out to Dream Dinners for a few hours to meal prep. I don’t have to make a mess in my kitchen AND I get a little me time on the weekends. Win-win!