Disclosure: Dream Dinners provided me with complimentary fix-and-freeze meals. All opinions shared are my own.
We all have days when we’re too busy or too tired to put a healthy meal on the table for our families. I know I’m guilty of ordering out or grabbing fast food on those busy days. That’s why I love the concept behind Dream Dinners fix-and-freeze meals. Because how many store-bought rotisserie chickens can I feed my family before they begin to protest?
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What is Dream Dinners?
Founded by two busy moms who wanted to make mealtime easier, Dream Dinners gives families a convenient way to serve a healthy, home cooked meal. It’s homemade, made easy. You do the prep and cooking, it’s just made easier for today’s busy lifestyle.
Visit a Dream Dinners location (there are 3 in Connecticut: Berlin, Manchester, Plantsville) to assemble healthy precooked meals. Freeze the meals at home. Defrost on the day you want to eat (some meals go straight from freezer to over) and cook. Dream Dinners takes care of all the ingredients, chopping, and prep clean up. Most meals are ready in 30 minutes or less.
How it Works
I was recently invited to try out Dream Dinners in Berlin, CT. I had picked out the meals and date of my visit online before my visit. I found the website helpful when selecting my meals because it includes nutrition facts, pictures and customer ratings. I’m a person who is 10 times more likely to order something that has a picture so this was perfect for me. There are even cooking videos online if you need a confidence boost in how to prepare your meal.
What to Expect
When I arrived at the store everything was labeled with my name. I had a basket for my belongings, a shelf in the freezer, and an apron. Since this was my first time visiting the store I had a staff member walk me through the whole process. They were available to answer questions and gave helpful tips.
TIP: Bring along a cooler to transport food home. I used a small picnic tote and it was perfect for the introductory offer (3 meals). If you are preparing anything larger than 3 meals I’d suggest a full size cooler.
The store is organized into food stations that are stocked with all of the ingredients, tools, and recipes needed to prepare your meal. All of the food prep, peeling, and chopping has been done for you. They even come by to clean up your spills. You simply combine ingredients for a meal that will be frozen and cooked later.
NOTE: Everything is prepared in large freezer bags. You never touch raw meat.
Build Your Meal
You are given a clipboard with your meal choices. Meals can be prepared in servings of 3 or 6. At each station you will find a recipe card presented on a large laminated sheet that gives you step-by-step directions on how to prepare each part of the meal. They use a color code system for each ingredient. Each color box on the recipe corresponds to an ingredient. For example, if there are 2 green boxes on the recipe for black pepper, you find the green labeled spoon and add 2 spoonfuls of black pepper to your bag. It’s simple once you get the hang of it.
TIP: You get to control the ingredients just like at home. Not a fan of garlic? Leave it out. Love things spicy? Add in some extra pepper. Customize the recipe to your family’s taste buds.
When your meals are all prepared the staff members fill your cooler (or a paper bag if you forget) and ring you out. This is a perfect opportunity to purchase some frozen side dishes or desserts to make along side. When you’re all done the staff member even brings out your meals to your car!
I prepared 3 meals (18 servings) in less than an hour and that included a lot of chitchat with the staff. You should be able to prepare 36 servings in less than 2 hours. I know that some moms use this as a night out with friends (go out for drinks after?). It also makes the perfect gift for new parents or parents-to-be. They offer a Made for You service where meals are prepared for you for a $20 assembly fee. As a new parent, they waive the assembly fee for the first 3 months post delivery. I know I would have totally taken advantage of this offer while settling into a routine with my newborns.
My Honest Opinion
I am a comfortable cook in the kitchen, but like everyone, I run into days where I have no ingredients, time, or desire to spend my day in the kitchen. Dream Dinners solves a real problem. I enjoyed the process of preparing the meals. I found the recipes easy to follow and flavorful. I never thought that my kids would eat chicken paella, but they did!
Two of the big complaints that people have with Dream Dinners are the cost and serving size. The introductory offer is $75 and includes 16 servings. I was able to create 3 meals (6 servings) of black & blue steak, cranberry chicken, and chicken paella. Ultimately, you are the judge of whether that fits into your family’s budget.
I have to agree that the serving size is a bit on the small side. We used all 6 servings for our family of 5 which includes 3 small portion eating toddlers. I would expect to use 3 servings for every 2 people.
Overall I liked the process and thought that the food was very tasty. I’m not sure if I’m a monthly subscriber but I can definitely see it being something that I use in the future when my schedule looks extra busy.
Readers of CT Mommy Blog have a special offer to receive 10% off their first full session order (not valid on introductory orders). Use promo code 2015NEW10DD at checkout. Try it out and let me know your thoughts!