Cooking: Necessity or Luxury?

Just recently, I was invited to attend a blogger event at Dream Dinners in Chicago. Have you ever heard of it? A thriving national brand that was founded on a mission of bringing families together around the dinner table, they believe in providing people with time saving, healthy meals.

In a nutshell, here’s how Dream Dinners works:

1.) Take a look at the seasonal, monthly menu and choose the dinners you would like to prepare. Schedule a session at your local Dream Dinners location.

2.) When it’s time for your session,  bring boxes or coolers with you to the Dream Dinners store, where their friendly and knowledgeable staff will greet you and explain the process. At the store, you will rotate through refrigerated recipe stations, scooping prepped ingredients into the provided baking pans or gallon-sized, zip-top bags, which will be labeled with the appropriate cooking instructions.

3.) After assembling your dinners, take the uncooked dinners home and freeze them. Each week, three meals are taken from the freezer and placed in the refrigerator to be enjoyed during the upcoming week. Dream Dinners believes that most families have at least three busy days per week in which it would be convenient to have pre-assembled, healthy meals. You can order more than the minimum requirement if you choose to do so. They also have extras and sides available that have been assembled ahead of time.

Their hope is  that Dream Dinners will enable you to provide your family with nutritious, wholesome, home-cooked dinners with less stress and more time to enjoy your loved ones.

Dream Dinners generously allowed each of us to prepare three dinners of our choice from the current menu. The entire process was so easy and fun! Visiting each station took so much less time than I thought it would. I must admit, right in the heat of my son’s baseball season, the Dream Dinners I took home came quite in handy. If it wasn’t for those already assembled meals, we might have had cereal for dinner those nights (not really, but you get the idea.)

The whole concept started my mind reeling. My husband and I both cook. Matter of fact, we LOVE to cook; it’s our form of entertainment and a way to spend time together (by “spend time together”, I totally mean bossing each other around the kitchen.) Therefore, we often have all of the spices and ingredients available to make great meals. But, what about those parents who don’t know how to cook, were never taught to cook, don’t have time to cook or, God forbid, aren’t interested in cooking? What about those who live smack downtown in a city where they don’t have the ability to pull right up to their local grocery store and buy a week’s worth of food at a time? How about those people who don’t want to spend a small fortune on spices when they only need one bay leaf? Is knowing how to cook and having the resources available a luxury? Yes…I do suppose it is. I do have a hard time imagining having to stop at a grocery store every night after work while walking home from a train station. Hell, I can drive right up to a farm and pick out meat that will last for 3 months at a time, and I *still* don’t ever feel like going. Kind of interesting to think about, these different lifestyles that we live.

Is home cooking a necessity or a luxury? For me, it’s both. For others, it SHOULD be both…you just have to find what works best for you and your family.

Photo courtesy of Dream Dinners Chicago

Honest Blogger Found Here: Meals were gifted to me with no monetary compensation or required writing. As always, 100% my opinion. Any questions? My Disclosure Policy can be found here.
16 Responses to Cooking: Necessity or Luxury?
  1. Melisa
    June 23, 2012 | 12:38 PM

    Yum. I have always wanted to go in and do this. I think it’s a great idea and I have friends who SWEAR by places like this.

    • Toni
      June 23, 2012 | 4:41 PM

      I think it’s a great idea for those who would otherwise eat junk fast food or boxed mixes. She mentioned that many groups use it as a GNO. We DID laugh a lot while there. :)

  2. Michelle
    June 29, 2012 | 8:13 AM

    I’ve done this with a different competitor before, and it was super convenient. The only challenge I had was the sauces we made tended to be very processed (e.g., mix ketchup with jelly kind of thing), but I love the concept behind it. What meals did you make?

    And yes. Cooking is a necessity. It’s not a luxury. Just look what we’re doing to our bodies and our health!

    • Toni
      July 3, 2012 | 12:45 PM

      I think it’s all about making the “best choice”, where every family is going to be different. Although, it may not be favorable for our family, but for someone who would otherwise eat fast food every night, it might be a “better choice.”

      Let me think, I made Cider BBQ chicken, Tuscan Steaks and some other kind of steak with heirloom potatoes. The only ingredient that comes to mind that was already assembled was the pesto that went on one of the steaks. Oh, and the potatoes were already seasoned. We buy local farm raised meat, so again, this might not be the best choice for my family…though Dream Dinners says they use quality meats. We did enjoy the meals I brought home but more enjoyed the convenience, I think. :)

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  3. Lisa
    June 29, 2012 | 8:24 AM

    I need to check this place out!

  4. Tiaras & Tantrums
    June 29, 2012 | 8:59 AM

    grr – I used to love to cook – not so much anymore. It is a necessity now. To feed my kiddos. My very picky eaters! Who eat nothing. I’m so sick of cooking the same food!

    • Toni
      July 3, 2012 | 12:51 PM

      Picky children are a real roadblock. The only advice I can give is not to give into the same foods (especially if they are not healthy choices.) Branch out slow and keep introducing new flavors and foods. Eventually they may like them! It is said that people’s tastes change every seven years. My son used to be MUCH more picky…he will be 13 next weekend and is learning to love everything…and can’t get enough of anything hot and spicy!

  5. Antoinette
    June 29, 2012 | 9:00 AM

    Where have Dream Dinners been my whole adult life!! They are right, we do have 3 nights that we are so busy all I do is stop and pick up a happy meal for my daughter.

    • Toni
      July 3, 2012 | 12:48 PM

      I really did like the convenience of having the meals already in the freezer, and knowing they weren’t frozen processed stuff. Trying to think of some of my recipes that can be “pre-assembled” in this same manner :)

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  6. Colleen
    June 29, 2012 | 9:53 AM

    Cooking is a necessity for me what I wish I had more time to actually enjoy so as to make more interesting dishes. We have something like that place around here (I’m in Milwaukee). I used to meet up with a friend once a month and we’d chat while we put together our meals. It was a great double duty girls night and making dinners for the family. We stopped doing it because the service is actually quite expensive. I’d like to get into the habit of setting up dinners that way on my own!

    • Toni
      July 3, 2012 | 12:54 PM

      Yes! I guess one would need to compare the price of the service against what they spend eating out, etc. and see if it works into a personal budget…especially because there is a minimum of ordering 12 meals at a time. I, too, have been trying to think of some of my more common recipes that I could pre-assemble at home! I need to be more proactive about freezing some good ones. :)

  7. Annie @ Mama Dweeb
    June 30, 2012 | 12:55 AM

    What a cool idea! I can tell you 100% that if they were in Kansas I’d drive up to 2 hrs one way to do this. I try so hard to meal plan, but there are weeks that I am just SWAMPED and don’t want to cook. At all. I have served scrambled eggs and cereal for dinner before. I have also purchased frozen skillet meals before. But this sounds 100% healthier. LOVE IT!

  8. Toni
    July 3, 2012 | 7:12 AM

    Did you happen to check and see if they are located in your area? I know they are scattered nationwide. :)

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