Dream Dinners Experience & Meal Reviews
Disclaimer: I was provided with 4 complimentary 3-serving meals in exchange for my honest review. No other compensation was received and, as always, thoughts are unbiased and completely my own.
Up until one week ago I'd never heard of Dream Dinners. Three meals later I am very impressed! Dream Dinners is a wonderfully inventive concept that has re-imagined the way meal prep in busy families takes place. The menu is planned for you, the shopping is done for you, the cutting, slicing and dicing is done for you too. Basically, all of the hard work is done before you step into your local Dream Dinners. You choose your menu ahead of time, book an appointment to come in and very easily pre-prep an entire month's worth of meals in just about an hour. That translates into no chopping/no clean up at home AND no worrying about what you're going to cook. It's pretty genius. I was excited to be invited to this blogger event to experience the service and cook the meals at home.
As soon as I walked into the San Jose location I was charmed to find the store to be very clean, cute and spacious. I appreciate that the space feels like a home kitchen and I love the "Dream" sign above the aprons.
The stations are nicely organized and everything you need to package your meals together is within your reach. From bags to spices to recipe cards. Very user friendly and well organized.
The next thing I noticed was my name on a drawer and on a refrigerator! Each customer receives a cubby to store their purses, wallets, etc. This way your hands are free while you're putting together your meals.
Each customer also has a section of the fridge set-aside for them. Inside the fridge you will find a print out of your meal order as well as instruction cards for each meal. This essentially helps you determine which stations you'll visit when you begin your meal packaging.
After a quick how-to tutorial by the lovely staff, we began putting our meals together.
Although recipe cards are provided for you with clear and simple measurement instructions, you are in control of your meal. So, for example, if your family really likes Parmesan, you can add a little more than the recipe calls for into your mixture bag.
Recipe cards (which cannot be shown because they are proprietary) tell you how to build each "container" or component of your meal. Once you assemble all of the components you will seal them and place them in large gallon sized bag. Then you'll slip in your instructions and you're done. (Photos of completely packaged meals are further below in this post.)
Dream Dinners provides fresh, clean measuring tools for each customer. You know I really liked that.
Each measuring spoon is color coded by size which makes dropping your ingredients into the bags even faster.
Everyone had a fun time assembling their meals. As a bonus, Dream Dinners provided us with a sample of super yummy scones. YUM!
Even with all the chatting and snacking and photo taking, I finished packaging our meals fairly quickly. As soon as I got home I placed my bags in the freezer until we decided what we would eat first. So far I have cooked 3 of the 4 meals and can tell you that they were tasty and easy to prepare. I simply pulled the bag out of the freezer the night before cooking and let it thaw in the fridge while we went to work. When I got home I followed the instructions on the card and plated our meals. NoTwitterTodd loved everything I made him, and since it's just the two of us right now, we were able to enjoy the left overs for lunch the next day. I really liked that!
Below are the 3 Dream Dinners meals I have cooked in the last week:
Meatloaf Milano with Mashed Potatoes
This meatloaf, with an unexpected hit of cheese in the middle, was super moist and flavorful. The mashed potatoes were a snap to heat up and I added my own steamed broccoli for the perfect comfort meal.
BBQ Chip Chicken Tenders with Dipping Sauce
I chose this meal for a night when maybe my daughter would be home or my niece or nephew since they all love chicken tenders. Well, NoTwitterTodd and I actually ended up enjoying it ourselves alongside a veggie salad. To keep the meal healthier for myself, I skipped the dipping sauce, but he enjoyed it. The tenders were juicy and the BBQ chip texture was fun.
Simmered Chinese Chicken with Jasmine Rice
This has been our favorite meal! The simple sauce that I put together at Dream Dinners with extra garlic and red pepper flake, since those are our faves, was delightful. The chicken was moist and browned nicely. The rice was a snap to make. I was worried because I always ruin rice that isn't cooked in a rice cooker, but these instructions really make it easy.
My experience with Dream Dinners was extremely positive. From the menu choices to the easy packaging and pick-up to the storage and cooking. All of it was seamless.
This is a fabulous service for so many different types of families. I can see busy families benefitting greatly from this, but also families where someone may need a little extra help in the kitchen due to a variety of life's circumstances. Additionally, if you live on a college campus with a kitchen - this would be a GREAT way to make some friends and have healthy study dinners.
The meals come in 3 or 6 serving quantities, which right now for us is too much. But the beauty of Dream Dinners is that there are no contracts to sign, so I can drop in and out every month and have my freezer stocked with great meals. I recommend everyone check it out at least once. It may seem pricey, but when you factor in that you will only go to the grocery store for veggies and dairy - I think the benefit is clear.
Check out the Dream Dinners website to find a location near you and to learn more.