New Addiction – Nourishing, Too

by kelly

I ran an errand today that felt like the pinaccle of yuppiedom.

With Emma in tow, I drove to “Dinner By Design,” a new, popular kind of dinner preparation business to pick up my 6 pre-ordered entrees (each consisting of about 4-6 servings of food).

There are other places like this, too, called “Dinner Solution,” “Dish Delish,” and “Thyme Savvy.”; the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel did a review of the local portion of this business sector here.

These business are based on the batch cooking model originally captured in cookbooks like “The Freezer Gourmet” and “Once A Month Cooking.” The concept was that if you devote two days a month to nothing by shopping, chopping, and cooking, you can freeze batches of a variety of entrees, and just heat them up the rest of the month. I even own a couple of theese cookbooks. But I confess that the idea of preparing 8 different dishes inside of two days, and all the prep work that would go into it, intimidated me so that I never made one recipe from either book.

I guess I wasn’t alone. Now these businesses have come along to do the planning, shopping, and chopping for you.

The more commonly advertised use of Dinner by Design-type places is that large or small groups of people pick a time to go there and prepare pre-selected meals. All the untensils are ready, as are the pre-chopped food ingredients. All you have to do is follow the instructions and combine the ingredients as you socialize with your friends (bringing a bottle of wine is encouraged). At the end, you take home your newly prepared creations for freezing, and later eating. Viola. No grocery list planning, no shopping, no chopping, very little cooking, and no cleanup.

But I discovered this week that there’s also a zero-ingredient-mixing option! Yep. You can cut out the two-hour ingredient combination session, and just have the Dinner by Design staff do that part for you! I place my order on the Internet on Friday, and I picked up my meals the next day! The ingredients are listed on the heating instructions sticker, and it’s all fresh, real food – no preservatives. (That means that little babies, once they are ready to share adult food, can eat the stuff, too!)

For the convenience, the price is REALLY reasonable. And if I keep doing this, every 6th or 7th purchase will basically be free, thanks to their customer reward program.

I tried the first dish tonight (the selection of entrees varies monthly). The Chicken a la Puttanesca was lovely. And the heating instruction label even included a serving suggestion (i.e. to serve the dish with “your favorite pasta, garlic bread, and a salad”). I followed the suggestion. We had company tonight. Paul’s friend, T., is in town this weekend to help with fixing up the upstairs bathroom in preparation for our new tenants. And the dinner was a hit!

I have a feeling that we’re going to be eating a lot of food from this place. It’s an easy solution to my working mother timecrunch anxieties. I’m inviting my mom over Tuesday night to help me sample the Blackened Catfish with Lime/Cilantro Butter.

I topped off this yuppie errand with a quick trip through a Starbucks Drivethrough. (Well, the baby was sleeping, and I didn’t want to disturb her!).

I would have felt overly bougiouse if I hadn’t been driving around our “Grandma Car,” a late-model Buick that we inherited from Paul’s Grandma. We like to think of it as part of our retirement savings program. It’s hard to beat not having to make a car payment – even if ‘the Grandma’ is looking kind of well-used these days. And then my next stop was at a church rummage sale to see what Baby stuff I could find. I picked up some outfit pieces to supplement our growing girl’s wardrobe. When I got home, I realized that they’d only charged me $.50 per item (!) – less then they should have, according to the homemade labels.

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