Monday, May 16, 2011

Dinner Done

Schedules are crazy for everyone regardless of your family dynamics.  Fitting in time to cook a decent dinner can be very difficult.  I enjoy cooking but rarely find the time to do it.  These days we've relied on Dinner Done to get a decent meal on the table.  If you've never heard about it, trust me, you are missing something amazing.  Here is what you really need to know.


What is it?

Dinner Done is a kitchen where you go to prepare meals free of preservatives to put in your freezer.  Each month a new selection of menu choices becomes available.  There are usually a few new ones along with some repeat favorites.  When you go to the kitchen to prepare your meals, the recipe sits before you at a food prep station along with all the ingredients chopped and prepared.  You follow directions to assemble each meal splitting it into serving sizes that meet your needs.  All meats are perfectly proportioned, trimmed, and chopped as necessary for the recipe.  Vegetables like onions, tomatoes, and peppers are already pre-chopped.  Each ingredient has a spoodle in it that measures out the correct amount of what you need to make it quick and easy.  Because you assemble your own meals you can easily modify your dishes, excluding ingredients you don't like.  Most meals are placed in aluminum pans so you can cook them directly from the freezer, others can be made in a crock pot.  You wrap the pans in plastic and affix a label with cooking directions.  Most of the meals are main courses only, some come with pasta or rice and a few with vegetables.  Appetizers and side dishes are already prepared and frozen for you to purchase and take home if you desire.


Cost
Each meal has 4-6 servings depending on appetite and the more meals you purchase the less they are individually.  Save even more utilizing the Super Chef program where you earn a $30 gift card when you attend 3 Dinner Done kitchen sessions in a 16 week period.  If you want a variety of meals but don't have a lot of freezer space, you can also split a session with a friend.
Click here for specific costs.

Many of you are into couponing and are really pinching your pennies.  You know, based on some past posts, I'm very frugal.  (Ok, so a few friends would laugh and say I'm just cheap!)  Let me tell you a few things about why I still choose to go to Dinner done each month.
  • The dinners cost us less individually than ordering take out or dining out. 
  • Dinner Done meals are healthier than most fast food or restaurant food.
  • We have fewer leftovers which means less waste since they often sit and rot in our refrigerator.
  • I would consider many of their recipes gourmet, requiring ingredients I don't use regularly.  To purchase an entire container of something, only to use a small amount means the remainder would go to waste.
  • I spend far less time deciding what to have for dinner.
  • My time is very valuable these days and can be much better spent doing something other than preparing food all the time.  The "witching hour" for my kids is during dinner time which further complicates spending much time in the kitchen.
  • Frozen dinners can be placed in the oven and you can schedule the oven to cook it for you. 
  • Most meals just need a vegetable, baked potato, or side salad.  Many of my friends buy the steam bag vegetables for the microwave or the pre-cut and pre-washed bags of lettuce.
  • I love the Super Chef program, see below!

Dinner Done Goes Above and Beyond
  • Private parties- select a time and date, round up 8 or more participants, you all get a free dessert and the kitchen is open exclusively to your group.
  • In store shopping-  You can stop by any of their locations to purchase ready made meals out of their freezer.
  • Get it to Go!-  Dinner Done can prepare your meals for you and all you have to do is pick them up.
  • Get it Prepared and Delivered to your door.  Schedule a delivery if you live within a 15 mile radius of one of their stores.  See their calendar for free delivery days too!
  • Stork Sessions- Dinner Done will prepare meals for you when you have a new baby and won't charge you the extra fee for them to prep the food.
  • Helping Hands Session-  Similar to the stork session, Dinner Done preps the food for you and only charges the in-kitchen rate when you are undergoing chemotherapy, recovering from surgery, or after the loss of an immediate family member.
  • Snacks, wine, and sodas are available while you prepare your foods.
  • During the holidays, they offer specials like:  "Everything but the turkey", Valentine's Gourmet Meals, dessert samplers, appetizer samplers, etc...
  • Bring A Friend Days-  During this special, if you bring a friend who has never been, you each earn a $10 gift card towards your next visit.
  • NEW- Instate shipping of meals here in Florida!  Click here for more information. 

Locations
  • Tampa, FL  (Carrollwood)
  • Brandon, FL 
  • Centreville, VA
The Carrollwood kitchen is where I have made my meals for two years since a friend introduced me to the concept.  Usually I go once a month as part of a private party but I have attended open sessions as well.  Ana and Heather work the night shift at the Carrollwood location and are fabulous to work with, always taking great care of us. 

If you are not close enough to utilize any of their locations, try searching for a similar concept in your area by using "dinner preparation stores" in Google or Bing. 

Be sure to tell Dinner Done that Melissa from "Twice The Work" sent you if you decide to check them out!  Trust me, you will be in love!
-Melissa

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