Recently, I bid on and won a silent auction at a school fundraiser. I was pretty excited since I:

A. don’t win much and B. wanted to try Dream Dinners to see what it was all about. The “voucher” said I had to bring a friend, so I invited my friend Chris Glass, who loves food and is always up for a little adventure. The voucher cost me $45, but said it was a $75.00 value.

We scheduled our meal making session for a Thursday night at 7:30. We first met with one of the owners who had used the service herself a few years back. She explained the “plate points” and various offers that the company provided. While we were waiting, a busy mom of 4 boys popped in to grab meals for a month that were bagged up and ready to go. Convenience is the name of the game here.

The way it works is that each meal has a station and some ingredients for meals may overlap. For example, you may need minced garlic for 2 meals, so the stations sit next to each other. Each ingredient is kept in a bin with appropriate serving sizes for each one. You start by putting a gallon-sized or smaller bag into a plastic receptacle, similar to a silverware holder, then add ingredients to it. You end with 2 or 3 separate bags of ingredients that you place into one large Ziploc bag with instructions on how to cook the food. There are samples of other meals and side dishes out to try before you cook, which was nice.

You can freeze all of the meals, or keep as many out in your frig that you’d like to cook. Servings come in 3’s or 6’s, which I found a little odd since most people that would use the service would need them for a family. I guess you can see it as “small or large family”.

This week, I chose to make chicken yakitori. It was a combination of soy sauce, garlic, ginger, sesame seeds, brown sugar, green onions and chicken. I can’t tell you the exact proportions (or I’ll have to kill you). Seriously, you are not allowed to take a picture or copy the recipe, since obviously they are branded by Dream Dinners. My friend made the workers nervous because he always has a camera around his neck. He got a few shots of me mixing spices, but nothing else.

I decided to try one of the meals this past week. I thawed out the meal the night before and commenced cooking. I noticed right away that the portion of chicken was a little skimpy for 3 people. I’m not a big meat eater to begin with, but typically shoot for 2-3 oz. per meal. I decided to add a bag of broccoli slaw to the chicken, then added in the sauce. The broccoli slaw really added more color, texture and volume to the meal. I boiled the white/jasmine rice while the chicken and sauce cooked. It took 10 minutes to cook (not 25 as the package suggested). You can make the meal healthier by using brown rice, farro or even quinoa VS white rice.

The taste of the meal was not awful, but it wasn’t the greatest either. The sauce was too salty for me, which could be remedied by using low sodium soy sauce. Had I not put the broccoli slaw in, the meal would look basically brown and white, which is not very appealing to the eye. Adding the slaw improved the color, increased the portion size and made it more nutritious. I would suggest they add some frozen broccoli to the meal to round it out more.

Overall, the experience of bagging up the meals was fun and the people were very nice. But, the first meal did not “wow” me and I won’t be dreaming of eating it again any time soon. For the cost of the meals, I may just stick with Pinterest and to look for something more interesting to cook than I would make myself.

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