Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Time for Dinner

A few weeks ago, I met up with some local bloggers (turned real-life friends) for a meal-making session at Time for Dinner.  Have you all heard of this place?  It's a local spot where you can choose entrees/desserts from a menu, then go in and prepare freezer meals for your family.  With 4 out of the 6 bloggers present being pregnant and the other two with toddlers at home, having easy, delicious, healthy premade meals was something we were all interested in.  
How it works:  Each month Time for Dinner posts a new menu online.  They usually have around 12-15 savory entree items and 1 amazing dessert option.  The entrees are everything from burritos to casserole, quiches, soups, sandwiches, wraps, pastas and salads.  They include fish, chicken, beef, pork and vegetarian meals.  Most people choose to make between 6-12 dishes during their sessions. Each dish makes 6 servings (and is usually broken into two separate meals) and the cost of 6 dishes (or 12 meals) is $125.  
At the beginning of your session, the staff will print out a list of the dishes you pre-ordered and assign you a shelf in the fridge where you can store your dishes once they're put made.  At the end of the session, you take all your food home (preferably in a cooler if you didn't forget it, which of course I did) and put it directly in the freezer.  Viola! 
How you make the meals: Each available dish will have it's own station (or two), already set-up, organized and ready for you.  The station has the "recipe" and instructions printed and laminated, so you know exactly what to do.  All the ingredients you'll need are arranged (in order from left to right) on the table in front of you, with the correct measuring device already there.  
All you have to do is wash your hands, grab your protein from the fridge and get started. All the recipes are made in big Ziplock bags or metal trays, with labels stating the name of the dish and giving cooking instructions, nutritional information and side dish suggestions.  There's a separate date label to use so you know when the meal was prepared/frozen.  
Making the meals at the stations is pretty easy.  It does take a bit of concentration, but if you can read and follow directions, you can do this no problem.  I've seen lots of parents bring in their kids and have them make the meals, which seems to be a great way to teach them skills regarding reading, following directions, measuring/math, etc.   
Socializing: The stations are set-up in a way that encourages you to interact with the other meal-makers, making it a great place to go with friends.  They even allow you to bring in snacks and wine/beverages to enjoy while you're making your meals.  


Customizing: One of my favorite things about Time for Dinner is that they encourage you to make the recipe your own.  They give you the basic recipe, but they also allow you to switch things up to your liking.  If you don't like a particular spice/ingredient, leave it out.  If you're a huge fan of spicy food, add a bit of extra spice for an additional kick.  
Nutrition: Time for Dinner is also (what my Weight Watcher instructor mother-in-law calls) "Weight Watcher Friendly," in that they offer healthy choices, small portions and give all the nutritional information (and WW point values) on the labels.  There are always healthy meal choices available and vegetarian options.

To Go Options: If you don't want to go in and make your own meals, they also have premade "freezer meals" and "To Go" menu items that you can pick up anytime.  These include not only the entrees, but appetizers, dips, side dishes, soups, veggies, breads and desserts.  These are slightly more expensive than making them yourself, but are perfect to get for dinner tonight or take to a new-mom friend. 
My husband and I are big fans of the meals.  Out of probably 40 different meals we've tried, I think there has only been one that we weren't crazy about.  We have a big deep freeze in our basement and I'm currently trying to get it completely stocked with easy, healthy premade meals for when the baby arrives.  These meals are so simple - most of the time they just require you to pull them out of the freezer the night before to thaw, then pop in the oven for 20-30 minutes.  Paired with some veggies, a salad or rice and you've got a meal - perfect for new moms.
New Mom Program: If you're interested, they also have a program for new moms where you can pick up the premade freezer meals for the same price as making them yourself for the first three months after having the baby.  I love making the food myself, but I fully intend to take advantage of this once Mim arrives this summer.  
Chicken cordon bleu.
Bloggers (left to right) -
          Liz: Ellie & Addie
          Alyssa: My Husband's Watching TV
          Liz: But...Will There Be Cake?
          Megan: Meg-In-Training
          Me!
          Dacy: Mindful Closet


If you're in STL, check out Time for Dinner in Brentwood.

Have you ever done anything like this where you make meals ahead of time?


*I was not compensated in any way for this post and paid full-price for all my meals.  All opinions of (and love for) Time for Dinner are my own, based on my experience.  

21 comments:

  1. Such a neat concept!! That looks fun and helpful!

    ReplyDelete
  2. We used to have a bunch of these places in town (different companies but same concept) but they've all gone out of business. I never tried them but the concept does sound good! And it's always fun to cook with friends.

    ReplyDelete
  3. What a smart idea! Makes for a fun girls day and then you also get to bring up food!

    ReplyDelete
  4. so fun! I just did a Wildtree party which is a direct sales company...but we made 20 freezer meals & had such a fun time! I wish we had a place like this in Springfield!

    ReplyDelete
  5. We have a few places just like this here in Milwaukee and I used to make the meals before kids---why don't I just do it again??!! Loved having the meals ready to go after a long day at work, especially. Great idea and a fun time, too.

    ReplyDelete
  6. That looks like so much fun! I need to make some freezer meals - they would make our nights so much easier!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I have never heard of something like this before but I LOVE the idea! I wish I had something like this near me too!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Oh how fun!! I work so close to Brentwood and never knew this existed! Thanks for opening my eyes a little bit more to St Louis. :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Say WHAT!! That is so so neat!!! I doubt my city has anything like this but this is so much fun!! It would be a good business idea! :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. LOVE this idea. I need to round up some friends and jump on this train (as I type this I'm frantically looking for things to throw together to make an acceptable meal - gah)!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Since you love to cook, was it weird to have all the prep work done for you? So handy with baby coming soon!

    ReplyDelete
  12. What a fun idea and a fun night!!

    ReplyDelete
  13. I did freezer meals before baby number 1 arrived and almost all the recipes I followed we hated once we finally ate them!! I was super pregnant when I prepped it all and alone it took me he whole day...I would love it all layed out and good recipes! I wonder if we have anything like this around here....hmmmm....thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  14. What a fun place! I'll have to look into something like that!

    ReplyDelete
  15. So bummed I missed this night out! It sounds like you guys had a great time. :)

    ReplyDelete
  16. I've heard of places like this and I think they are such a wonderful and fun idea! I've never actually gone and done it, but it sounds like tons of fun and the menu options always look so yummy! It would be so nice to have a freezer full of meals after baby arrives so you can just pick what you like and not have to worry about fixing a meal! And how wonderful that they offer the foods pre-made like that for a few months after baby comes. I need to find one of these places where I live!

    ReplyDelete
  17. This is awesome! I've never heard of anything like this. Normally I aim to plan my meals out for the week ,but I could definitely be more prepared when it comes time to start cooking. My kitchen gets a bit chaotic with three little ones at meal time! I do love to cook, but it would be nice to not have as much to clean up in the kitchen!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Love everything about this! I hope I can find something like this around here! Maybe it will make me like cooking more...because right now, it's about my least favorite thing in the world. haha.

    ReplyDelete
  19. This is actually genius... I pretty much need to find something like this... or make time to do it at home... you'll have to tell everyone which were the best!! I've always wanted to try something like this!!

    ReplyDelete