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Dinner Concepts in Wakefield

Chris VR Apr 21, 2007 07:58 PM

This is one of those places where you go in and prepare a bunch of meals at the same time, and then package them up and keep them in your freezer. I didn't see the appeal because I'm kind of a snob about the food I make at home. But with two young kids kicking my a$$ on a regular basis, time is at a premium and dinner has become an exercise in creative freezer diving anyway. So when some friends organized a session, I figured what the hey, let's give it a try.

You sign up in advance for a session at http://www.newdinnerconcepts.com , at which point you pick the number of meals you want, and what you want from a rotating menu. I picked Asian Pork Chops, Baked Scrod, Black and White Chili, Bulgogi, Roasted Pork Tenderloin with a sage cornbread crust, and Salmon Parmesan. The price was $125 and they say each meal serves 4-6, although so far in my experience, portions are generous so I'd say it might be closer to 6-8. Since there's only two of us eating them, that's approximately 24 dinners for two, for $125.

They allow you to bring your own refreshments/snacks so with a glass of wine in hand, I set off around the "stations" to put together my meals. Each station is prepped by the owner, Kim? with the raw materials, spices, herbs, etc. you need for the recipe. Plastic wrap/bags/foil trays were handy. I was expecting prepackaged marinades/sauces, and was surprised (and glad) to see that you really are doing it from scratch, mixing marinades, fillings, etc. So for example if you wanted a bit more sage, or a bit less salt, or no peppers, you could tailor the recipe to your preferences. As I mentioned before, portions were generous, with large pieces of fish, or as many as 10 small pork chops. The whole thing went very quickly and within an hour or so, I had all the meals done, neatly packaged and labeled with cooking instructions. Kim also supplies the side dishes, for example, garlic bread, rice pilaf, green beans, etc (a friend commented that Dream Dinners, a national franchise, costs more, has smaller portions and doesn't supply the sides). A few of my friends decided to make last minute addtions to what they had chosen in advance. Luckily she had all the supplies so they were able to do that- she says it depends on her stock. Kim was very available, and was helping everyone as needed. She had even pre-prepared one of my dishes for me. At the end of the night, I had a large cooler full of meals/sides. Luckily I have a chest freezer, because it did take up a fair amount of room.

Overall I've been pretty impressed with the quality of the food and the taste of the recipes. Even the sides seemed to be freshly prepared (instead of repackaged from commercially frozen vegetables.) The Scrod was particularly good. I was really surprised that the Chili was good- hubby and I can spend hours tinkering with a pot of chili and we actually thought it was about right. The one disappointment so far has been the Salmon, which tasted fishy to me. The Bulgogi was a bit chewy as well.

I'd definitely do it again. It's been very nice to have this stock of meals around for those days when the kids are driving me up a tree. Hubby gives it thumbs up too. I can't compare it to one of the more well known places, but that's part of the appeal for me- Kim seems very dedicated to putting out a quality product and from what my friend was saying, her experience with Dream Dinners was much more what you'd expect from a corporate franchise. It's a pretty good payoff in terms of time and money. Yes, I could buy the raw ingredients and do the same at home but I'm not sure I could actually do it more cheaply, and I'd also have to clean up :-)

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  1. macca Apr 22, 2007 02:30 PM

    Interesting. My schedule, thankfully, allows me the leisure of cooking- and of eating dinner at a later hour, if necessary. I do have lots of relatives with both really young children and with a few kids who spend their time running from sports event to sports event. I will tell them about this- like you, they all enjoy cooking when there is time, but they like good food, and take pride in what they serve their families. This sounds like it may be just the thing. And it is also a good thing to have it recommended by a chowhound!!

    1. l
      lysander Apr 23, 2007 01:06 PM

      I've gone to this place 2X- both times split the 12 meals with a neighbor (neither of us could fit 12 meals into our freezers, but we could fit 6 each) and this place is TERRIFIC. The meals are nothing really to blow you away, but you can customize to a limited extent, and if you are as busy as me, it's fabulous knowing there is a full meal ready to go in the house. Kim's goal is to have a hot full meal on the table 30 min (or less) from when you start cooking it- perfect for the after work rush. Kim is wonderful, has been very good to local groups (hosting nights there, etc) and it's fun and social to go w/ someone and put the meals together, have a glass of wine and nibble the biscotti she has out. I'd love to see her busier- I love the concept and I think this has been slow for the word to get out. Tell your friends!!!

      3 Replies
      1. re: lysander
        c
        chompie May 6, 2007 05:13 PM

        good info here. Hubby and I have been thinking of going. We have a coupon from the mail and she said that you can do smaller packs for less people so you dont have to make a lot of the same thing. I liked how she described the way you can alter to taste so it sounds like thats true. Disappointed to hear about the fish though..Since i only eat veggie and fish, that could be a problem. Have you tried other fish there. The other nite I had salmon at Zaleks and cant get over how you dont even know its salmon cuz its so mild and juicy..At 8.95 for that with jasmine rice and a greek salad, now i am not sure its worth going to make a dinner if i can take it from Zaleks? But probably will try things like the shrimp or stuffed bread or calzones etc.. She even said we could bring our own veggie burger stuff to sub for meat..

        1. re: chompie
          Chris VR May 6, 2007 06:13 PM

          The baked scrod was pretty good. I haven't had any more of the salmon but they are in the freezer, so I'll report back to let you know if they are better or the same.

          1. re: chompie
            m
            macmass May 10, 2007 01:58 PM

            I have been here and have tried most of the fish dishes. And the tilapia is always a hit with the family. And they do have a pesto salmon in paper that is delish....The fish I have had, has never been fishy. And if you let Kim know she will find alternatives for you ,whole wheat pastas and such. And if you ever want to sub something just let her know. She does have half meal ordering now. So the price is very reasonable with organic veggies and rice or mashed potatoes. Cheaper than eating out, of course you would still have to put 20 or so minutes of cooking or grilling into it. I've heard she has a "Try-it coupon" out. So just check it out, see what you think...It really saves us alot of time, especially when the grocery stores are so packed.

        2. Chris VR Jan 6, 2008 10:06 AM

          A heads up- I got an email update saying Kim has sold the business to "Entrees Made Easy", which seems to be a national franchise. They're closed for renovations right now and plan to reopen January 22.

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