Dream Dinners: The Original Meal Kit Company® was founded upon a mission of bringing families together around the dinner table. Like many meal prep kit services available today, they provide everything you need to put together a delicious dinner with a minimum of effort. You can assemble your meals yourself at a local store, or have meals delivered directly to your doorstep.
What's for Dinner?
That’s the question that Dream Dinners, an innovative concept in meal planning and preparation, hopes to answer. It takes on all the meal planning out of your hands, and moves the meal assembly process out of your kitchen and into their specially equipped stores.
The Dream Dinners Experience
NOTE: This Dream Dinners review focuses primarily on the in-store meal assembly experience.
The Dream Dinners experience begins online, as you preview their changing monthly menu and select from a wide variety of main dish options, and select 3-serving or 6-serving dinners. (There is a minimum order per session of 36 servings.)
Guests then register to attend a meal assembly session at their nearest Dream Dinners store location, and pay for everything online. From there, Dream Dinners does it all for you – shopping, prep work and clean-up. (Whoohoo, Clean-up!)
Guests are asked to bring a box or cooler with them to the Dream Dinners store, and take prepped, uncooked dinners home with them, where they can be refrigerated or frozen until your are ready to make them.
Some time ago, Mr. B and I had the opportunity to attend a bloggers-only event at their Clackamas-Sunnyside location to check out the service first hand.
How the In-Store Meal Prep Process Works
When we arrived for our meal assembly session, Hannah and Katie were on hand to guide us through the process.
Both long-time Dream Dinners team members, they were amazingly friendly and helpful, and seemed to genuinely want us to have a fun experience. (I could imagine Dream Dinners being a great bridal shower or baby shower destination experience.)
After receiving an overview of the services they offered, we washed up and got to work. The facility itself was spotlessly clean, and great attention was paid to proper food-handling practices.
Detailed printed instructions were provided for assembling each of our chosen meals, and we rotated through well-organized refrigerated recipe stations that held all the ingredients we needed.
All the chopping and slicing had been done for us, so all we had to do was measure things out and put it all together.
When the meals were complete, we sealed them in resealable freezer bags, ready to take home and freeze.
Priorities: Convenience over Cost
Although many of the meals are relatively cost-conscious, Dream Dinners is definitely not about saving money. It is more about allowing busy people the opportunity to serve a variety of quality meals to their families.
The prices of menu selections vary, about $28 to $57 for each six-portion entrée [Updated June 2022]. The range includes everything from higher-end steak and seafood dishes to more reasonable chicken dishes. (Based on current menu pricing at the Clackamas-Sunnyside location.)
The actual products we used to assemble our meals were very fresh, and appeared to be of high quality. However, although the recipes had some pretty fancy-sounding names, they weren't particularly unique or extraordinary.
Most of the meals are not a stand-alone, so you will probably want to consider side dishes as well. Dream dinners has a freezer case of prepared side dishes and desserts available for purchase at an additional cost, or you can just supplement at home.
We had the opportunity to taste a few of the offerings at Dream Dinners, including The Chateau Chicken with Almond Butter Sauce. This was one of the meals Mr. B and I chose to make, and it ended up being our favorite of the three meals that we prepared at home.
Dream Dinners Cookbook
To get a better idea of what Dream Dinners offers, you may want to check out their cookbook – Dream Dinners: Turn Dinnertime into Family Time – from your local library.
The cookbook provides 100 recipes for nutritious, family-sized, assemble-and-freeze dinners. You can prepare just one meal, or make enough for three and freeze the extra two for later.
Disappointingly, many of the recipes in the book are not the same ones used for the Dream Dinners service. Also, be advised: the book receives mixed reviews and contains many errors. (So many that there is a revision list on the Dream Dinners website here.)
Nevertheless, there are some tasty-looking recipes in the book to choose from, including a version of one of the meals we prepared during our visit: Arroz con Pollo.
We love Arroz con Pollo, but the Dream Dinners version we prepped during our visit is designed to be layered uncooked and freezer-ready, and simply doesn't deliver the depth of flavor we crave. (Check out our family Arroz con Pollo recipe, which is more in line with our personal tastes and honors authentic Puerto Rican-style Arroz con Pollo preparation.)
Is Dream Dinners for You?
You may want to check Dream Dinners out if you:
- Like the convenience of having everything in one place, ready to assemble.
- Feel as though the hardest part of making dinner is deciding what to make.
- Enjoy interacting with people in this kind of venue. (This was actually my favorite part of the experience. Once again - this would make a great Girl's Night Out.)
- Have a relatively generous grocery budget.
Dream Dinners may not be for you if you:
- Have special dietary needs: gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian and vegan eaters will not find much on the menu at this time.
- Prefer to use only organic ingredients.
- Prefer not to use plastic bags.
- Don’t have a lot of freezer space.
- Are on a tight food budget.
- Are “kitchen-competent” and have the time to shop and prepare meals on your own.
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