Sunday, March 7, 2010

Weekend Cooking: In Which I Dish About "Let's Dish!"

For more than a year now, I've glanced over at the storefront for "Let's Dish!" It's in the same shopping center where my supermarket of choice is located, and it's that kind of place where you often find yourself saying, "I've really got to check that out someday." 

My friend N. is a regular and raves about it so much that eavesdroppers could mistake us for shooting a commercial. (Which this blog post, by the way, most definitely is not. I'm simply a very happy customer who has not been compensated in any way, shape, or form in exchange for my effusive praise of this place.)

If you're not familiar with the "Let's Dish!" concept, here's how it works. They have pre-selected menus listed online and which change monthly. You schedule your choice of times for a "session," select your menu choices, and pay for them. (I'll get into that in a bit.) All online. Then, you go to "Let's Dish!" to assemble your meals. They give you a printout with your meal selections, and various stations (like a salad bar) are set up for each dish. All you have to do is go to the appropriate station/s, follow the directions (everything is already chopped, measuring spoons and cups are at the ready, etc.) and assemble your meals, which you then store in bags for freezing at home. 

This all takes approximately two hours (they give you hors d'oeurves and samples and wine as you work your way through your selected menus.)  It's all very clean, organized, and easy. Kind of a stress-reliever, in a way.

A few weeks ago, N. scheduled a "Let's Dish!" party and invited me. I chose to make Vegetarian Lo Mein, Fish Tacos with Corn Salsa, Ranch Chicken Tenders with Jo Jo Potatoes (for the kids), and Tilapia Pomodoro. You have to select your meals in quantities of 4,8, or 12 dishes; since I was a newbie at this, I started with 4 meals.  Each of the meals has six servings, which is a lot for our family, so I opted to "split" each meal.  By making 4 meals and splitting the portions, I effectively made 8 meals.

(And I thought I would never need this kind of high-falutin' math.  Does this make any sense?  If not, the How It Works video on the Let's Dish website explains it in :58 seconds.)

As of tonight, we've now tried all the meals I made ... and The Husband and I loved ALL of them. (The kids liked the Ranch Chicken and Jo Jo Potatoes best, which I thought would be the case.) This is a very big deal, because The Husband tends to like the same several dishes, and isn't much of a fish eater. So for him to give high praise to these is HUGE.

The 4 meals (which became 8 ... and in my case, closer to 12 because there were even leftovers in some cases) cost me $105. I'll be honest and admit that, at first, this seemed pricey to me. I think that's what deterred me from initially trying it out.  But it forced me to do some serious meal planning that week, and even into the next week or so when I knew there were evenings when a Let's Dish! meal would be convenient.

I intended these dinners to be ones for nights when I was too tired to cook, or nights when I would have taken the kids to McDonalds or ordered pizza, or nights when I was working late and needed something fast and easy for dinner. That mindset helped me justify the cost in my mind. I also had to get over the notion of paying for these dinners in advance - and my friend N. pointed out to me that this is what we do every week when grocery shopping, isn't it?

If you have a Let's Dish! near you (there are locations in Delaware, Maryland, Minnesota, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Washington), I highly recommend trying them out!  The two hours flies by (and you get them back tenfold because the dinner prep on those nights you "cook" a Let's Dish! meal at home is greatly reduced) and most likely you would be otherwise be spending close to the cost of the meals in crappy food. You're feeding your family a much healthier dinner, and - if you're like us - something different that just might become a new favorite.

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copyright 2010, Melissa (Betty and Boo's Mommy, The Betty and Boo Chronicles) If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.


JoAnn said...

We had a similar place about 25 minutes away.... unfortunately they closed before I got to check it out. So glad your family liked the meals!

Melissa said...

I'm afraid of the same thing happening to our Let's Dish, JoAnn, which is one of the reasons my friend coordinated a party. The economy certainly hasn't been kind to these kinds of businesses (or any business, really) which seem to be dependent on consumers with a certain level of discretionary income ... kind of a catch-22. I'm hoping they are able to hang on a little longer and ride this out.

Heather said...

what a timely post. Hubby and I have been discussing doing this. We have a different store/kitchen near us that we have been considering. Actually, I'd like him to go and do it. Its a bit pricier, but we only have 3 people so also could split the meals. I am going to send him the link to your review so he can read your helpful comments. Thanks.