What’s Cooking?

I love to cook…always have. And I’m a stay at home mom, so I usually have the time to plan, shop and prepare tasty and healthy meals for my family. So I’m not exactly the target audience for the meals programs I love; Dinner Studio, Dream Dinners and, now, Relish. Yet, I love to use them to give myself a break and to introduce new menu items to my family.

I guess I’m not alone. Even in this recession, personal chef and menu planning services have seen an increase in business.

Whether you are a cooking mom like me, or one who could use a lot of help because you’re too busy, don’t enjoy cooking or don’t know how to prepare meals that will satisfy the whole family, there are great support options out there!

Last weekend I returned to Dream Dinners after a long hiatus. Although the meals are always delicious and even reasonably priced given the savings in planning, shopping and chopping time, I find their required minimum of 36 servings per order annoying. For our family, that means 12 separate meals to squeeze into our always tight freezer space. Splitting the meals with a friend is a great option, but only one person is allowed to assemble the meals, which is also slightly annoying. Anyway, I had stopped using Dream Dinners for those reasons until last weekend when their Herb Crusted Flank Steak called me back. I bought two because they are that good.

I almost skipped purchasing their chicken and sausage paella because I have made a pretty mean paella ever since the “one pot wonders” class I took at Great News Cooking School 10 years ago. But the Dream Dinners’ version was so awesome that I wish, wish, wish I had purchased more than one 3-serving meal.

Because it’s a national chain, Dream Dinner franchisees are not able to respond to requests for favorites or even tell you when the meal you’re craving will be back on the menu. But not to worry, every single month you’ll find something you love and something you may even try to recreate in your own kitchen. I may not be able to buy paella this month, but I know the chicken risotto on the September menu is just as yummy so I’ll be purchasing several servings!

If you want to save time on planning, shopping, chopping AND let someone else prepare the delicious meals for you AND then deliver them to your doorstep then you’d better call Dinner Studio. This locally owned, family business used to allow you to assemble your own meals. But the company has changed its focus over the years so that they do all of the work and you just sit back and enjoy. 🙂

I love the owners, Josh and Gloria, for their talent, their great personalities and their flexibility. Whether you want one meal or twenty, you’ll get excellent quality and service with a smile. They welcome special requests, will let you know when that meal you’ve been daydreaming of will be back on the menu, and did I mention they deliver for only $5 to almost anywhere in San Diego County?

Of all the fabulous Dinner Studio meals I’ve enjoyed over the years, the meatball subs that are on the current menu are truly a family favorite. Keep reading to find out how you can win these mouthwatering sandwiches for your family. And be sure to check out their awesome new customer promotion where you can have 15 dinners assembled and delivered to your home for only $59!

At just $7 a month, a membership to Relish is the least expensive meal-service option of the three, but no one’s going to shop, chop or deliver. That’s all you, baby. What the service does offer is healthy menus, complete shopping lists tailored to your family and lots of print-from-home grocery coupons that nearly wipe out the membership fee.

For a mom like me, Relish is a great option because I really do love to cook and to be able to have complete control…to add a little bit more of this, take out a little of that…. Plus, I want to be able to pass cooking skills onto my children, and there’s no better way to inspire a love of cooking in kids than to have them help you prepare meals that they actually enjoy eating. The Relish meals are simple and quick…30 minutes or less! I can sort through recipes by type (kid-friendly, slow cooker, etc.) and each recipe includes a calorie count and other nutritional information. There are also gluten free options and freezer meal recipes.

Check out the awesome grocery list that accompanies the recipes I selected for this week. It really simplified the shopping. I selected recipes for menu items I’d never prepared before, and let me just say that the chicken fried steak was AWESOME!

Ok, now for the real fun. I want you to win your choice of a 3-serving meal from Dream Dinners or Dinner Studio or a free month of Relish membership, and I’ll be giving out two of each prize. To enter to win, please post a recipe link for or just the name of your family’s favorite meal to the mom’s guide on Facebook. Winners will be announced on September 24th, so chop chop!

3 thoughts on “What’s Cooking?

  1. Brandi Smith says:

    I am loving the dream dinners I got from all of you ladies. It has been so nice to just pull something from the freezer and have it n the table for dinner in just a few minutes. We will be using them again for sure.

  2. Kari R. says:

    This is our favorite to make: Vegetarian Tortilla Soup. My sister makes a non-vegetarian version with chicken stock and chicken covered in taco seasoning.

    http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/vegetarian-tortilla-soup/detail.aspx

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