My husband and I have been discussing way to get meals on the table more efficiently. We want to avoid processed foods, so we were thinking homemade meal kits. My friend told me about Dream Dinners, so we decided to try it.
Last week, I registered for a Dream Dinners introductory offer, which would include 18 servings of food. Since I have a few picky eaters in our family, I spent some time going through the various meals to see what ingredients they contained, and settled on Loaded BBQ Pulled Pork Bites, Rosemary Smokehouse Turkey Burgers, Outlaw Chicken Marinara, and Chicken Yakitori. All of the meals contained ingredients and flavors that my family was familiar with so I was comfortable with my selections. The meals also came out to an average of $4.16 per serving, so this was a great replacement for take out.
Dream Dinners has an impressive set-up. The shop was very clean and well organized with two recipes at each station. I had assistance building my first recipe, and then completed the others on my own. In 1-hour, I had four meal kits, and I didn’t have to clean up, which was great!
Something I noticed while I was there … none of the proteins were “clean” proteins. For example, the chicken for the Chicken Yakitori, was a precooked and sliced chicken breast that was frozen when I arrived. The turkey burger recipe used frozen turkey burgers instead of plain ground turkey. The Outlaw Chicken Marinara used breaded frozen chicken that resembles chicken fingers you’d get from the diner. The pulled pork was the only protein that wasn’t frozen, but it was precooked.
I was bummed because I had expected to be making meal kits with fresh ingredients. On my way home, I had already called to tell my husband that I wasn’t planning to go back and I’m glad we only purchased the trial of 18 servings, and not a full 36 servings that is usually required. When I arrived home, we popped the meals into the freezer, and figured we would still give them a try. Maybe the frozen proteins weren’t that bad, and we’d still get meals on the table faster and for less money than ordering take out.
Last night, we tried the first meal – Chicken Yakitori over Jasmine Rice. I tossed a bag of frozen Asian veggies in the microwave while I cooked to round out the meal. Issue #1: The rice they gave me wasn’t Jasmine rice. I only buy Jasmine rice, and this did not have that flavor, or texture when cooked. It reminded me more of regular Carolina rice, which is perfectly fine, but it is less expensive, and has a different flavor. Issue #2 & #3: Steve commented that the sauce was a bit sweet for him, and I thought the dish was salty.
When we were finished dinner, Steve put the meal into My Fitness Pal, and he got a pop up about keeping his daily sodium intake to under 2000mg. That’s when I pulled up the full nutritional information on the dish. A 1-cup serving of chicken and sauce had 340 calories, 13g of fat, 27g of carbohydrates, and a whopping 1250mg of sodium! Holy cannoli! That is a lot of salt!
I then went through the nutritional information on all of the meals that we prepared and they range from 1100 mg of sodium to 2270 mg of sodium per serving! I can have fast food for a similar calorie count and less sodium!
We decided right then and there, we will not be going back to Dream Dinners. Even if we absolutely love the other 3 meals, there is no way we can continue to knowingly have that much sodium in a single serving. So now I’m back to the drawing board on creating meal kits for the freezer. I’m going to be checking out a few websites over the next week. Hopefully, I can come up with something on my own that will meet my family’s needs.
This week’s meal plan
Monday: Chicken Yakitori over Jasmine Rice (Dream Dinners)
Tuesday: Grilled Chicken Sandwiches, Quinoa Salad
Wednesday: Steak, Baked Sweet Potatoes, Veggies
Thursday: Homemade Breakfast Sausage, Eggs, Buttermilk Biscuits
Friday: Rosemary Smokehouse Turkey Burgers on Pretzel Buns (Dream Dinners)
Saturday: Crockpot Pulled Pork Sandwiches, Asian Coleslaw, Chips
Sunday: Leftover Lottery
Beyond the Meal Plan
I plan on canning tomatoes, and freezing zucchini. I am also going to make homemade breakfast sausage with a pork loin that I have in the freezer. If the weather cooperates, we are going to make another batch of Mock Apple Crisp with some of the zucchini.
What’s on your meal plan for this week?
Happily Homegrown participates in Menu Plan Monday.