Wednesday, June 27, 2007

For shame.

Allow me to disgrace myself in all your baking/cooking/gourmeting eyeballs by telling you that I've been going to those group meal assembly type places and putting together dinners for Bubba and I.

Oh yes. I'm one of *those* people.

I finally gave in after a week of dinners that looked like; popcorn, gin, Taco Bell, nothing and delivery pizza. Actually, that was Monday through Friday, respectively.

I used to wonder about people who went to these places and regard them in not nice ways. Like, come on, is it SO hard to organize one meal per day (assuming the only meal you eat together is dinner, like us. Because, in my mind, everyone is just like us.)?

And then I'd do something as unsavory as borrow the much-hated, "Must be nice" mentality from our sourpuss neighbors and write *those people* off as some such rich spoiled bastards who can actually afford such luxuries as pre-minced ginger and fancy condiments like pomegranate extract (Who knew this existed? Tell me.) which you'd never buy at the store because, like, when am I going to use a whole bottle of it anyway.

But, that was when I had the wherewithal to put together a weekly dinner menu, corresponding shopping list, evenings free of work obligations and Dog Needing Walk and the energy to go to the store after work in my pinchy heels.

Let's just say that time is not so free flowing these days and people started to not smile when presented with the same dinner options every night; "I don't know", "Let's go out" or "I'm going to eat popcorn while I work from the couch."

Not that everyone wasn't understanding, he was, but I was starting to feel guilty about sustaining our household on booze and takeout alone.

Then a brainchild who I endlessly adore from work suggested that all we busy girls go to one of these put-it-together-yourself-from-recipes-that-you-don't-have-to-cook-up-in-your-own-fried-brain places so that we could rest our weary selves at the end of the day while not having to compromise the health of our households to do so.



It appears there's some variety in the way these places are organized and the edibility of food you finally end up with. The experiences I've had so far have begun to add a dose of reality to the shiny perfect Stepford-esque candy shells which these places portray.

And I'm prepared to make side-by-side comparisons.

Including all the not-as-great details because, well, I'm not being paid to be anyone's Meal Assembly Spokesbitch, so I can tell you exactly what I think. And I can use bad words. HA!

Interested? Or have I just wandered off into "Hello, we're so sophisticated and we always make gourmet, local, organic, wheat and gluten free meals for our adoring household despite our full-time jobs and long-held posts with Junior League" land?

Your call.


  1. OH, give us the dish!

  2. Gin and popcorn. That sounds like a good meal. I'm totally in for the details!

  3. I'm up for it, although cereal always works for dinner for me! ;) I've gone to one of those places once (and was so sneaky as to jot down the recipe so I'd have it for later). My friend has mentioned trying another, so I 'd love to hear what your experience has been.

  4. I've thought about it a couple times, but with two picky child eaters, it's not worth it right now. Would love to try it for myself so that woudl be one thing I didn't hae to worry about at the end of the day.

  5. Sounds like my standard "beer and a cold tortilla out of the fridge" meal isn't so unique after all... I'll be sure to let hubby know, just as soon as I get back from my Junior League committee meeting. =)

  6. Let's have it! I have the full time job, but not the junior league. And I definitely have the boring, repetitive weekday meals -- mostly 'cause it's easier to keep track of intake that way. So...go ahead -- bust up all of our preconceived notions!

  7. You can't write a whole post about this and NOT give us the breakdown. I've actually been thinking about doing this (tonight I had peanut butter crackers and dried fruit for dinner...definitely not good) and would really like to hear about your experiences. Thanks!

  8. I could never go to one of those places. It would be way too expensive to make enough food for my family. And my husband and children are picky. My friend was investing in one of those companies. I'd love to hear your take on them.

  9. Bring it, Finny! So far, what I've heard about these places hasn't compelled me to try it myself. But don't start the review yet - I have to finish making my pomegranate extract for next week.

    And, not for nothing, I'm a fan of the popcorn dinner. The man of the house? Not so much. Nor does he care for a meal of sourdough toast. Sheesh.

  10. I've been to one here in Albuquerque twice and I have been really pleased with the dinners that I made. What is cool is that since there are only 3 of u, I can split the dinner in two and get twice the meals for my money. It comes out to $8.00 a meal for us - which is still a little high, but considering that I'd spend at least $10-12 on fast food, and the time savings is so worth it too!! It makes for a much happier mommy when I finally get home after my 45 minute commute. Wow this is a long comment...sorry!!! But wait I have more - I've done freezer meals at home too which is a lot of fun. I have a book of recipes that I've collected and copies from freezer meal books I've gotten at the library. You spend less money, but it takes A LOT more all day to make 12 different dinners as opposed to one hour.

  11. I used to think the same thing about those places. Until I got desperate and tried it. I also discovered that I saved money - I'm not grocery shopping every week intending to make dinners and then tossing most of it when I work too late to make dinner and it spoils. I'd be interested to hear your reviews!

  12. Ok--I need a name or something cuz I have no idea what this even is. Maybe I'll try a google search for assembly meals?

  13. learoport - coming soon!

    AK - knew you would be. And thank you for supporting my gin and popcorn diet. I like it very much.

    K - so far I've only been to two, but I'm willing to continue the dishing if I make it to a third.

    Sharon - Yeah, I'm not sure that these places would work well for just one diner, but maybe something to ask from your local meal assembly shop.

    zarah - ha! yes, booze and carbs are quite the dining experience. I find that the husband is much happier when there is a protein and vegetable to go with his Makers Mark.

    Thimbleanna - busting coming shortly...

    Stephanie - OK! I was thinking that I'd like to have seen some sort of honest breakdown too, before I started in on it. So stay tuned...

    Lera - Honestly, it's been cheaper than I thought, but with a lot of tiny mouths it might be hard to get everyone to be happy with one type of meal. Either way, story to come...

    Meg - Sourdough toast? Now *there's* an idea!

    Raesha - Yeah, I considered, briefly, the freezer meal thing - but we don't do casseroles in our house so good and I saw a lot of those in there. Plus, I don't do carbs and I saw lots of lasagna type things. Either way - I can't be spending a day making all these meals - time time time!!

    Aimee - I have a lot of the same feelings on the subject. Stay tuned...

    dmarie - Actually, I didn't even know what the blanket term was for these places until I Googled it. That's where I came up with "Meal Assembly Franchise". Don't worry, I'll be naming names shortly.


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