Wednesday, December 26, 2012

This is NOT a sponsored post: I love pre-assembled meals!

Honestly, this is not a sponsored post. None of the companies mentioned even know that I'm writing a post.

A new year is coming upon us and I know that new years often lead to new goals, including switching jobs. Now, I'm sticking put (I will finish this dissertation!), but I thought I'd talk about a business venture that I have found to be extremely helpful, especially as a work-at-home-mom and one that I think a stay-at-home mom might be able to start as a small business while working from home.

First, I do know how to cook. I want to put that out there. I don't, however, have a very extensive repertoire. My mom started graduate school when I was about 10 or 11 and, as the oldest girl, cooking (laundry, cleaning) fell to me. (Why, yes, I do have 4 older brothers and 2 of them were living at home at the time.) My mostly-Irish family did not have very eclectic tastes and the majority of our dinners were roasts, whole chickens, ghoulash, meatloaf, and various pasta dishes. (Growing up, pasta was always called spaghetti.)  I'll admit that due to all this cooking when younger, I had an aversion to it until I hit my mid-20s, but, even then, I didn't add too many more things to my recipes. Chicken alfredo. Tacos. Yeah, that might be it.

Once H and I moved in together, we tried to blend family recipes and we happily existed on our various staples as well as take-out and eating out.  Fast forward 5 years and we have two little girls, H works full-time, I am writing a dissertation and working part-time. It gets hectic. And then, my sister-in-law suggested Dream Dinners.

Dream Dinner will assemble a meal that takes approximately 30 minutes of prep time at home. We tried it after buying a groupon and, while we felt it was pricey for what it was as well as a little bit of a drive, we did enjoy the variety and ideas for other meals it gave us. On a local yahoo board, we discovered a closer and slightly less expensive company, called The Dinner Shoppe.  After trying them, we have decided to stick with the lasagna/casserole/meals that can be cooked frozen as they require almost no prep time or forethought, which is great when I realize it is 5:30 and I haven't even thought about dinner.  Another tip is to buy the meals for 4-6 people as you either have dinner already for the next night or at least lunch! So now we have our "staples," some pre-assembled meals that are not that much more expensive than buying all the ingredients ourselves, and our crock pot (also a gift from my sister-in-law and another lifesaver). Dinners are mostly sorted in our house!

Any tips or ideas? I know that we could make more over the weekend and freeze them, but we are still trying to get it together to actually do so. We did do that after Q was born.

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