Mothers (and a few dads) across the world every night have to answer the age-old question "What's for Dinner?"
For working parents, answering and acting upon it has become an ever-increasing stress and time-consuming chore. Unfortunately for many Americans, they chose to grab dinner from fast-food chains or take-out from nearby restaurants on their way home from work, which over time is not the healthiest choice.
There is an alternative to takeout that's not exactly homemade, but it's as close as you can get. Over the past few years, meal assembly specialty stores and franchises have been popping up across America. The idea behind these meal assembly places is to save families time and money while still serving their families a healthy "home-cooked" meal.
How it works is you select several meals from a monthly menu, which changes every month, you then schedule the date that you want to go into the store, and on that day you show up and spend between one and two hours assembling your meals at different meal assembly stations, which you then take home and put in your freezer. The average person makes between ten and 12 meals that feed a family of four to six people.
For the next few weeks, you don't have to worry about what to make for dinner, what food to buy at the grocery store or waste time preparing and cooking meals. You simply thaw, cook and eat. The meals generally take between 15 to 30 minutes to cook with no hassle of prepping food or much clean up. You're in and out of the kitchen in less than 30 minutes in most cases.
Here are just four, of many, that you may want to check out:
- Dream Dinners, headquartered in Snohomish, Washington, is a nationwide meal assembly franchise that currently has more than 200, opened or soon to open, franchise stores across the country. The company was started by working mothers Stephanie Allen and Tina Kuna in March 2002 with a series of large-scale meal assembly sessions that grew into Dream Dinners. The duo opened their first store in June 2002 and within six months branched out with two more stores in the Seattle area and grew quickly thereafter. For more information or to book a session visit: www.dreamdinners.com.
- My Girlfriend's Kitchen (MGFK), headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, is a nationwide meal assembly franchise that currently has 62, opened or soon to open, franchise stores across the country. The company was started by Jennifer Jackenthal and Marcia Hales in February 2003 in Jackenthal's Park City, UT kitchen. The pair opened their first store in Salt Lake City in October 2004 and is continuing to see growth in their business. For more information or to book a session visit: www.mgfk.com.
- Super Suppers, headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, is a nationwide meal assembly franchise that currently has more than 200, opened or soon to open, franchise stores across the country. The company was started by Judie Byrd, founder of the Culinary School of Fort Worth where the concept for Super Suppers was born and its first store opened in 2003. For more information or to book a session visit: www.supersuppers.com.
Today, there are nearly 500 meal assembly businesses across the country with most only having one to two stores. The two largest meal assembly businesses are Dream Dinners and Super Suppers, both with more than 200 stores. Other meal assembly franchise stores that have more than ten locations include Dinner by Design, Entrees Made Easy, Entree Vous, and mealMAKERS.
If you haven't experienced one of these meal assembly stores, I highly recommend that you give it a try, especially if you're a busy mom. I guarantee that it will make your work week a lot easier. As you drive home from work you won’t be stressing over what to have for dinner.