koralleen (koralleen) wrote,

Let's Dish!

I like to cook, but I don't cook often. If Victoria didn't have such an awesome babysitter, she would be getting by on cereal, yogurt, and raisins. Brian eats out a lot because he travels. I have foraging skills built upon years of practice. But of course I would like to get everyone who is home at dinnertime seated around the table--it's a nice, civilized practice.

When Let's Dish! opened in Columbia, I signed up to make 12 meals in 2 hours. Each meal is six servings, so I split each meal in half for my now-tiny family. At just over $8 per half-meal I consider this a pretty expensive solution but so far I am pretty happy with the results. The half-meal is actually too much for me, Brian, and Victoria, so I usually score another day's lunch out of it as well. And so far, everything has been delicious.

When you register, you select what meals you want to make from a menu of about 16 items. When you get there, they have a list printed out for you. You get an apron and a bandana and a lecture about handwashing between every station, then you go about assembling meals. Each station has all the ingredients for one meal. You assemble everything in either aluminum foil pans or plastic freezer bags. You slap a sticker with heating directions on it, wrap it in another plastic layer, and put it in their fridge to stay cool while you work on the rest of your order. There is a little coffee bar with snacks and drinks on one side of the room--you can take breaks if you like, but I didn't have time for breaks and I'm not a real friendly type of person anyhow. There's music you can just hear over the hubbub of happy dishers: the night I was there, our greeter explained that they were supposed to have XM radio, but it wasn't working. We listened to the CDs that she had collected from the floor of her car instead. It was fine.

When you've made everything you're supposed to make, you put it all in a cooler or laundry basket (they recommend these containers; I brought a big cardboard box, which worked ok, too) and bring it home to your freezer. Although this warning does not appear in their literature, I would say that you should have more freezer space than the usual top-of-the-fridge box. It is a lot of food--a full laundry basket full. Preparation at home is simple, either bake stuff in the oven or heat on top of the stove, mostly. I used a slow cooker for the "sirloin tips with vegetables in merlot sauce" but there was an oven option for that if you don't have a slow cooker.

So with all this, you have to add a salad or something similar, but then you have a meal. A much nicer one than we've been used to eating, if we ate together at all. I signed up to go again in January, but with the 8-meal (16, really) option since we're going to be out of town a lot the first two months of the year.

There. That's my Let's Dish! story.

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