Big, fluffy, chewy, and oh so amazing peanut butter cookies studded with chocolate and peanut butter, and kept in the freezer until ready to bake.
Winner, winner, I found solutions for dinner, and dessert.
Haha, most of the year dinner is not a problem for me, after all, it is part of my job to cook. Right? And I enjoy it. But even when you enjoy cooking, it doesn’t mean you love all the work and hassle that goes into preparing meals every single night.
The cooking part is not even the part I don’t love doing every night. It is the planning, the shopping, the cutting and chopping, oh and the dishes…hate the dishes.
I used to think I hated laundry the most. And while I am still not a fan, dishes are creeping up on my “not much love” list. Anyway, that is where my dinner solution comes in. It is Dream Dinners. You may remember it from this post: Cheesy Garlic Bread
I was invited to be part of the Dream Dinners Summer Experiment, and part of that experiment included going into their location and making dinners. So today I thought I would tell you about it.
Step one is done at home. It involves ordering what meals you want. Dream Dinners has a website where the monthly menu is featured. You can read what the meal is, see a photo, and even see if it is a customer favorite. There are lots of options from chicken, beef, seafood, pork, and meat free. Check it out at DreamDinners.com. Anyway, you go on and pick your meals and how many servings 3 or 6.
Then you go into the store with an empty cooler. When you first get there one of the employees will greet you, and get you started. You will wash your hands, get an apron, and your meal instruction cards. They will show you where to place your assembled meals, and give you a brief overview of the process.
Then you assemble. They have recipe cards with instructions for 3 or 6 servings, so you start by making sure you are reading the instructions for the correct serving amount. There are bags in different sizes, and everything is clearly marked.
Then you assemble according to directions. It is very easy to do as everything is already out and they have measuring spoons and cups in each bucket according to the proper amounts. So it goes quick. I was able to assemble all 6 of my meals in under 30 minutes.
You put the meals in the bags, add your instruction card, and put it in the freezer until you have finished.
Then you put everything in your cooler and check out. At this point you can order for the following month, and set up a time to come in too, which makes it super easy to get it scheduled.
They offer samples of menu items for the upcoming month that you can try in store, and have “Finishing Touches” and sides that you can add to your order to enhance your meal. These are already made so you just grab them and pay.
They also have the option of Fast Lane ordering where the meals are pre-assembled for you. Only some meals come this way, but for an additional fee you can get all of your meals assembled if you really don’t want to do it yourself.
Basically it is quick, easy, and the messes aren’t at your house.
This month I made Chicken Risotto, Bueno Steak Tacos, French Tarragon Chicken, A french bread sandwich, and Beach Street Shrimp Pasta. They were all very good.
I kept 3 of the meal in my fridge at a time so they would be defrosted and ready to use when I was ready for them. It was funny because the first week we ate four of them, we had more nights at home, and it was so convenient to have dinner ready to go. It really saved me from eating out. And I had the freezer cookies, so we also had a treat on hand!
The next week we had plans, a few nights when we were out at various activities, and a few blog posts that were dinner foods, so we only used two of them. But it was so great to have them.
It also helped me cut down on our grocery bill. I bought breakfast foods, used up stuff we already had for lunches, and bought produce and snacks.
I ordered Bountiful Baskets which are a local food coop and they cost $15 each. I ordered of those to cover my produce for the week. Bought milk, bread, eggs, some cheese, cereal (for the kids), and a few snack foods for our days out. For the two week period I spent about $250 in grocery.
The cost of the Dream Dinners was around $200, so my upfront expense may seem high at $450 for a family of 6 for 2 weeks. But something awesome happened, I went to the store WAY less because I did not start dinner and realize I was missing this or that. And we ate at home a lot more. Which saved big bucks on eating out and eating junk food. And we wasted way less food.
That amount may seem high, but as a food blogger I often spend as much as $1500 a month on groceries, so for me this was a substantial savings.
An added benefit was the fact that we ate dinner as a family and I was actually happy. Sometimes I get really frustrated with my family while I am making dinner. I am busy working on feeding them and they are making messes, fighting, etc. With the Dream Dinners, the meals were super easy to make, and took only a few minutes of my time, freeing my time up to spend with my kids and husband, and we still got to eat as a family with a happy mom.
The one thing I did not buy from Dream Dinners, but could have, was desserts. I was thinking I was going to try and be really good and not eat any treats this summer. That has not worked. So I decided to take a half an hour one afternoon and whip up some cookie dough I could keep in the freezer, and just pull out one at a time to make cookies. And after the amazing Peanut Butter Bliss Bars I made recently, I was in a peanut butter mood, so I went with a peanut butter freezer cookie that I filled with mini peanut butter filled chocolate candies. Yum!
Peanut Butter Cookies (Freezer Dough)
- ½ cup butter softened
- 1 cup peanut butter creamy (not all-natural)
- ¼ cup white granulated sugar
- ¾ cup + 1 Tbs dark brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour spooned into measuring cups
- 3/4 cup chocolate peanut butter candies reese's pieces (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a stand mixer, combine butter, peanut butter, white granulated sugar, and dark brown sugar and mix until smooth and creamy.
- Add in the large egg and vanilla, mixing at a medium speed.
- In a separate large mixing bowl whisk together baking soda, salt, and flour. Note: Be sure to spoon the flour into the measuring cup, not scoop it in, as this can change the volume of flour and consistency of the cookies.)
- Slowing incorporate dry ingredients into stand mixer, continuing to mix until fully combined.
- Fold in the chocolate peanut butter candies
- Shape into 1 and ½ inch balls and arrange on a lined baking sheet.
- Slightly flatten each ball of dough with a fork.
- At this point, freeze for 1-2 hours, then transfer into a zip top bag to use for later, or Bake 8-9 minutes in preheated oven.
- Bake 9-11 minutes, until edges are golden brown and centers are soft but not jiggly.
Our recipe card software calculates these nutrition facts based on averages for the above ingredients, different brands, and quality of produce/meats may have different nutritional information, always calculate your own based on the specific products you use in order to achieve accurate macros for this recipe.