Law School
Frugality
Personal Finance
Productivity
Nutrition

“Super Suppers:” Not So Super

Well Mrs. FLS is back with a post while Brett slogs through his finals. It will unsurprisingly again be about food, as this is a huge part of our budget, and the part I am primarily responsible for.

pick-up-pic1.jpg

When Brett finally arrives home from law school at 9:00, he is naturally quite hungry and ready for some grub. As his loving and devoted wife, I try to make dinner for him every night during the week. I actually rather like cooking, although I have to admit that the process of finding new recipes, making a grocery list, shopping, chopping, sautéing, and baking is rather time consuming. Apparently many American women feel this way, and this grievance has birthed a whole new industry: “The Assemble-Your-Own Meals” store.

The concept is thus: each month the store has a menu of different meals to choose from. You show up at the store and choose which entrees you wish to assemble. The store is set up with numerous stations with the ingredients and utensils ready, you follow the instructions and throw some things together, and in a hour you have assembled a week’s worth or more of meals. The meals can then be taken home, frozen, and simply popped in the oven or saucepan on any given night. It sounds like a neat idea, but I was not that impressed when I gave it a test run.

For Christmas my parents gave my sister and I a gift certificate to “Super Suppers” for a week’s worth of meals. A cute gift idea I must say. So little sis and I went and gave it a whirl. In less than an hour we had 4 dinners to take home with us. Here is my review:

Pros:

-The biggest advantage is of course having dinner ready to go and waiting in the freezer. It is a nice feeling

-The other advantage is that there are almost no dirty dishes. Many entrees bake right in the pan they give you, so clean up is a cinch.
-The meals are no culinary delights, but they were generally pretty tasty.

Cons:

-The price. A meal designed for 2 people costs around $10. That is $5 a serving! Less than going out to a sit down restaurant I guess, but more than a frozen dinner, and way more than a homemade meal.

-Of course people are willing to pay more for something that saves them a lot of time, and that is supposedly the big draw of these places. But the thing is…you really don’t save that much time either! The meals you make are pretty simple. For example one of them was a bag of hoagie rolls, some frozen meatballs in a bag with tomato sauce, and a bag of cheese. You just assemble the sandwich and bake em. You still have to assemble them at home yourself, and with 5 extra minutes, you could have bought the same ingredients to do so at the store. Other meals, you could also easily duplicate yourself with only an additional 15-20 minutes and for a fraction of the cost.

-Cooking is fun and creative. Yes it takes work, but there is really something special about creating something with your hands, and having someone else enjoy it. Sticking something in the oven just doesn’t give you that sense of satisfaction.

The Bottom Line: Save your money, because you won’t save all that much time. If you are pressed for time, check out Rachel Ray’s 30 minute cookbooks. Lots of great recipes that won’t leave you slaving in the kitchen. Or, some people swear by the idea of “once-a month-cooking.”

[tags] Super Suppers, food, dinner[/tags]