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Better Eating for Lazy People

About a month ago, while visting a kitchen and bath remodeling store (don't ask), Kathleen and I noticed that, sharing the parking lot, there was an outlet of Designed Dinners. Kathleen had read about them, but the concept was new to me: pay these guys $185 and get the ingredients for 12 entrees for four people each.

Before you arrive, a chef has done essentially all of the prep work, including creating any sauces, toppings, marinades, etc., and the results are set up at a number of refrigerated serving stations. You show up and move from station to station, pulling the indicated amount of each ingredient and putting it into one or more Ziploc bags, as described in the sign over each station. You tag all of your bags with the preprinted labels they provide (each of which includes full cooking instructions for the dish) and then pile them all up in a box to take home to your freezer. The whole selection process takes about an hour and a half in a very friendly atmosphere, with complementary wine, cheese, and cookies, and several other customers to chat with. There's plenty of hand-holding for those who need it; it's a very service-oriented establishment.

For those with families smaller than four people, they offer the option of "splitting" each entree into two packagings, with two servings each. Some dishes can't be split (like casseroles or roasts), but most can.

It's pretty convenient and, we've found, helps make it easy to eat a wider variety of food at home. There's nothing there that we couldn't have made ourselves (given a recipe), but the thing is, we never would have. We're just not sufficiently motivated about cooking to put this kind of thing together (or to spend the necessary prep time).

On a scale of one to three, we've rated almost every dish we've eaten so far with two stars. The only exception was a fettuccine where they didn't recommend pulling enough sauce. Nothing's been worth three stars, but a steady diet of twos is pretty good.

The biggest problem with this program is finding enough room in your freezer.


Not a bad idea. Too bad the menu is all meat, though.