Friday night was this skeptic’s introduction to a relatively new concept in home cooking. Well, actually, it doesn’t take place in your “home” or anyone’s home. The place is Simply Dish in Wall Township and it brings the best of both worlds together. Think about it this way, home cooked meals meets girls night out. How is that possible? You’ve just got to experience it, that’s all I can say.
These very happy ladies spent their Friday night sipping wine, noshing on hor douvres and catching up with friends while they prepared two week’s worth of dinners for their families.
As the ring leader, Liz, from Point Pleasant put it. “I don’t know what I’d do without this place. If it ever shut down I think I’d have to go into some kind of therapy.”
This group comes on a monthly basis. They had quite a bit to say about how much they loved everything about Simply Dish, the convenience, the quality of food, and they were quick to gush about their favorite dishes. As you can see in this photo, several of the moms brought their teenage daughters along. The girls seemed to really enjoy themselves and they were learning to cook in the process. (Hmmm, this may be a good idea for my boys?)
Simply Dish is quite simply, a place to prepare 6, 9, or 12 meals for your family in a matter of 90 minutes or less. Each meal feeds between 4 and 6 people depending on their appetites. You select your menu and pay in advance online. Show up at the store on your designated day or night, and a printed menu is waiting for you. All the ingredients; spices, chopped veggies, meat ect. are waiting at their stations. Locate your menu selection and follow the directions for assembly, its that simple. All the meals are packed into zip lock baggies. Stick the cooking instructions on the bag and pop it into the freezer when you get home.
The menu changes on a monthly basis, this month selections are based on “Top Picks from Customers.” You can click here to check out their entire menu and the associated fees for each plan. It may seem costly at first glance; $249 for 12 meals. But if you look at what it costs per serving, $3.45, for healthy, fresh ingredients and a variety many home cooks probably never consider on their own, I think its a real bargain. (Isn’t $3.45 less than a happy meal these days? I don’t know I haven’t bought one in a while.)
Since the recipe comes with 6 chicken breasts and I was only feeding myself and Peter, I was told I could split the recipe and freeze the other half for no extra charge. Worked for me. The only trick is paying attention and remembering to halve all the ingredients, dividing them equally into two zip lock bags. The dry ingredients, bread crumbs, parmesan cheese went in one baggy. The wet ingredients; buttermilk, honey, mustard went in another baggy. A bag of frozen carrots came with the meal and, that was it, I had two dinners ready to cook or freeze, or both.
I decided to go home and give the Buttermilk Chicken a try. It couldn’t have been any more simple. Double dunk the chicken in the wet and dry ingredients, which are already mixed in the baggies, place on a cookie sheet and back at 400 degrees. I put some brown rice on the stove to go with and in about 40 minutes we had a delicious and healthy meal. The beauty is, I’ve got another meal in the freezer for another night.
You can find Simply Dish on Route 35 in Wall Township, right next to Pier One and in Middletown in the Union Square Shopping Center. The owner of the Wall location, Kevin Mahon, was an original customer of the Middletown store and loved the concept and the food so much, he decided to open a franchise of his own.
There are three options for filling your freezer at Simply Dish. The DIY approach, in-store sessions where you go in, grab an apron and assemble your meals. The second they call “Dished For You” – where for an additional $25 the staff at Simply Dish will assemble your menu picks and have them ready for you for pick up. And, the third option, is what you see happening in the photos above, a private party. Get a group of 10 or more friends together, and you’ll have the whole place to yourselves, not to mention, three free meals for each participant.
There are so many ways you can use Simply Dish, in addition to feeding your own family. The first thought that came to my mind was helping out someone who is recovering from an illness or just needs a helping hand. Get a group of ten friends together. You can all donate one or more meals that you create to the loved one in need and still walk away with a freezer full of food for yourself.
And, with the economy in the you know what, especially here in New Jersey, I think folks are looking for gift ideas that are both thoughtful and practical. Simply Dish meets both these requirements. So, I hope you’ll give this brilliant new concept a try. And please, if you do, tell them JerseyBites sent you and I hope you’ll email us about your experience.