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January 14, 2008

No designs on being Julia Child

J0237684 Mommy guilt manifests itself in many ways. For me, one of the biggest is at dinner time.

Cooking has never been my cup of tea. It always seemed more of a chore than anything else. My mom often worked second shift, thus many a day she left work by the time we were getting out of school. My dad would be home soon after and by the time I was 12, cooking dinner was part of me pulling my weight. My younger sister throughly enjoyed seeing me struggle with cooking. Her perfect older sister couldn't make rice? Ha!

During the decade I spent child-free after leaving my parents home, I did some cooking, but rarely attempted to do more than easy pasta dishes occasionally adding chicken. When I got pregnant I thought that I'd be better. We'd eat balanced meals including more vegetables. I have to say that compared to our child-free days, I'm doing better. But not good enough.

My husband & I both work full-time, in fact we all car pool together. We drop off our daughter, he gets dropped off, I head to my office. Reverse that in the evening. If all goes well, we can be home by 6:30. We try to get our daughter in bed by 8:30 - 9:00. That leaves us 2, maybe 2.5 hours for making dinner, playing, cuddling, reading stories, and the nightly bed-time throw down.

One morning about six months ago I saw what I thought could be the answer to our prayers. A new service had come to town, Dinner by Design. The commercial touted a community kitchen for a price, but it also said that pick up was available. I could pick up a home cooked meal? About a year ago, I tried to get in on First Slice, but alas, it was full by the time I tried to sign up into their share-holder program.

Then one day the goddess shone a light into my life. Dinner by Design was now a partner with our pre-school. Oh, baby, yes! With free delivery? Only ambrosia could have tasted better at that moment. It was all so very Rosie the Riveter*. 

So far, the convenience is fair. While we do get a shopping bag of dinners once a month while we pick up our daughter. For less than $90, we got 6 homemade frozen dinners made for our small family.  The only hang up is that we had imagined that the cooking time would be shorter. 45-60 minutes really is a lot for us, especially when we had signed up to reduce our wait time for dinner. Many of the dishes also require a 2-3 day defrosting in the fridge. Considering that I barely plan for each day, planning dinners in advance is asking a lot for me. As for taste, they were pretty good. DBD does hold tasting nights about a week before orders are due, so we knew that some of them were pretty tasty.

We've only ordered from DBD two times, but I do plan on us doing it again. Mostly for dinners that I know won't be coming from our own kitchen (Chicken Piccata). But I also know after eating a few of the dinners that the hour that it does take to cook the dinners, we should be hand making our side dishes (mashed potatoes and not by Country Crock), steaming fresh veggies, or tossing a salad. My neighbors should be happy to read that - They've offered to make a batch of mashed potatoes just so we don't buy them from the store chock full of preservatives.

Veronica & her family have enjoyed DBD's Sun-dried tomato Meatloaf with Red Currant-Wine Sauce, Baked Dijon Chicken Alfredo, Chicken Kiev, and Confetti Meatloaf (the confetti is vegetables!).  She also blogs at Viva La Feminista and Chicago Parent, where this will be cross-posted.

* According to myth (I can't find a site to verify), during WWII in the effort to recruit women dinners were available for women to pick up at the factory. I swear I read this in a book, but alas my library is not with me at the moment.

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