Monday, March 21, 2016

Let's Visit Dream Dinners in Flemington! A Jersey Momma Review

If you're looking for a review of Dream Dinners then you've come to the right place. I visited my local Dream Dinners in Flemington, New Jersey and I have so much to say about it! Never heard of Dream Dinners? You're in for a treat! If you're like me and constantly asking yourself, 'what am I going to make for dinner tonight?' then read on about this amazing experience!


I like to cook, but it's so hard to figure out what to make every night. Yes, every single night for the rest of my life!! I wind up circulating the same familiar recipes, as I'm sure you do, too. Spaghetti....pizza...chicken fingers. Some nights I'm tired and we're home late, so I defrost something not-so-healthy (don't judge!). If I'm lucky I'll get a crock pot meal going. So when I heard about Dream Dinners, I was intrigued. And then I tried it out for myself. Did you ever experience something so great that you wanted to tell all of your friends, you have to try this? Well, this is one of those moments. Read on!

Not only am I clueless about dinner choices, but I also clearly need to get my roots done...

Where is Dream Dinners?

My experience took place at the Dream Dinners in Flemington, NJ, but there are Dream Dinners located across the country. If you don't live in New Jersey, be sure to look for one in your neck of the woods. If you do live in New Jersey, then I urge you to visit this one. As of now, it's the only one in the state! Dream Dinners is located in Suite 302 on Walter Foran Boulevard in Flemington. You can visit their store information page here.

What is Dream Dinners?

So what exactly is Dream Dinners? Well, think of it as a friend's kitchen. A friend who prepares all of the ingredients you will need for your meals, and cleans up after you, too. All of the vegetables are already chopped, spices ready to use, meats already measured out and wrapped for you to use in your recipes. I experienced their introductory offer, in which I was able to choose 6 three-serving meals from their menu for one low fee. When I arrived, there were kitchen stations set up where I could circulate and prepare all of the meals I ordered. Each station had clear instructions on what to do, but I'll talk more about that in a minute.


How Does Dream Dinners Work?

The staff is amazing at Dream Dinners Flemington, so if you're totally confused, just give them a call and they will walk you through the whole process. But the website is pretty easy to manage. Again, you can give them a try with their introductory offer (and this is where I totally recommend you start). You're not bound to anything, you're not in any kind of continuous program where you have to fulfill an obligation each month. You are in charge here. What you'll do is this:
  • order online
  • assemble in-store
  • cook at home
The menu items are explained online in detail, even with nutritional information. Instructions on how to prepare each item are also clearly listed on the website, in case you think you'd have trouble with it (but I assure you, the instructions for each dish are fairly basic!). The introductory offer allows you to choose 6 three-serving meals and reserve your date and time for assembly. Then all you have to do is show up! Oh, and bring a cooler to cart home all of your goodies.



What is the In-Store Experience Like?

When I arrived at Dream Dinners Flemington, I was greeted by a staff member named Teresa, who was super friendly and helpful, and showed us exactly what to do. There was a place for us to hang our coats and a storage area with our names on it where we could put our belongings. They had an area for us to stash our coolers, too. Our names were written on the refrigerator so we knew which shelf was ours and where to put each meal when we were finished assembling it.

This shelf was empty when I arrived, except for some welcome goodies and my name. Look how I filled it up!

They gave us aprons to wear and they had little sinks throughout the room where we could wash our hands. I was shocked to hear that Dream Dinners Flemington had been there for nine years because everything was so clean. It looked brand new.

One of the super-clean assembling stations at Dream Dinners Flemington

Teresa walked us through what our experience would entail, and explained everything in detail to us. The entire kitchen (I hesitate to call it a store- it's really like a giant studio kitchen!), smelled amazing and was very inviting. Everything was clean, the staff seemed so happy and enthusiastic, and everything was set and ready for us. I loved the pretty mural painted on the wall.

Smiling staff member Julie in front of the Dream Dinners mural

Is it Difficult to Assemble Each Meal?

I'll be honest, on my way to Dream Dinners, I started wondering if this experience was going to be fun, or if it would feel like work. Six meals seemed like a lot to assemble. Would it take long? Would it be tedious? But I forgot all about those worries as soon as I entered the door. The staff explained everything so well, and they were so well prepared, everything was set up for us to just jump in and go. Each station had step by step directions which were also color coded. They were extremely easy to follow, and everything I needed was right on hand. The ingredients looked so fresh, and I was so excited that I didn't have to chop anything up or cut anything! No knives, no cutting or chopping. Part of the work station was refrigerated, too, so you don't have to worry about your ingredients spoiling.

The refrigerated area in one of the Dream Dinner kitchen stations.

What if I Mess Up?

The older I get, the more I screw up my own recipes at home. Sometimes I forget to add an ingredient. Sometimes I add too much. Never fear if this happens at Dream Dinners! There were so many helpers on hand, that the moment I had a question or a concern, they were there to help (and with a smile, no less). And I did screw up, but just once. No worries, I was able to start over without any issues, as soon as I called for assistance! Staff member Sally came to my aide and she was just as sweet as could be. Nobody's perfect, after all.


What if I Have Questions About Each Meal?

The staff at Dream Dinners Flemington was so helpful that they were able to provide suggestions, add their own personal experiences, and offer tips. My friend had a question about one of the ingredients, and they were able to pull out a big binder and instantly pull up the answer she was looking for. If you need more detailed information about Dream Dinners' policy on health and nutrition, and how they assist guests with food allergies, be sure to read the health and nutrition information page on their website, or call in advance to speak with someone at Dream Dinners Flemington.

One of the many meal preparation stations at Dream Dinners, Flemington. Spices ready to use!

How Long Will it Take Me?

Since we were new to Dream Dinners, preparing six meals took us a little over an hour. But we chuckled because the regulars came in and out so quickly, they were gone before we reached our last station! I think once you get the hang of what you're doing, it doesn't take long at all.


What Do I Do When I'm Finished?

Okay, so, this was one of my favorite parts of the whole experience. After we assembled each meal, it went right onto our labeled shelf in the refrigerator, in a zipper sealed bag. When we were finished, we were able to sample some of the food they had cooking at the front of the room for us, which included some items from the next month's menu. There was coffee and water available for us, too. We could sit and look at the next month's menu to decide if we wanted to order again (but we didn't have to- I like the no-pressure aspect!).


Mulling over next month's menu choices with staff member, Teresa

Another thing I LOVED about Dream Dinners Flemington was their refrigerator case! So not only could I leave the store with my own six assembled meals, but I could purchase side dishes, desserts, breakfasts, other meals, and more! The staff was very enthusiastic about this part, too. Staff member Julie happily suggested items to me and showed me what would go best with my meals. I was like a kid in a candy store.


Just to give you an idea of what was in the case, here's what I walked away with:
  • western omelettes
  • mac and cheese wedges (these are The Jersey Momma's Boy's new favorite)
  • bacon ranch green beans
  • cheesy broccoli bake
  • parmesan garlic steak fries (which are in the oven as we speak)
  • Hope's gourmet chocolate chip cookies (amazing- they are worth every penny and then some)
There was so much more, too, including complete meals, cakes, and photos to match so you could see what they looked like when heated up.

I purchased Hope's Gourmet Chocolate Chip cookies and they taste like I made them myself. Plus you can bake a few at a time! I can bake ONE cookie for myself, if I choose to! Pop it in the oven and voila!

Who is Dream Dinners For?

Anyone. Everyone. And then some. No, seriously, we arrived on a Friday morning and the place quickly filled up with scheduled visitors. I talked to some of the customers there and what they told me was very interesting. Some were regulars and had been coming to Dream Dinners for years. Some had large families, some small. One customer I spoke to said she travels 45 minutes to Dream Dinners once a month to assemble her meals. Myself and two friends were newbies. One of the nicest things I saw was that the staff seemed to know everyone by name. The fact that so many customers were regulars or traveled long distances to be there reaffirmed that this was someplace special!

My cooler was filled with amazing meals and treats from Dream Dinners!

What Else Does Dream Dinners Offer?

There is so much to say here I don't even know where to start. They have a great loyalty reward program called Plate Points that awards you points for items you buy, items you rate, bonus activities and more. The more plate points you rack up, the more rewards you earn. You can read more about the Plate Points system here.  

Dream Dinners also offers Made for You (meaning, you order the meals/food and the staff prepares them for you to pick up), private sessions, dream taste sessions, in-store promotions and events, and a wonderful fundraising program

And on a side note, the staff at Dream Dinners Flemington gave us a free dessert to take home as a way to welcome us aboard, and everyone in the room was offered a prize if they checked in at Dream Dinners on their Facebook page. I took home a cute little glass baking dish, just for being my usual social media self! Then staff member Sally even helped me load my cooler into my car.

Spot, The Jersey Doggy, checking out all of my loot from Dream Dinners in Flemington. Smells good, right, Spotty?

How Does DreamDinners.com Help?

Besides all of the assistance you receive in store, the Dream Dinners website is also a wealth of knowledge. There are videos, directions, nutritional information, ratings sheets, menus, and more. Everything you order or do in the store is kept in your account online, so you can easily look back to see what meals you assembled. You can schedule freezer reminders for yourself (to remind you when to defrost your ingredients). If you have questions, there's a great information page to help you find what you're looking for. 

What's Great About Dream Dinners?

Dream Dinners was awesome. That's the plain and simple truth. Putting the meals together was fun and easy. Cooking them wasn't hard either, and they tasted delicious. Two of the meals I was sure I was going to screw up. But I didn't! The directions were perfectly clear- the only catch is to remember to defrost the meal (by putting it in the fridge) the night before (although not all of them have to be defrosted before-hand). 

What sets Dream Dinners aside from other meal delivery services is that you are still preparing the meals yourself (unless you choose their Made to Order service). I like the idea that I'm cooking real food that I prepared (okay, maybe I didn't chop the vegetables or whatever, but I still put the ingredients together!). And I think, down the line, this will mean less grocery store trips for me, too, since I will not have to buy as many core ingredients. Not to mention that I'm cooking some things I wouldn't normally have chosen to cook on my own, too- sweet and sour chicken, cattleman's pie (like a shepard's pie), seafood cioppino (and don't worry, there are more basic dishes, too, like sliders, chicken tenders and penne). 

The other thing I absolutely love about Dream Dinners is that I feel like a real chef. Tonight my husband came home and he said, 'Wow, that smells great, what are we having?' and I did not answer pizza or spaghetti or chicken fingers. I said, 'turkey florentine burgers on pretzel buns with a side of parmesan garlic steak fries.' Oh yes I DID! And they were fabulous. I'll be back, Dream Dinners! See you next month.

These loaded BBQ Pulled Pork Bites were so easy to make and were a HUGE hit with the family!

You can find Dream Dinners at 3 Walter Foran Boulevard in Flemington, New Jersey, or call them at 908-788-5500. You can also visit their Facebook page for updates, giveaways and more. Visit their store information page on the Dream Dinners website, too.

Disclaimer: I was given a free introductory offer session in exchange for an honest review. But like I always say, I would never recommend something to you if I didn't totally love it myself, and THIS one, I assure you, is a keeper!!!

UPDATE FROM THE JERSEY MOMMA

I just wanted to post a little update since this was first written in March of 2016. I have since become a loyal monthly visitor to Dream Dinners, Flemington, and here's what I can honestly add about my time using this service:

-my trips to Shop Rite have literally been cut in half. I go mainly for staple items or if we're having guests and I need something special for their visit. Other than that, I no longer visit several times a month.

-I make Dream Dinners meals in my house every few days, not every night. I still enjoy cooking my own meals at times, too!

-The meals come in SO handy for busy nights, emergencies, illnesses- you name it. It's such a huge comfort to know I can just grab a meal whenever I need it. Sometimes I even give them to people (I left one for The Jersey Grandparents when they were dog sitting for us!).

-I rate all of my meals online and earn PlatePoints for doing so. I've already received lots of perks in their PlatePoints program (like a free cooler, free side dish, dream dollars, etc).

-I hosted a Dream Taste in the store with my friends- which is basically like getting the whole place to yourselves, and you can bring wine and prepare your meals together. It was a blast and I was so excited to introduce my friends to Dream Dinners, too.

-Preparing my meals each month is actually kind of relaxing. I love having the time to myself and seeing the friendly ladies at the store (I hesitate to call them 'staff members' because they seem more like friends)

-Each month when I visit Dream Dinners to prepare my meals, I post it on my Jersey Momma Facebook page, so be sure to follow me there and see what I cook up each month!

12 comments:

  1. Awe man! You made me so hungry and wanting to go to this restaurant so I had a look at their locations and the closest one to me is like 3 hours away. Womp womp. Guess it's meatloaf for dinner!

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    1. Aw! Well, maybe they will open a new one closer to you soon! It's definitely worth trying out if they do! Sorry there wasn't one closer by. Thanks for reading!

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  2. Omg how neat is this place!!?! Just checked and of course! Closest one is 3 1/2 hours away :-/

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    1. Lol why does that keep happening to everyone? Well, maybe if we spread the word, they will start opening more of them across the country! Thanks for stopping by, CourtneyLynne!

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  3. I love these kind of places! We used to have a "Dinner Me Quickly" here but it closed down. :( I was so bummed! We actually did a girl's day out there once and it was a lot of fun!
    OK- just checked for the closest Dream Dinners to me... 90 miles away in Manchester, CT. BOO!!

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    1. Road trip!! lol Thanks for reading, Kimberly!

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  4. That looks really fun! I've been wanting to try something like it but there are none by me.

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    1. Hopefully if word gets out we'll see more of them popping up! Thanks for visiting!

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  5. I've never heard of them, but that sounds REALLY cool! I love the idea!

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    1. Thanks, Jennifer! If you're ever in the neighborhood, check them out!

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  6. Yum! Great review! Now, I'm really hungry :)

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