Healthy Summer Snacking

We all know it’s hard to keep kids from snacking on junk food while they’re home during the summer. While running from summer camps to play dates, giving in to the constant “I’m hungry” complaints with whatever treat sounds good at the time may seem like the only option.

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However, with a little planning ahead of time, you can be ready to answer those cries of hunger with a nutritious snack instead of a treat from the ice cream man.

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Military Spouse Appreciation Day

Share Some Love, May 9th, with a Military Spouse you Know

When their loved ones are deployed or they are moving to a new place, military spouses can feel isolated, lonely and homesick. Why not widen your circle of friends and reach out?

Fun ideas to make their day:

  • family_dinner_saladInvite, invite, invite…draw them into your social circle and introduce them to your friends. Invite them to play dates, parties, outings, Mothers of Preschooler groups, church, the gym…whatever you do, welcome them!
  • Offer a ride. They may have only one family car and can’t get out a lot.
  • Call and text to offer encouragement and friendship.
  • Bring them a meal! If they are ‘single-parenting’ while their spouse is deployed, they will really appreciate a homemade meal. Dream Dinner’s makes it easy – fill an insulated tote with a frozen dinner along with some sides and sweets from our Finishing Touch Freezer.
  • Offer babysitting. They might not have developed a list of safe child care yet, but, need a break or date night.
  • Throw them a party! Baby showers and birthdays make great opportunities to do something for them that an old friend might have done back home.

Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed by the masses. Reaching out to just one person makes a difference! You don’t have to change the world, but, you could certainly change their world!

 

Mother’s Day is May 11th

What mom wouldn’t love a freezer full of meals to make dinners nutritious and easy for a whole month?

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Here are some fun options to make Mom smile with Dream Dinners:

  • Sit down at the computer together and let Mom select her meals while you pick up the tab.
  • For a fun night out, take Mom to a Dream Dinners’ session and prepare meals together.  Then, put them all in her freezer when you bring her home.
  • Surprise Mom with a bag of homemade meals you deliver to her front door.
  • If mom lives far away, purchase a gift card online and we’ll mail it to her or send her an e-card (your choice). We suggest $75 for our Introductory Offer (for first time guests) or $200 for ~ a month’s supply!

Wow, a freezer full of meals – this will be a gift she’ll remember!

Teacher Appreciation Week May 5th – May 9th

If you’ve spent time volunteering in a classroom, you’ll know how big of a responsibility our teachers carry. Keeping a classroom of kids organized and focused takes dedication, diligence, and a whole a lot of love.  Education is a big accomplishment!

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Dream Dinners is an easy and delicious way to spoil your teachers during Teacher Appreciation Week.

Gather some helpers and load up their break room with these wonderful lunches and snacks from our May menu.

  • Parmesan Chicken Sliders (Great for a grab-and-go quick lunch)
  • Santa Fe Shredded Pork Burritos (Easy to bring in a crock pot and dish up hot anytime).
  • Coconut Shrimp and Sweet  & Sour Sauce with Jasmine Rice (Serve these skewered shrimp hot or cold)

Let the appreciation begin!

Fire up the Grill

Grilling this spring? Try these tips:

  1. Family-BBQ-4-kidsClean your grill. First rub the grate with a ball of aluminum foil. Turn it to high and burn off any remaining food residue.
  2. If your grill is prone to sticking, oil your grill when cool.
  3. Make sure your grill is hot when you place your meat on it to sear the juices into the meat.
  4. Pre-season steaks either with a marinade or with salt and pepper. Soak meat in marinade per cooking instructions (usually several hours), or for a steak, pat dry, season with salt and rest at room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking to absorb the flavors. Use about 1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt for 1 pound of meat.
  5. When forming hamburgers, shape about 3/4th inch thick, slightly thinner in the middle, to allow for swelling.
  6. To get a seared crust, pat marinated meat dry before cooking. Continue reading

Dreaming the Dream 12 Years Later

Stephanie Allen

Spring sports are in full swing (think baseball, mowed grass, and lots of time in a lawn chair on the side lines)! What spring sport(s) do your cheer on: baseball, softball, track, tennis, lacrosse, girls’ soccer, golf, swimming, and/or volleyball? Who knew there were so many options? Although wonderful and meaningful, they impact our schedules more than ever.

girl_soccer_ball2The novice parent has little foreknowledge of just how much life is going to change when junior joins the team or how challenging it will be to have family dinners together again. Maybe after they graduate!

My children are older now so the change in seasons doesn’t have the impact it once did. Back in the day I struggled to juggle work, family responsibilities and the never ending sports schedule.

The challenge of getting dinner on the table for a busy family Continue reading

Try these ‘Winter Game’ Contests and Join the Fun!

kids_playing_in_snowBeat the cold winter blues and throw a party for kids or adults. No Slope Style course or Half Pipe? No problem, use what you have and join the competitive spirit.

Start by grouping couples or families into teams each representing a different country and let the competition begin!  (You can have them draw the country from several you pre-select). Designate a judge to vote for game winners and to keep the games moving. Make a music play list to add to the competitive mood. Have fun!

Your first game: ‘Our Country’ Internet Challenge

Use their smart phones or computer and find: 1.How to say, “We’re number one!” in their Country’s language. 2. Sketch and color their Country’s flag. 3. Find names of athletes from their Country (one for each team mate). Limit the time to about ~10 minutes. Each team takes turns presenting itself, stating their Atheletic ‘name,’ holding their flag, and saying, “We’re number one!” Let the judge decide who wins (i.e. first team ready or most funny).

More Game Ideas: Compete in Sports you Already Love

bobbing_apples_mouthPull out your family’s favorite games and turn them into a competition. Set up a rotation all over your house with two teams in each area. Give them score cards to track wins and losses. The team with the most wins after completing all the rotations wins.

Try: hockey in the garage, a slam dunk contest, ping-pong,  X-game skateboarding course, Wii games, Minute to Win it challenges, a puzzle assembling race, etc.

Conclude with an Awards Ceremony and recognize teams with medals and prizes.  Have fun!

 

 

National Hot and Spicy Food Day

Chipolte Chicken Cavatappi

Thursday, January 16 is National Hot and Spicy Food Day. It is the perfect opportunity to combat chilly weather with food that will heat you from the inside out.

Warm up with our Buffalo Ranch Chicken, Sweet Chipotle Chicken Cavatappi, or Outlaw Chicken Sliders from January’s menu. The great thing about celebrating spicy flavors with Dream Dinners is that you can make your dinners as hot or as mild as your family likes. By adjusting the spices to fit your family’s tastes, you can rest assured that your kids will still enjoy all of these family-friendly meals.

You can also ramp up the heat on any of these dinners and invite friends over to help you celebrate. Just be sure to serve these Cream Cheese Stuffed Bacon Wrapped Jalapenos as an appetizer!

 

Have a Homemade, Made Easy Holiday

Honey Chipolte Pork RoastWe know the holidays can often come with a long to-do list. We want to help simplify your life this month, so you can spend less time checking off tasks and more time creating memories with your family.

Our December menu has three family-friendly dinners that can be made in 15 minutes: Penne with Chicken and Peanut Sauce, Creamy Tortellini with Bacon, and French Onion Turkey Burgers on Pretzel Buns. Whether you’re running kids to afterschool activities or have fun plans for the holidays, these meals will ensure that you can get a delicious dinner on the table even with the most hectic schedule. For an even more hands-off approach to busy weeknight dinners, try making our Honey Chipotle Pork Roast or Old Fashioned Pot Roast in the slow cooker. Continue reading

Small Business Saturday

The Saturday after Thanksgiving is Small Business Saturday, a movement that has been inspiring people to support small businesses across the country for the last three years. Sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, this nationally recognized day is dedicated to giving back to the people and places that have given their communities so much. In honor of Small Business Saturday, we’d like to share a little bit of our history and recognize the hardworking franchise owners in your communities.

Stephanie and TinaDream Dinners evolved from the homegrown practice of co-founder Stephanie Allen, a working mother who had been making fix-and-freeze meals for her family. Stephanie enlisted the help of long-time friend Tina Kuna and, together, they hosted the first series of meal assembly sessions in March 2002. Three months later, they opened the first Dream Dinners store and by early 2003, they had received national media attention as well as thousands of unsolicited franchise inquiries from potential owners across the country. By the end of 2003, Stephanie and Tina had signed 35 new franchises. Now, Dream Dinners has assembly stores representing all regions of the country.

Here, Tina and Stephanie share a few memorable moments from the very beginning:

“The first few months before we had our own location, we would haul all of our food into a catering kitchen that we rented by the evening. There was no refrigeration and we would set up stations around the kitchen on long counters. At the end of the evening, we would have to wash each dish by hand (no dishwasher) and then haul all the food back to a warehouse where we had stored a few freezers. We’d crawl into bed at about 2 a.m., then get back up at 6 a.m. and start the day all over again.” Continue reading

Embrace a stress-free holiday with Dream Dinners!

Our customers already love our turkey and now we’re giving them one more reason to love tackling Thanksgiving Dinner with Dream Dinners. This November, when you order our turkey and two of our holiday sides, you’ll get a third side free. Enjoy a stress-free holiday by choosing any of the sides below to complement your turkey.

Our Holiday Family Favorite Side Dishes all cook at the same oven temperature to simplify your Thanksgiving dinner. We even have your Thanksgiving cooking timeline ready to make planning even easier.

Bring Fall Comfort Food to Your Table

Outlaw Marinara ChickenCombat the chill in November’s air with good-for-the soul comfort foods that will make your whole family eager to gather around the dinner table. All of these dinners simply bake in the oven for about an hour, giving you enough time to curl up on the couch with a blanket and a good book.

Outlaw Chicken Marinara is an Italian-inspired dish layered with crispy chicken, seasoned marinara sauce and three kinds of cheese. This is a kid favorite! Continue reading

October is National Pasta Month

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Not only is pasta the perfect comfort food on a cozy fall day, it’s also the foundation for an easy family dinner. Both of our pasta dishes from this month’s menu can be taken straight from the freezer to cook in the oven for an effortless dinner the whole family will enjoy.

Layered Ravioli Bake is a kid favorite. Cheese ravioli layered with seasoned marinara, mozzarella cheese, Italian sausage, and fresh mushrooms make up this one-pan dinner.

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Creamy Chicken Florentine Tortellini is a complete dinner all on its own with 31 grams of protein and a full serving of vegetables. Dinner doesn’t get any easier than that!

What is your favorite pasta dinner?

National Potato Month

Baby RoastersDid you know that the average American eats 137.9 pounds of potatoes each year? Or that potato products are the second most consumed food in the U.S. after milk products? It’s hard not to love potatoes and September’s menu gives you many options to enjoy during “National Potato Month.”

Try our Old Fashioned Meatloaf with Twice Baked Potatoes, Cattleman’s Pie, Fully Loaded Chicken and Potato Soup or Pecan Crusted Pork Chops with Garlic Mashed Potatoes for creamy goodness that’s perfect for fall.

Wanting your potatoes golden and crispy? Pick up some fries from the Finishing Touch freezer to pair with our family-favorite Crispy French Onion Chicken or our mouth-watering Steak with Garlic and Herb Butter.

Let’s Make a Deal

What Deal can Dream Dinners make on CBS’s hit daytime game show, “Let’s Make a Deal”?

Wayne Brady hosts the show that gets the wheeling and dealing going full steam on CBS.  Check your local television listings to see if anyone wins a bounty of Dream Dinners. The show is very popular receiving two daytime Emmy nominations. Though it’s a little hush, hush, we can tell you to watch on May 23rd to see the fun cooking.