You have seen them cropping up all over, I’m sure. Those locations that boast meal planning at its best? So what exactly is the deal with these franchises that make freezer cooking or making meals easier?
The premise of the different franchises, is to get you into the store, help you prepare a set number of dinners for your family, to then take home and freeze. Sound familiar? Seems as if it is something you could do right from your own house.
After investigating two such locations, I found several things I plan to share with you in a moment. At both locations (different franchises owned by different companies), I was called a week ahead of time and asked to schedule my time slot. I was then given a menu to choose from and had to pick what I wanted to make and how many servings I would need. (a family of seven doubles the normal size). A few days later I walked into one of them and was greeted by several staff members. A few seemed less than knowledgeable and were unable to answer some of my questions. One lady took over immediately and began giving us all a quick course in meal preparation. That part was pretty cool, because I learned a few things. We were sent to stations to prepare our meals. At each station I went to, I found an instruction sheet on assembling that particular meal, and all of the ingredients were right there for me. At the end of the entire session, I took home 8 fully prepared meals to place right into my freezer. It was however at a price.
Here are the problems I did encounter:
One, the menus are full of many things my children will not eat. These are not exactly ‘family friendly’ establishments, though they definitely do offer some kid friendly choices. It seemed that the majority of the dishes tended to be on the more ‘exotic’ side, and that my kids are not. Cous Cous is not normally on our menu, though I really was curious to see what the hooplah was (there were like eight ladies at that station!)
Two, the cost to have someone else to purchase, set up and clean up all the mess is really not worth it. If you are not interested in JUST time saving, but also want to save money in the long run (which freezer cooking does!) than these franchises are absolutely not the answer. The total bill was over 3x’s what I think I would have paid for all the ingredients to make these meals myself.
Three, some of their dishes lacked seasoning and flavor, while if I had created them at home – I could have added. We did try seasoning up a few dishes during the warm-up procedure and that did work.
Four, you are in an unfamiliar kitchen, with unfamiliar people (unless you bring a friend, but even that is quite difficult because you are too busy making meals to chat much). At home I am able to multi task big time. I can throw in a load of laundry, pack a lunch, watch a television program and chat on the phone, all while I am cooking.
My overall opinion is this: If you want to try them out, I say go for it. If money is not an object and the ease of cooking really nice homemade meals quickly is the more important part, this will totally work for you. If you are more interested in saving money, learn how to freezer cook at home and do it all yourself. Clean up doesn’t have to be that hard if you just do it as you go. My freezer cooking sessions at home for about two weeks worth of meals, usually take about 4 hours. I spent 2 hours at one place and 2.5 at another and I only got 8 meals and paid a small fortune for them. Seems not worth it to me.
I’d love to hear your opinions good or bad. Many people love these places, so I’m eager to hear how it’s working for you.
Also for your benefit, here are a few of the well known franchises: