Foster’s Experiment – Day One

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As I think I mentioned, we decided to give the “Family Dinners” from Foster’s Market a try this week. So far it is going well, but then we have only eaten one of the meals so far.

So the deal is that you get five nights of “made from scratch” meals plus a dessert, salad, bread, and you have the option of adding more sides. For two people it is $100, and there are options for vegetarians and kids. The meals are fixed though, so you can’t make changes or substitutions. That is the downside. It means that you better like the whole menu for a week! Luckily the menu for this week sounded good, but I am not so sure about the August menus… there are a lot of tomatoey things in August. For us, $100 seemed fairly reasonable for a week of dinners we didn’t have to put much effort into.

When I was picking up our bag-o-food yesterday, I was reminded how much people over-eat in this country. I was thinking it seemed like a lot of food, but then, Sean and I normally split a lot of meals. The lady picking up her order before me though said, “This is supposed to last a whole week?” It is actually refreshing for us to have meals portioned for two people for a change, rather than having everything sized for four or more.

The picture above is everything laid out on the table. I did that to kind of take stock of what we had for the week. As you can see, plenty of food. Maybe too much! I can’t remember what all is there off the top of my head, but I will try. A whole chicken with a herbed butter to crisp up the skin, italian sausage with veggies and provolone hoagies, hanger steak, pesto pasta with veggies, spicy cucumbers with onions, huge bag of spinach for sautéing with a sesame ginger sauce, huge bag of mixed greens for salad, cheese cubes, balsamic vinagaraette, and some french bread with butter for toasting. And I know I am forgetting something because that is only 4 meals. Oh, and there was a trifle with blackberry, raspberries, yellow cake, and chocolate cake mixed with whipped cream for dessert.

Most of this stuff still takes about 20-30 minutes to heat up, and that kinda makes it feel like you are still cooking. So you don’t exactly feel like a slacker for doing this, but it takes any stress out of dinner time. There are no recipes to follow, just a simple “heat in 375 degree oven for 20-25 minutes, then put the cheese on it” sort of directions. Not that I find following recipes difficult, but after working all day sometimes I don’t want to have to do anything that requires thinking. Which is probably why we often end up in a food rut, just sticking to recipes we know by heart, or simple “toss it on the grill” sorts of things. Plus, these days I usually don’t get home until 6pm or later. So poor Sean often ends up being the primary dinner maker and I know he doesn’t want to deal with recipes. And neither one of us wants to deal with cleaning after cooking! We also decided we would just go down the list (there is a reheating instruction sheet included) so we didn’t even have to worry about the nightly “What to cook” debate.

Last night we opted for the chicken, along with some of the french bread, sautéed spinach, cucumbers, and a spoonful of the trifle. We put some of the mixed greens out too, but were so stuffed we didn’t touch them. Everything was quite tasty, and we felt like we were eating a healthy meal. Well, aside from the dessert and buttered bread. The only negative was that the chicken was a tad dry, but it is to be expected with a reheated chicken I think. In all it was a good first experience. The italian sausage hoagies are next on the list, so we will be having that for dinner tonight. Not quite so healthy, but I bet it will be good.

So my opinion as of Day One of this experiment? I am happy with it. It is breaking us out of our normal dinner routine. And that includes the debates and grocery shopping that go with it.