For The Caterpillar's baby shower, my boss very kindly gave us a gift certificate to Dream Dinners. It's one of those places that are cropping up where you go and put together dinners in a controlled environment and then store them in freezer bags and take them home and keep them in the deep freeze until you're ready to take them out, pop them in a pan and cook them up. Genius. But even with a new baby and the convenience it might have provided, it was still a matter of finding some time to go there and put the dinners together. So several months went by and I still had not used the gift certificate. Which never looks good when the person who gave it to you is someone you see every day and asks, "Hey, how did you like the gift I gave you?" and you have to say, "Um, yeah... I didn't bother to use it yet."

I finally decided that I'd better get to it around February and called them up to see when I could get out there and use it. The lovely woman at the franchise closest to me said on the phone, "You know if you don't really have time to come out and put the meals together yourself, we can package them for you for a small packaging fee -- which we will even waive if you order enough servings."

To which, I replied, "Well hell, then SIGN ME UP!"

I was just going to do it to use up the gift certificate so I could report to the giver how much I had liked it but guess what? They turned out to be AWESOME! Since then, I've gone back to order a supply of dinners each month.

They're not nearly as expensive as I would have thought. That being said, I don't think I spend any less money on groceries. Basically I replace one grocery trip per month with this place. But I come home with real, put together meals instead of cookies, chips and bags and bags of cheese. I also can't say that I've spent any less time than I normally would in the kitchen -- you still have to cook whatever it is. But instead of the fifteen minutes it would have taken me to make macaroni and cheese or some other thing that comes from a box, I'm cooking things like Thai Fusion Shrimp, Beef Skewers & Sweet Garlic Mustard Glaze, or Mango Glazed Indian Salmon. These are things I would never make in a million years on my own - even if I did have the time. Since some people won't come to my house and be my personal chef, this is a pretty darn good substitute. We even eat meals now at the new table - something I'm trying to be very adult about so that my child will be raised knowing how to sit at a table and exhibit etiquette rather than enjoying every meal on the living room floor in front of the television making sarcastic comments about the stupidity of the evening news.

A couple of weeks ago, the community where my Dream Dinners is located had a spring community day and Dream Dinners set up a table. They lured me in with their taunts of "There will be a moon bounce" and I stuck around for the demonstration from the martial arts studio across the street. I hesitate to even post these because once The KingofHearts sees them and realizes how close this is, we will have yet another discussion about how it's time to get The Dormouse involved in martial arts and maybe we could sign her up there... oh and while we're at it, let's sign up The Caterpillar too because after all, she's not getting any younger.