Best of the Northwest 2013 - Dream Dinners allows you to be the chef even if you aren't one - Tucson Local Media: Best Of The Northwest

Best of the Northwest 2013 - Dream Dinners allows you to be the chef even if you aren't one

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Posted: Wednesday, March 27, 2013 4:00 am

The goal for Dream Dinners is simple; to allow families to have a healthy home-cooked meal, and give them the time to sit around a table and enjoy each other’s company.

Dream Dinners, 3682 W. Orange Grove Road, #132, is co-owned and co-run by Oro Valley residents Gert Magnuson and Sue Dew. The two took over the store, which has been open nine years, about a year ago when the owners were looking to sell it and move toward retirement. They, including the founders of Dream Dinners, all share the same view and stress the importance of time spent around the table.

The hour that is said to matter the most in the day for a family is said to be the hour for dinner.

“Statistics show how families that eat together, there are less drugs, and there are less high school dropouts,” Magnuson said.

As she went from being a staff employee for two years and then moving over to being an owner and manager, Magnuson began to find out how integral Dream Dinners has become to people and their families.

“As a staff member here, I didn’t realize how valuable it is to people,” she said. “First of all, they are saving money. They aren’t going to the drive-thru, they are not going out to eat as much because they know they have a good meal ready to go at home.”

Their business also saves people time at home when it comes to preparing, cooking and cleaning up for meals.

Dream Dinners achieves all of these things by giving people a place to prepare meals based off a pre-selected menu of 15 to 20 different dinners. Inside the store, there are numerous stations with designated recipes for each station. After making a purchase and selection of 36 servings in any combination of three or six servings for each recipe, all that is left to do is to prepare the meal.

For example, to make the sherry cream chicken, one simply puts the separate parts of the meal together. They begin with making the sherry sauce. After that, in a separate bag, the mushrooms, butter, onions and some seasoning are added. In a third bag, the alfredo and onion sauce is made by mixing the sauce with mustard and pre-caramelized onions. Lastly, a bag is filled with a blend of cheeses and some more herbs and a separate bag has a few frozen breasts of chicken.

To prepare the meal, one follows simple instructions where even if they don’t know it, they are sautéing, grilling, and making a reduction; all of the steps needed to make sherry cream chicken.

Donna Miller, who lives in Oro Valley, came into Dream Dinners earlier this month for her second visit, seeing that her first visit was enjoyable.

“They explained everything to me, so I didn’t even feel like a newbie since they went through everything,” Miller said. “It’s really easy.”

Miller’s kids have even taken an interest in what she was doing making these meals, bringing the two together.

“My son, who is 14, was like, ‘OK mom, what do you do?’ I just told him to read the instructions and do that and he did. He doesn’t make meals at home so this is something that he did, he mixed it up and it was perfect.”

For customer and Oro Valley resident Katy Scott, preparing her family meals at Dream Dinners for the coming weeks is nothing new, as she has been doing it for the past six years. Before she started coming, she said about a quarter of the time, the family would sit down together and have their dinner.

“I am busy, a working mom, and it keeps me organized,” Scott said. “So, I know my family is going to have dinner together regardless of all of the craziness of the day – we come back and we have dinner together.”

Depending on the meal, with the chicken meals being a little less expensive than the steak or salmon meals, it costs about $175 for 36 servings. For those a little timid to jump right in, Dream Dinners offers the option to sample the menu with their introductory offer for $74.95.

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