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DREAM DINNERS: The Customer Speaks

Guest writes:

Lori, I have been apart of Dream Dinners as a customers for many years. Even though I have not come into the store for over a year, I recieve your newsletters and such.
Since Dream Dinners Poulsbo is in our local papers about the anniversary event I thought I would google Dream Dinners. (I do remember when their was only 5 stores in Washinton) I came upon Meal Assembly Watch. Reading the site, I knew it was not the store in poulsbo, wa. I believe your over thinking if you really think customers like myself do not know the difference.

Dream Dinners, Inc. lost me as a customer a long time ago when they changed the price on the food. I, like many families, can not afford your product. I have shared this with many people, including the corporate office. Seems like it doesn’t matter, or it would have changed.

Good Luck Lori.


13 thoughts on “DREAM DINNERS: The Customer Speaks

  • guestinagreement

    I have to agree with guest – Dream Dinners and the other MAKs are not good value. The portion sizes are too small for many adults and quality of meat, poultry, seafood and vegetables much lower than what I get at my local supermarket. The “portion price” is based on 6 servings. Most of the 6 serving meals will not satisfy 6 adults or teenagers. When you factor in actual servings you get from an entree it’s closer to 4 than 6 which increases the portion price by 50%.

    I paid about $24 for a “dinner” consisting of 6 small pieces of farm-raised salmon with a mediocre glaze. We barely fed 4 people and the food was okay, not great. Yesterday I stopped at the store and purchased 2 lbs. of excellent quality salmon for $16 and made a quick sweet and spicy butter glaze (took about 10 minutes with ingredients I normally keep on hand). Absolutely delicious – generous portions of delicious fish. Glaze was good and seasoned to my family’s taste. My husband and son made me swear never to serve them Dream Dinners again.

    No problem! I didn’t take me any more time to prepare the home-made version and with the $8 I saved (vs. Dream Dinners) I picked up a nice bottle of chardonnay on sale. Plus I got kudos from my two favorite men!

    I get so frustrated over this myth that MAKs are cheaper than cooking at home. They’re not – they are more costly and offer inferior ingredients.

  • MAKs ARE cheaper than eating at home – without question. You will not consistently be able to purchase a meal for $4/serving, plus spend time making the entree for less by shopping at a grocery store. You are incorrect that grocery stores sell food of higher quality. I’ve been in the food service industry awhile, and grocery stores are the lowest quality food. MAKs purchase from national restaurant suppliers – restaurant quality meals for $4? How can you not consider that a great value? Maybe you are a stay-at-home mom – I am not. I work full-time and I have to put a cost on my time…I gladly pay a MAK to make my dinner so that I can spend more time with my family.

    We feel like we’re eating out with those meals for the same cost and time as going to McDonalds.

    There may be internal things going on with Dream Dinners – I don’t know – I no longer go there either – but the place I go is healthy, reasonably priced, and gives me back 10-15 hours a month with my kids. Plus, i only spend about $200/month at the grocery for milk, bread, cereal, and fresh fruits and veggies.

    I am a believer – i love the product – and I hope my favorite places stay in business! I’m frustrated by people claiming things are myths without any basis in fact. I have the facts because I know the food industry. Have fun eating your meat on sale – believe me – there’s a reason that meat is on sale. Good luck!

  • Have fun eating your meat on sale – believe me – there’s a reason that meat is on sale. Good luck!

    What kind of meat do you think the franchisees whose homes are being foreclosed upon are eating?

    Meal Prep doesn’t work. Nice idea to try. It should have never been franchised. If you’re a real customer, you’re a rarity… have fun while it lasts.

    If you’re a shill, shame on you for perpetuating this foolish con that has cost so many so much. I hope you’re prepping meals at Club Fed someday soon.

  • I used to go to Dream Dinners in 2005. Back then you did save money. The meals were large. When they said they fed 6 they always did, and then some. Not anymore, the serving size is the size of your palm. I eat like that when I am on a diet. Not my husband and growing kids. The owner of our local Dream Dinners said that she did not have the power to change it, I would have to write the corporate office. I did. To no prevail, I was told they were partnering with weight watchers and potions were important to the founders. That this was thier FIRST complaint!
    Needless to say, we go to a similar place that is non- franchised. They serve organic ingredients, the portions are normal, and I know I am helping the community because the local store gets all her main ingredients at the farmer market. The average cost for 12 meals is $199.00 I pick half of them up the first of the month, then the other half around the 15th of each month.

    I think this concept will be around, just not Dream Dinners. There food is marginal and very inflexible. They do not receive criticisms well either….

  • Heather your comments actually prove to me you really don’t know anything about the food service industry. How can you say that grocery stores have the lowest food quality when they get their food from the same place as a meal assembly kitchen? Have you never seen a Sysco truck sitting at the loading dock of a grocery store? Have you never seen a Sysco truck at the loading dock of a high priced restaurant? They serve both ends of the spectrum.

    As noted, $200 doesn’t buy a month’s worth of food anymore. It’s more like $230-$240.

    And you are saying that the meal assembly meal is restaurant quality? I’m not saying they’re not good, I’m just saying they’re the same ingredients you find in a grocery store which negates your first point, again.

    What myths are people claiming that aren’t based on fact? The only people I keep seeing making false claims are the people trying to sell franchises and the head of “associations”.

    The $4 a serving tagline was a great 2 years ago, but since the cost of ingredients has doubled it hardly has merit anymore. And it’s also doesn’t fly, since by your own definition again you still need to go to the grocery store and get fresh veggies and some side item to go along with it. It’s not even close to $4 anymore. And as I’ve seen many consumers write, for $20-25 a meal they want something great, not just OK for dinner. Which means the kids need to not only eat, but ask to have it again. That just isn’t happening with the meal prep idea.

  • Chow Bella

    Here’s the short version of my opinion as a REAL Food/Restaurant expert- who HAS worked in the food biz for a lot of years-with just a little common sense and some simple research what I found is that “Heather” seems to be full of …well crap…
    My comments about Heather’s ridiculous post can be seen if you click on the link above titled:
    The “Dirty ” Little secrets of the whatever the hell we’re calling it this week industry.
    Tuckerbox is correct in the assessment that the only people continuing to perpetuate the Easy Meal Prep/Assembly “myth” are those who are still trying to sell the dog that is Easy Meal Prep/Assembly, Kitchen Outsourcing/Kitchen Studio’s, Industry.
    Heather’s post was down-right laughable and more than a little obvious.
    I suggest that folks follow-up and head to & to get the real scoop and not some half-baked corporate “talking points” from “customers” like Heather.
    The only ones benefitting from this industry are those at the top in corporate HQ’s.
    The “dirty secret” is that the owners of these types of stores are losing their shirts EVERY month trying to keep costs down to pertpetuate the hype that MA’s are an inexpensive way to feed your family. It is JUST not true, at least not for those who own the stores.
    I hate to tell “Heather” but NO food business can make money with a standard 50% FOOD COST and at the same time keep prices down enough to keep customers coming back-it’s just simple economics.
    As to the Sysco connection-well -there is no magic Meal Prep Food Fairy out there that only makes meat, poultry and ingredient products for the Meal Prep business; all food service/restaurants/grocers get our food from the same purveyors, producers & manufacturers.
    In my operation I got my beef from Sysco as did my local grocery stores. Most Meal Prep businesses buy “select” grade beef, that happens to be lowest grade of beef available for Food Service use…
    Here is something else I noticed, most people who own a Easy Meal Prep/Assembly, kitchen outsourcing/studio kitchen(did I miss any?) started out “going” to Dream Dinners, then buy a franchise from another company..hmmmm…curious don’t you think?

  • I started out going to a Dream Dinners in the greater Seattle area. At first it was fun, but after the second month, it was work. Loading up a cooler, spending two hours or more, was just not worth it. The food was 50/50 I could not count on every meal my family enjoying. Later, I tried Dinners Ready. The food was much better. but the price is Not worth the time and effort. I can easily walk into a grocery store pick up what I need and be done with it.
    The idea was cleaver- but not practical from a customers view point.

    Best of Luck to all the hurting owners.

  • guestinagreement


    I have no problem with MAKs selling their services as more convenient or more fun than grocery shopping and cooking at home. That may be true for many consumers.

    But they are simply not cheaper. Do the math: 6 4 oz “steaks” with marinade, sauce, or seasoned butter end up costing about $24 at DD. That is about $16 per pound for non-premium steak (they don’t advertise the cut, just that it’s “steak”). My local grocer sells marinated filet mignon wrapped in applewood smoked bacon for about $10-$12 a pound. I can buy a much higher-quality marinated steak for half the price and no more work throwing it on the grill. I can do the same math with items at MAKs like meatloaf, shrimp, tilapia, salmon, etc. The portions at the franchise MAKs I’ve been to are small. After a few months I realized I was not getting good value and stopped shopping there. I don’t miss the dried onions, dried herbs, cream soups, and bottled garlic. The extra few minutes I spend a day just isn’t that much work compared to the higher quality meals my family enjoys.

    Given the market conditions, I must not be the only person who doesn’t see the value.

    Heather – I’ve heard many claims of MAK meals being cheaper but I’ve never seen the math. I’d be interested in how you pull your numbers together and if it’s a realistic assessment.

  • I was reading this just clicked in on accident and found it really surprising how emotional you all are about this subject. I was inspired to leave my .02. I have been going to dream dinners for about 6 months and I love it! I know it saves my family money.The longer I go the more I enjoy their meals. Here is why. I have been there long enough to have tried many of there meals and there ingredience to know what my family likes and DO NOT LIKE which there have been several I wont order again, ( I do not like some of the ingredience and do not order anything with those ingredience. like pearl onions and the frozen potatoes) I know which meals have bigger portions and work for my family. I have just myself and my husband and adult Daughter at home. I buy all 3 servings and keep some frozen chicken breasts in the freazer. Any meals with marinades, I come home and stick an extra breast in incase my daughter is home when we eat that meal. I generally only cook for my husband and my self. I work every day m-f and come home and get to spend just a few minutes getting dinner ready and then I’m off the hook! I no longer have to buy alot of produce that ends up getting thrown away that i had the best of intentions to prepare a specific meal and came home to tired to prepare. overall, We eat out alot less which we used to eat out about 2 times a week and would not leave without shelling out atleast 40.00 by the time we added a couple of drinks to the meal. I think this is more like a little more exspensive with a family of 6. The 3 servings work great for my husband and I and as i said, I add a little extra in a few for when we have my daughter and if my older children come I just take an extra bag out to cover more servings. LIke i said I love DREAM DINNERS! I hope they stick around and I can continue to enjoy there food and services. To each his own and those of you that dont like it, dont go but, for those of us that like it, we are not dumb, we just have diffrent needs.

  • Diana:
    Congratulations on having a good experience with Dream Dinners.
    I don’t think anyone is criticizing happy customers of meal assembly kitchens – just that there aren’t enough of you.
    The debate isn’t whether it’s a dumb decision to go to one – just a dumb decision to open one now that so many are struggling.

    If you are a happy customer, know that many of these places are struggling to make money and stay open. For that reason, try to encourage your friends to come. Spread the word. Ask the owner for some literature you can share with friends or co-workers.

    Spread the word and hopefully you’ll still be able to keep going there for a long time.

  • No one is saying you shouldn’t visit a meal assembly kitchen and if you are saving time and money then by all means spread the word to your friends and help out your local store.

    The comments being made are from store owners who are having difficulty in locating customers such as yourself. Many people start off with meal assembly but quickly lose interest.

    The main focus of many of the sites and articles you read is that meal assembly, by and large, has not turned out to be a good business investment.

  • Absolutely, no one here is telling you to stop going to your local meal assembly kitchen if it meets your expectations & needs! Go every month!
    If you notice Diana this sight is called “Unhappy Franchisee” folks that are “unhappy franchisees” in many different industries for whatever reason post here as sort of a town hall meeting for each other.
    I certainly don’t want to cut off the flow of customers to respective businesses.
    All of us whether past or present franchisees don’t want to discourage customers from visiting their local meal assembly kitchens if they meet your needs!
    We all wish there were more people like you out there that would have supported more of us when we owned our stores.
    As Tuckerbox stated above, we are discussing that this turned out to be a bad business investment for some who got involved.
    We certainly hope your local meal assembly stores is successful enough with yours and others support to keep it open!

  • Doidaretry

    I think DD is ok.. a co worker invited me and they do tend to reel you in with special offers.. But in the end.. I could never use the special offers for one reason or another.

    We don’t like the DD steaks or seafood and tend to stick to ground beef, chicken and pork dinners.. I find it convenient; I have a 3yr old and 2 -2month olds (twins 1boy, 1grl). I don’t have much time for meal prep.

    It would be nice if the cost included your starch and veggie.. You only get the entree for 3-4 $$ per serving.. Not really a cost savings when you still need items to complete your meal.

    I would give DD a c+ overall.. Mostly for the convenience factor and variety.

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