Our Y-Guides group made a team visit to Dinner's Ready, a food preparation store in Bellevue. It's a nice idea, perfect for franchising: the store has all the ingredients and cooking equipment, all the
My 7-year-old son and I made two dinners: a flank steak with mashed potatoes, and a prawn stir fry. Both were so easy to prepare that I almost wonder what the point was. And the total price ($36) was far more than I'd have paid in the grocery store.
The flank steak already came in a plastic ziplock bag. We had to open the bag, dump a scoop of pre-measured ingredients inside and shake it up. That's it. The garlic mashed potatoes were already mixed and mashed, so there really wasn't much to do.
The prawn dish was even simpler: take a bag of frozen prawns, add it to a bag of frozen vegetables, drop in a few tablespoons of olive oil, some salt, and a few others. Done.
I came away wondering what the point was. I suppose if you never cook, it would be nice occasionally to eat something besides pizza. But if you have the cooking pots and pans, you almost certainly can do these recipes at home too, and the trouble of dropping by the Dinner's Ready store has got to be more time-consuming than just doing it all yourself.
I think there are two ways to improve the concept. First, make it all social -- and the store is already doing that, by encouraging groups of people to come in for reservations. Again, why you can't do this at somebody's house, I'm not sure, but still, I suppose some people will do anything to avoid cleaning up.
But a better idea would be to go for more complicated dishes, things that require expensive equipment. Like one of those really nice dough mixers, or a chocolate melter, or specialized meat grinders. I suppose the higher end you get, the more complicated the recipes become -- in which case you lose the mass market audience.