A couple years back, someone said to me, "you should open one of those places where you assemble meals to keep in your freezer!" The suggestion wasn't particularly far fetched, given my love of cooking. I thought that this concept was an excellent idea for someone else to pursue---someone who didn't love teaching cooking as much as I do.
"Someone", in the form of seven local entrepreneurial women*, also saw the potential for this type of business, and in March 2008, opened Entrees Made Easy on Black Rock Turnpike in Fairfield. Nestled behind Billy's Bakery, EME is a place where you can go to "assemble" meals which will be later cooked at home. The idea is that you can have a home-cooked meal, which you do actually cook, but didn't have to think of, shop for, or prepare (up to the cooking stage). No cleaning the veggies, no cutting up raw meat, and no mile-high stack of cutting boards and prep bowls to wash afterward. The busy work is all done for you at EME. Simply walk around to each entree station, place all the pre-washed, pre-chopped ingredients in the provided container, and bring it home to cook later (don't worry, each station is equipped with easy-to-follow instructional recipes). In about 30 minutes, you could put together enough meals for an entire week.
For people who actually love to cook, it is easy to think "I could do this exact same thing at home for less money." At first I thought the same thing. But once there, I have to admit that there really was something fun about putting together an entire dish in literally a few minutes. Besides, as they say in the business world, "time is money", and the time you save on planning, shopping, and prepping is substantial. Fast as it may be, do not mistake this for traditional fast food. Everything is extremely fresh (brought in and prepped every single day---no leftovers here), and in its original form (no processed junk).
At the ribbon cutting celebration, I had the opportunity to taste four of the menu items. While I think the concept for this store is fabulous, I wasn't sure what to expect of the food. I figured it would be on the bland-side, in order to appeal to the largest common denominator. Not true---- each dish I tasted was really very good. The Apricot Glazed Pork tasted vaguely of a sweet and sour pork dish, and included tender medallions of pork tenderloin. The Cassoulet was my favorite. The French-style stew used veggies, white beans, pork and sausage in a herb-infused tomato sauce. The Pasta Pomodoro was a light and flavorful combination of broccoli, oven roasted tomatoes and Parmesan tossed with pasta. I also assembled a meal to take home; I selected the Brandywine Chicken--boneless chicken breasts marinated in an apricot-brandy/Dijon mustard/ fresh herb mixture. Instead of putting it in the freezer, I actually made it the next night on my grill pan (the directions suggested an outdoor grill, but it was raining!). It was a hit with my entire family----and it even came with a fresh bag of green beans and carrots, which I cooked in my microwave for a super-speedy, no-fuss meal.
Entrees Made Easy is a much needed service in this area, which is loaded with busy families who want a home-cooked meal on the table each night. Whether you work, stay home with little ones, or simply want to liven up your dinner options, you'll definitely love this concept!
Still not sure what to make of it all? Head over this Saturday, April 5th, from 11 am to 2 pm, for a free tasting event, where you can sample selections from April's menu.
SPECIAL FOR SECRET INGREDIENT BLOG READERS: Now through April 15th, Entrees Made Easy is offering a special to my blog readers---"buy 3 full or half sized entrees, get a 4th from our freezer, FREE" . When registering, just choose "Secret Ingredient" as your referral and give the promotion code "SECRET" when prompted on the "create an order" page to receive your free entree. Read on for how to get started---it's very simple:
- Go to the Entrees Made Easy website and register (under "Referred by" choose "Secret Ingredient" to be eligible for the special). Be sure to check out the monthly menu.
- Create an order online, and schedule a session to assemble your meals. (go alone, with a pal, or with a group of friends--it's a great idea for a "girls night" outing). Walk-ins are welcome too!
- Once you arrive, proceed to a meal prep station to begin assembling your meals (meals are available in two sizes---2-3 portions or 4-6 portions). There are staff members there to help newcomers navigate through the process.
- Label everything with the pre-printed stickers (which include cooking instructions).
- Check out at the desk, and they'll give you all the appropriate side dishes (included in the meal price, such as veggies, potatoes, bread, etc).
* Owners are Nina Boynton, Michelle Larkins, Ginny Longley, Melissa Trumbore, Elizabeth Barnes, Janice Feher, and Roxanne Harrrison.
Entrees Made Easy
1879 Black Rock Turnpike (Behind Billy's Bakery---enter parking lot on Katona Drive)
Fairfield, CT 06825
For more information on Entrees Made Easy, private parties, and more, go to http://www.entreesmadeeasy.com/