What’s For Dinner?

One of the biggest questions facing any family in the evening is, “What’s for dinner?”

Three Edmond businesses are providing the answer to that question with tasty, homemade meals that leave more time for family conversation instead of meal preparation.

Many people don’t have time to cook but still want an evening meal that’s delicious, substantial and healthy. Pass Your Plate, Supper Thyme USA and Super Suppers each welcome all levels of cooks into their professional kitchens to create meals without all the time and hard work once required. No shopping, chopping or dicing is necessary – just ingredients ready to be cooked with the help of staff members. As many as 12 entrees can be prepared in a two-hour session to transport to home freezers.

Pass Your Plate
A red-aproned staff welcomed cooks to a spacious modern kitchen when Jim and Dana Quillen’s Pass Your Plate (www.passyourplate.com) opened in June.

“We provide the highest quality food and food safety in a comfortable environment,” Jim said. “Our customers are treated like guests in our home.”

The Quillens own the Oklahoma-based chain, with corporate offices in Edmond. They have awarded 12 new franchises in the state.

On a recent day, Dana Elkins and Torrie Hays shaped made-from-scratch Italian meatballs. They agreed that they like saving time and the quality of the food. Elkins said her husband will put an entrée in the oven when he comes in from work, following the directions printed on the side of the container. Later, when she gets home, Elkins adds side vegetables and the meal is ready for their family of four.

Susan Chambers, MD, comes from Oklahoma City to join Megan Hann one Saturday every month at Pass Your Plate. “It’s tons of fun; my kids love it; it’s good food, different from the usual,” Chambers said.

Hann, regional manager for a pharmaceutical company, said the concept is helpful for working women. Their session started at 5:30 p.m. and they were ready to walk out the door at 6:10 with plastic bags filled with foil pans of oven-ready entrees, including Parmesan Crusted Tilapia and Honey-Pecan Glazed Chicken.

Supper Thyme USA
Supper Thyme USA (www.supperthymeusa.com) has been in Edmond since April, owner Kim Koenig said. The chain originated in Omaha and has 14 franchises. Sitting in a pleasant bistro area, Koenig recently discussed the month’s menu with a new cook and explained the concept: the mixture of 12 casseroles with other entrees like fish and ribs translates into three meals a week for a month for most families. Everyone wears black aprons and her employees offer assistance to customers at eight busy work stations plus a private station. They also make dishes for customers and keep frozen side dishes available for purchase.

Edmond’s Mary Clow snipped pre-cooked bacon to add to an Alfredo sauce for Grilled Chicken and Chipotle Penne Pasta. Clow is retired and has time to cook, but she’s preparing meals at Supper Thyme USA to stock her freezer for when she’s sidelined by an upcoming surgery. “I want my husband and me to have something good to eat when I return from surgery and am not able to cook,” she said.

Karla from Choctaw, who works nights, said, “It’s my third time here. I have a family of four, plus I split meals with parents. It’s convenient and easy.”

Super Suppers
Six work stations nestled into textured arches along with a large community work table give Super Suppers’ kitchen (www.ssedmond.com) an Old World feel. Cheryl Weathers opened her doors Nov. 1 with her sister who lives in Texas Super Suppers now has 160 franchises in 32 states. In Edmond, Weathers’ two teenage daughters help with class sessions and her husband washes mountains of dishes and does the cleaning.

“We’re known for our generous portion size,” Weathers said. “Our healthy entrees feed six.”

Christine Gourley, who recently prepared six servings of Cornish Game Hens, said she heard about Super Suppers on the radio. Her daughter Rebecca made a King Ranch Chicken. Both are new to the meal-assembly concept but, after tackling the chain’s signature dish of Braided Stuffed Pizza, they said they feel like professionals. Gourley said her family asks what’s for dinner every night when she comes in from work. “To be able to put 12 meals together in two hours thrills me to no end,” she said.

Sara Hale, a stay-at-home-mom with four kids, including 5-month-old twins, drives from Harrah to Edmond to prepare meals because it provides a change of pace and an opportunity to learn new dishes. “I like the atmosphere – the ambiance – and I cook different things than I normally would,” she said.

All three “studio kitchens” send the same message to their customers: Assemble healthy and delicious meals in a matter of minutes – no shopping, no waiting in checkout lines and no cleanup. Once stacked in home freezers, the dishes are ready for any family member to pop one into the oven. Some are complete meals; other entrees need easy-to-prepare side dishes, like a couple of vegetables or a salad.

User-friendly websites include detailed menus and online registration for sessions. Although Pass Your Plate, Supper Thyme USA, and Super Suppers have different décor, pricing and menus, differences between the chains are subtle. But each guarantees the answer to an age-old question: What’s for dinner?

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