Dinner Time takes the guesswork out of cooking and saves you time by dropping off a week's worth of recipes and ingredients. Emily Shardlow gives it a go.
In an ideal world, perhaps we'd all have the time to plan our meals at the start of the week and then shop accordingly. In reality, though, this can be a struggle and as anyone responsible for routinely providing dinner knows, dreaming up new dishes on a daily basis is more taxing than it sounds.
Enter Dinner Time Enterprises, a Dubai company set up by three Swedish expatriates - Karin Lofberg, Anette Lind and Karin Sundstrom - who decided to bring a "home cooking made easy" delivery concept popular in Sweden to the UAE.
How it works
At the start of the week, a Dinner Time pack filled with vegetables, dairy products, meat, fish and dry ingredients is delivered to the customer's door, along with corresponding recipes. The packs costs Dh380, which is payable in cash on delivery, and it contains all the ingredients needed (bar a few store cupboard items) to produce four main meals, each one feeding four people.
The menus are varied and made up of dishes from a range of cuisines. They change on a weekly basis, but will almost always contain a vegetarian option as well as one red meat, one chicken and one fish-based meal.
On the week that I tried Dinner Time, the menu consisted of lamb chops with mushrooms, sticky chicken drumsticks with coleslaw, fish curry with rice and broccoli soup with garlic bread.
It's well worth casting a careful eye over the ingredients in the "to have at home" list before you start cooking. Most of them are generic staples - oil, butter, salt, rice - but I was caught out (my own fault) by the dried thyme and honey.
Dinner Time operates all over Dubai and you can choose whether your pack is delivered on Sunday morning, afternoon or evening. Although the service was stopped at the end of June, when it resumes next month deliveries will also be made on Saturdays and Mondays.
The menu for the week ahead is displayed on the Dinner Time website and orders must be placed on a Wednesday for a Sunday delivery.
The company's main food supplier is Choithrams (it provides Australian beef, salmon from Norway or Scotland and local poultry and white fish), while the vegetables are sourced, as much as possible, from GreenHeart, an organic farm in Sharjah.
After trying and testing the service, I can vouch for the fact that the meals are wholesome, the portions are generous and the dishes don't take long to cook - most were ready in just over 30 minutes. I was able to use leftover ingredients as a basis for the next day's lunch and made a vegetable soup from bits and pieces at the end of the week.
The Dinner Time pack was delivered promptly to my door at 9.30am (as requested) and the ingredients were neatly packaged, with the meat, fish and dairy products all stored in a chiller bag.
While the recipes were easy to follow, I found it confusing that the measurements were often given in decilitres and it was a bit of an effort converting them; grams and millilitres would have made things easier.
Because you can't choose which dishes are included on the menu, it is a little restrictive and not a great option for fussy eaters. However, the company says that the reason it offers a set menu is to ensure that the meals are well balanced, with all the different food groups represented throughout the week, which does make sense.
Lastly, it would be reassuring if it provided a bit more information about the provenance of the ingredients. It is nice to know where things come from - particularly meat. And I have to say that I found the lamb chops very fatty.
For a family of four, who are keen to try a variety of dishes, this is a very good solution. If you know that you've got a busy few days coming up, then it is well worth checking the website and seeing if the menu appeals.