Dinner is my favourite meal of the day. Smashed avo-loving connoisseurs can fill up the cafes and trolleys with their brunch-loving ways; I am all about indulging in dining after dark.
I have loved and tried them all, from eating out in fancy white pressed-linen restaurants to small, humble hole-in-the-wall establishments and every possible takeaway, from the fast and greasy variety to the exotic.
I have also spent plenty of time in the kitchen cooking elaborate meals from scratch, using those meal delivery kits and a fair few of those freshly prepared fridge meals that you just stick in the oven to reheat.
One thing I don’t do, though, is frozen meals. I have always been a little wary of the quality of the commercially available options. So in my house, that big cold space is reserved for ice cream. But with an extra busy couple of weeks coming up, I branched out and opted for the convenient offerings of local company Dinner’s Ready.
Alison and Tim Wilson are the team behind Dinner’s Ready, preparing and delivering the fresh snap frozen meals that are ready with a few minutes in the microwave.
“We’ve been foodies forever,” Alison said.
“Our favourite pastime has always been eating out, and we both also love to cook. We’ve spent most of our careers in marketing and production, have had our own businesses, shared businesses, and had planned to semi-retire in the Snowy Mountains after living in Sydney. We’re now living in Bungendore and love combining a country lifestyle with such easy access to all the great things that Canberra has to offer.”
The idea for their new business came as they were transitioning between their life in Sydney and the Snowy Mountains.
“When we first moved to Jindabyne, we still had a business in Sydney and found ourselves often returning home from trips late at night, too tired to cook. You can only eat so much takeaway and, as people who love food, we didn’t like the factory-produced ready-meals available in the supermarkets. We spotted a gap in the market for healthy, handmade, home-style meals and so opened a small shop in Jindabyne in time for the winter ski season.”
“We had a lot of Canberrans coming in to buy meals to eat while they were in the snow, and then they started coming in to buy meals to take back with them to Canberra. They kept asking us to bring our meals up so that they could buy them all the time. We did just that and started supplying meals to independent retailers in Canberra. We quickly realised we couldn’t adequately service the business from so far away. We decided to enter into the adventure that seemed to be opening up for us, sold up and moved three years ago.”
The business has expanded with meals that range from pasta, curries and some classic comfort foods that are now available in independent retailers throughout Canberra and the Snowy Mountains. There is also an online store with home delivery offering a completely contactless experience across the Canberra Region every Tuesday and Thursday.
“Our business model is different to other meal companies in the marketplace. Our guiding principle is that it’s great food to eat – something that you can look forward to at the end of the day.” Alison said.
“All our meals are handmade by people who love food, rather than being the product of a manufacturing plant or production line. It’s cooked with premium produce and given enough time for the flavours to gently develop and blend – just as you would do when cooking at home.”
For my foray into a week of frozen meals, the results were a resounding success and saviours in a busy week. Dinner was ready within 10 minutes of us walking in the door and the meals were those that I aspired to cook. The fresh pasta options were a hit with the teenager who ravenously scoffed the Tortelloni and Lamb Ragu while I enjoyed the Teriyaki Chicken served with Thai Berry Rice and vegetables cooked in Dashi. It was certainly a meal that challenged my previously negative perception of frozen food.
Dinner’s Ready is available to order online.