Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Frugal Retiree Does Meal Delivery-a Quick Review of Schwans and more

Some readers may remember my writing last July about my desire to mainly give up cooking. I don't love to cook (although I love to eat). I spend many hears doing the "menu plan" thing for a family and I am tired. Truthfully I am more tired of the "what to have" then I am of the cooking, but it's all of the same cloth. And unfortunately, in retirement I never developed the cooking as a hobby thing.

So what's a frugal retiree to do? Since then, I (we) have cobbled together various alternatives. I cook in the slow cooker once or twice a week in large amounts. Someone else cooks at least once on the weekend. We take advantage of those deli and to go sections of the grocery store for things like beef fajitas, roasting chickens and more.  I also get ready made meals.

Now, when I say ready made meals, I am not talking about Blue Apron or Hello Fresh-the kind of place that sends you the pre-made, pre-cut ingredients for a meal and you cook the meal. I'm talking about the next level of laziness-getting ready made meals that are complete and need to be heated in the oven. In some locations there are Dream Dinners, Downtown Dinners or similar places, and we use those regularly.  My primary go to though, has become Schwan's foods.

Now for the uninitiated, Schwan's is a delivery service that brings frozen, fully cooked meals to my home. All I need to do is put them in the oven or microwave. They have a nice man with a freezer truck. I place an order and later on (a few days later) the food appears at my door. I apologize by the way for not linking to the company, but I'm having trouble capturing links and the like on my tablet since my laptop has died.

At first glance, Schwans would not seem like a good fit for the frugal retiree, who keeps her costs down. A second look shows Schwans in the affordable range.  A recent order includes a skillet meal of beef Merlot (with onions, carrots and the like) that serves three for twelve dollars. Six chicken enchiladas on rice were fifteen dollars, and a prime rib shepherd's pie that serves four was fifteen dollars.

Obviously, these prices are not as low as rice and beans.  And if we were ordering every single meal in, the price would certainly not be right. But as a fill in in between deli foods, breakfast for dinner, and scratch cooking in the slow cooker with leftovers, it works for me. My last order contained eight items and was $107 for eight full meals.  I can work with that.

More importantly though, is what does the stuff taste like. My answer to that is, surprisingly good. Obviously, everyone has things they like and don't like. We tried breakfast pizza, and it was horrendous.  Most dinners we have tried though, have been pretty darned good.  The crab cakes were filled with crab. The baked ziti with ground sausage was better than anyone's homemade Italian style casserole we've had and both the shepherd's pie and chicken pot pie were to die for.

In other words, I'm eating real food, not the family meal sized equivalent of a TV dinner of the like. Certainly, as with any food, there are things we like, things we regularly re order and dishes about which we look at each other and say "eh!",

The bottom line is that prepared food works for us, and Schwans is a big part of that (along with downtown dinners, a local store that has pasta dishes and quiches ready to go and other options). Today, after making more dozens of cookies than I care to admit, and going Christmas shopping as well, I came home, grabbed a prime rib shepherd's pie and threw it in the oven. Granted I added a salad to my meat, potato and vegetables. But the only clean up was dishes and silverware. The container is all able to be recycled. And I got to sit down and put my feet up, both before and after dinner.

What can I say, it works for me. At least for now.


  1. I used to see the Schwan's trucks out and about when we lived in Portland, but I had no idea of the range of what they made/delivered. I had known about Schwan's ice cream and assumed that's what was being delivered, but to stores in the area.

    I have told my husband that when our last daughter leaves the nest that I am done cooking, but like you will probably do a couple of days in the slow cooker and then we'll come up with some other option as there's no deliver service here on Kaua'i (and if there were it would be outrageously expensive). We'll probably use delis and other already prepared foods, and maybe eat out a little more.

    1. Laura for years I thought they were mainly baked goods and ice cream. Then I met a gal who ordered from them. I eat out more in the summer, but at this time of year if I don't have a commitment, I prefer to stay in after dark!

  2. One supermarket here in Australia got vegetarian quiche taste delicious. It is about $10 ,four servings. All I have to do is to make salad .Once a week that is our main meal. My idea of good life is spending very little time in the kitchen. You found the best way to eat well and rest.Saffron

    1. Yes, that definitely sounds like a good deal

    2. Hello. Found you I don't remember how, several links ago. Guess my age.

      I'm doing much the same thing as you with no guilt at all and loving it. I hate the shopping, cutting up burying in fridge or freezer and forgetting it (whatever) is in there, and then chopping peeling sauteeing, cooking, cleaning, dropping things that shatter as hands don't work anymore, dishwashing, scrubbing pots, finally garbage. I haven't het done a fully cooked meal frozen, but I'm tired of fully cooked meals anyway. I had a baked potato with tuna and melted cheese an hour ago, and look at the time! I'm ready for dessert now.

      I'm in Canuckustan. Septuagenarian. Hello again. I love reading blogs written by grown ups. :)

  3. I had not heard of the Schwans food delivery before; it sounds like it works nicely for you. I have tried a couple of those Blue Apron, etc. companies and the food is delicious, but it is work to prepare it.

  4. Like you, I'm done cooking every night. I'm still working and my husband's retired but doesn't cook. Just ordered some Schwan's after reading this post and can't wait to try them. PS. People should look for discount codes for first time customers. I saved 30% off first order.


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