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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Thyme Savvy, Health Savvy

Preserving family dinners

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Convenience is more synonymous with the drive-thru than it is with eating well. The time between rolling down the window to order and busting into that bag full of fast food is all of five minutes. We may be saving time and sating our hunger, sure, but to what end? The consequences of a life made easier by a diet of fast and convenient food have sent our country’s obesity rates into epidemic proportions and have eclipsed the opportunity for quality family time around the dinner table.

In 2003, Carri Albrecht and her sister, Andrea Perschbacher, recognized this unhealthy trend and decided to do something about it. The sisters created Thyme Savvy, a meal-assembly business that helps individuals who don’t have time to prepare balanced and nutritious meals ahead of time. Thyme Savvy plans the menu, shops for the food, sets up the ingredients, provides a commercial kitchen and cleans up afterward. It doesn’t get much more convenient than that.

Customers begin by calling Thyme Savvy or visiting their Web site (www.thymesavvy.com) to register for an upcoming session. Sessions are divided into three categories: meals that make 2-3 servings, which are held at the beginning of the month, meals that make 4-6 servings and private parties. Each month, Thyme Savvy designs a different dinner menu of 10 or 11 balanced entrees to choose from.

There is usually one vegetarian selection on the menu, like tender mostaccioli noodles in a red wine sauce flavored with basil, oregano and diced tomato and topped with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. But most menu items include fish, chicken, turkey, pork or beef and a vegetable or starch. Customers select at least eight meals to prepare, but are welcome to make more. The cost of the meals at Thyme Savvy depends on how many servings they generate. Meals that make 2-3 servings are $11, and meals that make 4-6 servings are $16.

When you arrive, you’ll go through a brief orientation, then on to a cooking station where you’ll find the raw ingredients for your chosen meal and a recipe to follow. Those who find cooking a challenge need not worry—all the ingredients are chopped and prepared for you. All you have to do is follow the recipe at the cooking station and measure and place ingredients in a bowl or pan. If all else fails, Albrecht, who is now the sole owner of the business, is there to help. You can remove any ingredient your family doesn’t care for, spice it up or adjust it to meet any dietary needs you may have—it’s your meal to customize.

Because nothing is cooked with heat, you can assemble eight meals in about an hour. Most dishes go home in provided freezer bags, while others, like the lasagna Florentine, require customers to bring their own pans or use the disposable pans available at Thyme Savvy. Place a cooking label on your meal, put the meal in a cooler or basket brought from home and move on to the next cooking station. When you’re finished prepping all your uncooked meals, take them home to freeze. The next time your schedule is leaving you pressed, defrost your meal and cook as noted on the label.

If time is still an issue for you, Thyme Savvy will assemble 8-12 meals during a session for a $25 preparation fee. In March and April, this fee is being waived for certain sessions as part of a $0 Pick Up special. Learning, growth, connection and support can be found around a family dinner table. An hour spent at Thyme Savvy guarantees that balance and nutrition have a seat.

Thyme Savvy is located in the Capitol Plaza Shopping Center, 15670 W. Capitol Drive, Brookfield. For more information, call (262) 790-9255 or go to www.thymesavvy.com. Session times vary.