Northside SF  

Too busy to cook? Call Debbie Does Dinner
By Ed Attanasio

Hungry Palate
Debbie did dinners for a busy week and all
meals were A+

photo: courtesy of Debbie Does Dinner

This week I’m doing Debbie,” I announced.
“Who’s Debbie?” my wife said, with a skeptical frown.
“No, I’m not anticipating having an affair, honey,” I said with a grin. “I’m talking about meals delivered from a company called Debbie Does Dinner.”

As a writer, I live on deadline most of the time, and I was looking at a busy week consisting of 12-hour workdays. My wife is an amazing chef, and she’s more than happy to cook, but our deal involves me doing all the dishes afterward. Because she will use a minimum of 20 pans and utensils to make pasta, for instance, it ends up being a time commitment I just can’t make during a deadline week.

So I called Debbie Does Dinner, and three days later a week’s worth of delicious and nutritious meals hit our doorstep. And it was really great food. It’s described as “comfort food with gourmet flair and a healthy twist,” and I agree. It’s like Mom’s best recipes made with fresh ingredients – no heavy sauces but full of flavor. There is nothing bland on their menu, and the variety keeps it exciting while anticipating the next day’s schedule of dinners, lunches and even breakfasts.

All stocks, sauces and salad dressings are made from scratch, which is part of the reason the food is so delicious. Seasonal dishes are incorporated into the menus, and a wide variety of ingredients are used to ensure complementary flavors, textures and colors.

Here are the highlights of our week of delivered meals: baked ziti with sausage and mushrooms; a baked macaroni and cheese; a chicken cobbler; and low-carb shepherd’s pie.

The baked ziti was as good as my Aunt Irene’s, but Debbie’s differed primarily because it featured multigrain pasta and was loaded with fresh mushrooms, chicken apple sausage, and slathered in a veggie-packed marinara sauce. The macaroni and cheese, also made with multigrain pasta, was chock-full of Swiss chard, broccoli and fresh tomatoes, which hit the mark while cutting calories. The chicken cobbler, a hybrid combining the best features of a chicken potpie and chicken with dumplings, was a winner. And the one dish that stood out above everything else was the low-carb shepherd’s pie. Substituting beef with chicken and mashed potatoes with puréed cauliflower reduces the carbohydrate load while adding wonderful flavor.

Other entrees and side dishes that tantalized our taste buds were the potato salad with peas, cage-free hard-boiled eggs and bacon; tomato basil bisque; tomato mozzarella and basil turnovers; and cucumber limeade. Fresh, nutritious and delicious – what more could you want?

And best of all, the prices are remarkably reasonable. For a full week of dinners with a few breakfasts and lunch items, we paid $130. I go to the grocery store at least twice a week and drop a minimum of $100 each time. So, when you figure in the delivery, the food and the preparation, Debbie Does Dinner is doing it easily within our weekly food budget. It made our lives much easier by saving time otherwise spent on meal planning, grocery shopping and cleanup.

Debbie Does Dinner has two types of menus: a fresh menu that changes weekly and a frozen menu that changes monthly. During the holidays, home delivery of Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year’s Eve dinners are available either as a complete feast or à la carte. For dessert, you can order festive holiday treat packages featuring mini pumpkin donuts, assorted holiday cookies – including beautifully decorated sugar cookies and gingerbread – and chocolate truffle lollipops. They also provide full-service catering for corporate events and private parties.

Debbie Epstein founded Debbie Does Dinner 11 years ago, drawn to cooking as a career because it’s in her blood, she said. Her grandmother’s sister was one of the original Betty Crockers, which provided inspiration for the home-style food Epstein cooked while growing up. She jokes that her mother said her first word was “cookie,” which remains her favorite food today.

Epstein doesn’t use any packaged Betty Crocker-type mixes, and walks the talk when it comes to being green. An advocate of sustainable agricultural practices, all meat and poultry is hormone- and antibiotic-free, and whenever possible, menus use only the freshest local, organic and seasonal ingredients. “I buy a lot of our produce at farmers’ markets, and we even use vegetables from my organic backyard farm – [you] can’t get much more local than that,” she said.

So the next time you have a busy week or want to entertain, but cooking isn’t part of the plan, call Debbie Does Dinner, and let them feed you with nutritious, fresh, home-style cuisine that will have you coming back again and again.
Debbie Does Dinner:
425 Barneveld Avenue (at Apparel), 415-643-6438,


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