Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Bet You Didn't Know: The Chop Shop

Half ready-made, half do-it-yourself, the Chop Shop in Birmingham is a destination prep kitchen at which working moms, clueless singles, overwhelmed holiday and dinner party hosts, time-constrained families and people just looking for a fresh, healthy, home-cooked meal without the stress and clean-up can stop in and prepare ready-to-go meals for themselves and their families in a fun, friendly, and stress-free environment.

The Chop Shop offers a variety of options for take-home meals: 12 different entree options, updated monthly, are available for your "prep session" (don't worry--there's an orientation before you begin and plenty of help to guide you along the way). There is also a variety of sides available for carry-out, as well as a free mini cheesecake tray with purchase of 10 entrees. If all that chopping and recipe-following isn't quite your bag (you and I then have much in common), never fear: there is also a strictly carry-out option available, with your meals prepared and frozen by the staff for you to pick up and take home.

The Chop Shop doesn't just save you time, though: it also saves you money. Entrees are available to order in packages of 6 or 10, and cost as little as $3.59 per serving! (Dividing and carry-out is extra; save the most money by ordering 10 entrees and prepping them yourself.)

Other services provided by the Chop Shop include full party prep (with party favorites such as a Burger Bar, BBQ Baby Back Ribs, and Chicken Fajitas), as well as private prep sessions perfect for a Girl's Night Out or an alternative to the typical (boring) baby or wedding shower. (Private sessions require a minimum of 12 guests and must be booked 14 days in advance; each guest chooses and pays for his/her own meals.) Grab a bottle of wine and start chopping! (But, you careful with that. Easy on the wine.)

All meals offered by the Chop Shop include full nutritional information as well as additional nutritional notes (i.e., "good fiber source"), and include simple cooking instructions for you to follow once you get the meals home. Each entree is 6 USDA servings, and can be split into servings of 2-3 for smaller families for a nominal fee. Head to the Chop Shop to save time, money, have a little fun with your food, and maybe even eat a little healthier! (If you're anything like me, "home cooking" means DiGiorno's; California Pizza Kitchen from the freezer aisle if I'm feeling fancy.) This is a clever way to make the concept of home cooking exciting again.

The Chop Shop is located at 2219 Cole Street in Birmingham, 248-594-2210. Prep sessions must be reserved 24 hours in advance and are subject to availability; carry-out orders must be received 3 days in advance. To reserve your prep session, group session, or place a carry-out order, visit their website at For party prep, contact the Chop Shop to discuss your catering needs.