By Guest Blogger Fran Fried, mother of four boys and loyal friend of Dinners on the Porch

It’s the middle of the week. It’s 5:00 pm and it’s time to face the music: dinner must be prepared. There are “witching hour” children hurtling through the kitchen, grumpy and hungry. You haven’t fully thought through your dinner plan. You are almost overcome by the urge for a large glass of wine. The idea of YET another repetition of the standard mac-n-cheese meal — one that appeals to the princess who eats only white foods, and to the kid who turns up his nose at anything green and leafy, and also to the munchkin who refuses any meal components that touch — is enough to make you seriously consider loading up the car and heading for the drive-through.

This is a familiar scene, right? Claire Calvin, mother of three and veteran of many such moments, had an inspiration. Wouldn’t it be great if someone would bring a healthy, freshly-cooked dinner to your house, ready to heat and put on the table? And not only that, wouldn’t it be fabulous if that meal were a “Sunday dinner” meal, one that might involve a little too much effort for the average weekday evening, but would be a delicious and creative alternative to the ubiquitous chicken finger repast, for about the same cost as take-out?

With this vision in mind, Dinners on the Porch was launched. Once a week, delightful descriptions of the menu and meal options are posted to and sent via e-mail to existing customers. Orders are taken by e-mail, and the family dinners are delivered across central Winston-Salem on Tuesday afternoons, or can be picked up at Sociale Gourmet.

Unpacking a Dinners on the Porch dinner package has been known to bring a tired mom to tears of joy – the author can personally attest to this phenomenon. The main meal generally includes an appetizer or dip to snack on while setting the table, a main course (which can be ordered vegetarian if desired) and a side or two. Dessert and a “kid’s meal” option are also available a la carte. DOTP, as insiders like to call it, now also offers a “Get You Through the Week” Meal that arrives frozen, ready to pop in the oven on a night when making dinner is just not in the cards. Menus are packed with vegetables, often use organic ingredients, and make fantastic use of Claire’s native Texan sense of flavor.

The DOTP team now includes Alex Flowers, another mom who’s been in the dinnertime trenches. By partnering with local catering restaurant Sociale Gourmet on Knollwood, DOTP has been able to grow over the last year, and now serves up to 80 families a week.

Even though DOTP has grown into a “real” business, Claire and Alex like to keep it casual and fun with themed meals for holidays like Mardi Gras, drawings for gift certificates, and Toms shoes giveaways. And last year during the holidays, they delivered “Elf” gift packages – holiday gift baskets – dressed like elves!

Future plans include more growth, delivery to a wider area of Winston-Salem, and more community involvement through events like the Festival of Trees. To begin receiving DOTP’s weekly email, send your contact info to or  You can also “like” them on Facebook.

One Tuesday when you’re not making dinner, you can thank me!

Congrats to Claire Calvin with Dinners on the Porch for being named “Favorite Local Mompreneur” in TMoM’s 2011 Mom’s Choice Awards!