The idea is this: You want to provide a home-cooked meal for your family, or your church potluck, or a sick neighbor, but you don’t have time. Simply head to the Casserole Shop on Forsyth Road. You can pick up a frozen or refrigerated casserole, finish off the cooking at home and even pass off the whole thing as yours, if you want.
As a working mom, I have to admit the idea is attractive. On the other hand, isn’t the whole idea behind the casserole that you are providing an economical, one-dish meal with minimal preparation? I mean, it’s often a vehicle for leftovers.
And doesn’t the idea of paying $15 for a four-cup casserole -- and $42 to serve 10 to 12 people -- sort of undercut that whole concept? To be clear, these aren’t fancy casseroles. They are pretty standard “mom” fare, with limited ingredients.
That said, they are good mom fare, in some cases better than mom’s. And you can get not only main dish but side dish and breakfast casseroles, as well as bread and tasty desserts. There is no eat-in option, but that’s not the point. The point is to have a home-cooked meal, just without all the cooking.
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We tried one beef casserole and two chicken casseroles that are apparently among the most popular. The poppy seed chicken with rice and a cracker crust in a cream cheesey-tasting sauce was OK, but wouldn’t prompt me to send mom the recipe.
But we thought the chicken divan was divine. With its broccoli and creamy cheese, it was better than most homemade casseroles. The shepherd’s pie had some veggies chopped in with the ground beef, which I liked, and the potatoes on top stayed pretty creamy after baking. The menu includes other favorites such as lasagna, stroganoff, pot roast, green bean casserole and sweet potato casserole. A few seafood options, such as shrimp creole, are available if arrangements are made a day in advance.
The side dish squash casserole also was delicious and so filling that it probably could serve more people than advertised. The grits casserole was a little odd: It seemed too spicy to be a breakfast dish, as billed, but without the cheese usually added when it’s a dinner side dish.
Tommy Sadler, who owns and runs the Casserole Shop with his wife, Tonya, grew up working in a family bakery in Florida, and that baking background shows in the moist sour cream pound cake and tangy lemon bars with a crisp crust reminiscent of shortbread.
The shop also recently began carrying Caroletta’s caramel and other cakes. Various appetizer dips, cheese balls and chicken salad also are available.
The Casserole Shop’s web site indicates light and vegetarian casseroles also can be made upon request. They have added more options for the holidays, including pricey smoked turkey ($3.99 a pound) and ham ($4.99 a pound), and a wider selection of cakes and pies.
In short, the Casserole Shop is certainly a healthier-than-fast-food option for a family dinner in a pinch, or for satisfying your mother-in-law on a Sunday. But if you’ve got the time and just five to eight ingredients, you can make many of these dishes for a fraction of the cost and only 20 minutes more time -- at home, where most home-cooked food comes from.
The Casserole Shop
Address: 4420 Forsyth Road, Macon
Phone: (478) 757-0074
Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays
Payment: Cash, credit
Kids menu: No
Noise Level: N/A
Health rating: 100
Price range: $5.99-$42
Rating: 3 stars