PICTURED: Family Meal from Mama’s Hummus, with three skewers of kabobs, rice, hummus, baba ghannouj, salad and pita bread.
by Nancy D. Lackey Shaffer
When back-to-school time rolls around, many parents face it with a mixture of relief and dread. Finally — a little peace and quiet around the house! On the other hand . . . it’s a return to the early-morning rush, the carpool shuffle and haggling over homework. Getting everyone up and out the door might feel even more challenging after months on end of working and learning from home.
Getting takeout for dinner is one way to relieve some of that pressure. And while there’s always pizza, consider moving it up a notch with meal deals from local restaurants. Many full-sized meals for the whole family can be ordered, picked up and served at home in minutes. It won’t necessarily make the mornings any easier, but it will give you some breathing room at the end of a busy day — and perhaps put you in a more relaxed space as the family adjusts to another “new” normal.
5021 Verdugo Way, Camarillo, 805-482-9999
779 N. Wendy Dr., Thousand Oaks, 805-480-0888
Mama’s Hummus, in Camarillo and Thousand Oaks, specializes in Lebanese cuisine, with several varieties of kabobs, beef and chicken shawarma — sliced right off the vertical broilers — as well as vegetarian options like falafel, hummus and fattoush salad. For $50, you can get a Family Meal that feeds three people, with three skewers of kabobs (kafta, chicken, filet mignon), rice, hummus, baba ghannouj, salad and pita bread. Feeding more people? Throw in some wraps or appetizers like the spinach pies or the meaty empanada-like sanbousik.
If you want enough for a few days, or have an even bigger crowd to feed, the catering menu is surprisingly affordable. The kabob trays are the most expensive, at $130 for 12 skewers on a bed of rice — enough for 8-10 people. A shawarma pack includes sides, rice, pita bread and 16 oz. pickles and turnips for $90. Or, for the very modest price of $40, you can feed the same size group with a falafel pack, which doesn’t include sides or rice but has all the tahini and pita you’ll need.
469 E. Ojai Ave., Ojai
A simple but expertly prepared roast chicken is one of life’s great pleasures, and some of the best in the area can be found at Ojai Rotie. This French-Lebanese-inspired joint knows its way around a rotisserie (as well as an oven and a salad bowl), and thus can present top-notch casual, yet elegant, fare. For an easy but impressive dinner on the quick, opt for the Pick-Up Picnic for four people. A whole roasted chicken comes with two large sides (caramelized cauliflower and purslane tabouli are among the more gourmet options), a container of hummus with Lebanese flatbread, a freshly baked baguette <em>and</em> — possibly the best part — a seasonal fruit crisp for dessert. All for $57. Ooh-la-la!
204 E. Main St., Ventura
Yes, Peirano’s in Downtown Ventura is a fabulous spot for charcuterie platters, where you can select from a wide array of meats, cheeses and nibblers to graze on. But this is also a great choice for a big ol’ pasta feast! Get a whole mess of spaghetti and meatballs, fettuccine Alfredo, lasagna and the like, complete with garlic bread and salad — enough to feed 4-5 — for $55-$80. If that feels a little spendy, or you don’t mind doing a little prep at home, consider Pasta, Pasta (dry noodles, a quart of sauce, garlic bread and either meatballs or Italian sausage) or From the Deli Package (a pound of deli meat, half a pound of cheese, artisan bread, chips, deli salad and all the sandwich fixings) for $35.
One word of caution — many of these items require 24 hours notice, so be sure to call in your order ahead of time!
The Raven Tavern
1651 Victoria Ave., Suite 100, Oxnard
A purveyor of hearty, stick-to-your-ribs pub grub, the Raven Tavern knows how to satisfy hungry appetites. The Supper Club is its collection of meal deals, and the menu is extensive. Roasted chicken, steaks, salmon, crab cakes and more — enough for four people — with a couple of sides and either soup or salad included. Another tasty option: the Dinner Pie Pack, which features your choice of four savory pies plus a salad. Prices run from $65 to $110, so it’s not fast-food cheap . . . but the quality is far superior and the portions are generous.
86 Daily Drive, Camarillo, 805-389-9922
1601 S. Victoria Ave., #190, Oxnard, 805-985-1340
2753 E. Main St., Ventura, 805-643-2700
Big flavor at a great value — that’s Yolanda’s in a nutshell. This longtime Ventura County favorite for Mexican food has three separate locations — Camarillo, Oxnard and Ventura — and five different options for Family Pack Meals To Go. In every order: rice, beans and chips and salsa. Your choices: street tacos with two meats (choose from chicken, steak, carnitas and al pastor); “traditional platters” of chile verde, chile Colorado or carnitas; 12 mini bean and cheese chimichangas; fajitas (chicken, steak or vegetables); or enchiladas (cheese, chicken, beef or pork). Tortillas, soup or salad and guacamole are included with some items. Packs cost $44 to $56, and according to the restaurant’s website, they “serve approximately 4 or more.”