A Salisbury steak, slathered in gravy, mashed potatoes, corn and maybe some apple cobbler, each in its own little compartment of the plastic tray. That’s probably what you think of when you think TV dinner.

What Zone 7 Foods offers is a little bit different.

There’s still the plastic, oven- and microwave-safe tray with little compartments, but it’s filled with local, farm-to-fork and organic foods.

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“We’re really trying to bridge that gap for people that want to eat a sort of clean diet, we’ll call it, but it takes time to do it,” said Emily Hoody-Russell, who runs Zone 7 with her husband Chris Russell.

The two bought the space on Monroe Road in the Oakhurst neighborhood February of 2014 and started catering. The TV dinners came that summer, followed, eventually, by soups and frozen pizzas. Emily’s a trained pastry chef (she makes the cookies) and Chris has more than 25 years of experience working in restaurants.

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Vegetable-stuffed ricotta roll

The idea behind Zone 7’s TV dinners is to be able to eat farm-fresh foods without having to go to a fancy restaurant or spend a lot of time sourcing the food — not to mention cooking it.

The time-saving-yet-healthy aspect seems to be a growing trend with things like FitYouMeals and Nourish locally.

“I think that people are becoming more aware of where their food comes from and how it’s grown, and I think the more people become aware the more they want to make changes for themselves,” Emily said. “And I think then it comes down to time. How much time do you have to make those changes?”

You can buy the dinners in the store, at the NoDa Farmers Market, Greenman Farms at Atherton Mill and 7th Street Public Market, and, starting this summer, at the new Cotswold Farmers Market.

TV dinners offered right now include ground beef and brown rice stuffed cabbage rolls, and sweet potato black bean and cheese enchiladas. Every pizza has mozzarella and ricotta cheese with combinations of veggies and cheese.

Prices:

– TV dinners: $11 ($10 if you buy more than five)
– 14-inch Pizzas: $13-$16
– Soups: $7 for veggie, $8 for meat
– Take-and-bake cookies: $4 for a dozen

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Zone 7 also sells lunch Thursday and Friday in its location near the intersection of Monroe and Wendover. (I had a meatball-stuffed ricotta roll and the veggie lentil soup when I stopped by last week.)

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Meatball-stuffed ricotta roll
chili roll
Beef and bean chili and ricotta roll

The location seems out of the way, but it’s not, really. It took me about 10 minutes to drive there from uptown. Emily characterizes it as “15 minutes from everything.” She said they initially considered moving, but have no plans to do that now.

“The longer we stay here the more we kind of like the idea of being a little bit off to the side and maybe being the start of something on this side of town,” she said.

Zone 7 Foods, 4113 Monroe Road.

Photos: Corey Inscoe; Courtesy of Zone 7 Foods

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