Cooking up a new concept

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The last thing some moms want to do at the end of a work day is worry about preparing a well-balanced, home-cooked meal for the family in time to get the kids off to art, judo and ballet classes.

But that’s the reality for many moms today: work, fix meals, shuffle kids to extra-curricular activities, make sure homework is done, get the kids off to bed, do dishes and, if there’s any time left, relax.

Well, there’s a new business in town that will take care of all of the meal prep for busy families. And it’s owned and operated by a mom who knows how busy and stressful life can sometimes be.

Brenda Kennedy came up with a new concept, Our Turn to Cook, which provides a weeknight’s worth of nutritious home-cooked meals that just have to be popped into an oven and served. She developed the idea, she says, when she was doing meal prep for seniors with the VON.

“I have three kids and I was working until 6 or 6:30 every night and with all of the plans of making good meals and with all of the groceries in the fridge, we would get takeout. I felt so much guilt because I was cooking for other families but taking crap home for my own. I just thought, why isn’t anyone doing meal prep for families?”

And so it began.

“A lot of us are busy moms, and as busy moms we want to work and contribute but we’re so bad for comparing ourselves to everybody else and thinking, why can’t we do all of it, and feeling guilt for what we can’t do. I saw a niche and it just worked out.”

Another reason for Kennedy’s desire to provide nutritious meals for busy families is more personal.

“I used to weigh 340 pounds when I lived out west, then I went down to 165; that took healthy whole foods. When all my options were takeout then I was gaining the weight back. So I want to offer healthy foods. That’s why I do what I do now.”

She laughs when she recalls that when she first started telling people that she was going to do meal prep, they assumed it was for seniors. But she feels vindicated in her decision. “All day long all the calls I get are from busy moms. So I’m pumped about hitting the nail on the head with that one.”

Now her kids are older — one is out of the house pursuing post-secondary education — and she has time to run her own business.

When she first began the operation a few weeks ago she had a partner and a business that included going into people’s homes, doing the meal prep for a weeknight’s supply of nutritious meals as well as all of the cleanup work.

“It was my baby and my dream and I realized what a control freak I am about my vision, so (the partnership) just didn’t work out,” she smiles.

Now, she is going it alone and has changed her business model somewhat: Our Turn to Cook will now be focused as a storefront location on Archimedes Street in New Glasgow.

The storefront idea started from feedback received about the business.

“People didn’t necessarily want someone in their homes doing meal prep. Moms can be so hard on themselves; they were worried that their kitchen wasn’t clean enough, they didn’t have nice enough pots, big enough counters …” she lists.

So at the Archimedes Street site, which she plans to open at the beginning of April, she will offer the same menu favourites as before, but clients will now drop in to order their meals for pickup the next day. Plans can be customized: one selection from a kids menu, one from a vegan menu, another from a family favourites menu and so on. She will also have single-serving meals available and lunch options like soup and Buddah Bowls as well. But she will not have a dining area and will not be serving coffee or baked goods.

“There are already some great places in downtown New Glasgow that make their living selling coffee and offering baked goods and I don’t want to infringe on their businesses; the downtown community has been so very supportive and helpful of my place and I don’t want to compete with already established places.”

She will, however, be making biscuits from a recipe that came from her ‘Papa Jack’ with whom she shared a special relationship. “He was my best friend and I loved him dearly, but he died when I was 17.” He taught Kennedy how to make biscuits so she will offer them as an homage to her grandfather.

She says, “When you support local your community grows.” Kennedy will also be using locally sourced beef and vegetables.

The meal packages offered by Our Turn to Cooks vary as much as individual tastes of the clients. There are packages specific to a high-protein diet, diabetes, low-carb options, vegan meals, Keto plans or families with fussy eaters — the sky’s the limit.

Our Turn to Cook is fully licensed and insured, certified with a food handling course, criminal record and child protection check and WHMIS.

Kennedy is excited about her new venture that is unique to the area and looks forward to helping downtown grow.

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