Food documentaries and reality cooking competitions may increasingly dominate Netflix, but it seems Americans are enjoying the programs more for entertainment than inspiration. In 2017, researcher Eddie Yoon shared two decades of data in the Harvard Business Review that showed that only 10 percent of people actually like cooking.
It doesn’t take years of study to guess the reasons why. Between long work weeks and family life, few have the luxury of spending hours in the kitchen to make dinner, much less the capacity to make three square meals every day, even as worrying about what goes into packaged and prepared foods has become a national obsession.
There is a middle ground, however, between heating up chicken nuggets in the microwave and laboring over the stove. An Austin startup, launched in mid-April, hopes to take the drudgery out of nutrition by providing a new take on an old idea — meal prep.
Club Home Made is the brainchild of friends Ada Broussard and Becky Hume. Both employees of Johnson’s Backyard Garden (Hume as farm manager and Broussard as marketing and community-supported agriculture manager), the pair have made meal prepping with a group of friends a weekly tradition. Now, they are translating that idea for a much wider audience.
The service works in much the same way as those gatherings. Broussard and Hume source local vegetables and proteins for meals prior to each gathering, which members prep while the pair demo recipes. The service is not a CSA box or a traditional meal kit, but it does ready guests for the week. And the social environment (complete with BYOB) helps prep work feel like less of a chore.
The Monday gatherings, running at $50 per session, focus on specific dishes like quiches and sheet pan sausage and roasted veggies. The recipes are meant to be used as guidelines rather than strictly followed, ushering creativity back into the kitchen.
“This isn't really about cooking fancy food,” says Broussard, “it's about learning how to feed yourself with simple, no-fuss methods of cooking. Austin chefs know it best, but if you start with fresh ingredients, cooking delicious and healthy food doesn't have to be difficult. It kinda blows my mind how many of my peers don't really know how to cook a pot of rice, or feel like they need to spend $70 at Whole Foods to follow a specific recipe for a casual weeknight meal.”
Hume and Broussard also hope the service will inspire members to be more engaged in local food systems. “I think a lot of people have goals to cook more, eat more local food, support local farmers, but find it hard to get to a farmers market or are a little stumped when they get a giant CSA box,” says Broussard.
Sessions are now open for May. Future hangouts will get guests acquainted with stews, tacos, and curries — and maybe a few friends along the way.