Deephaven mother Jillian McGary has developed a new product, Mostly Made, that reduces meal preparation time but still allows for creative cooking.
Mostly Made cuts out the meal preparation and allows for meals to be made within five minutes. The product is sold as a meat and vegetable fillings that are chopped, seasoned and fully cooked. Additional items such as noodles and cheese can be added to the product to complete the meal.
“It’s a creative and convenient idea to make a fresh dinner quickly,” McGary said. “You’re still in control of the fresh ingredients you are adding and the special flavors you want to put in.”
McGary is a mother of two who works in digital marketing. She is also a graduate of Orono High School.
In 2012, McGary’s sister-in-law was diagnosed with breast cancer. McGary’s mother-in-law had died of breast cancer and the disease runs in the family.
“It was shocking, and you don’t expect it to be so shocking when it runs in the family, but it always is,” she said.
McGary’s sister-in-law was juggling work and raising two young children in addition to having cancer treatments. That was when McGary offered to step in and assist the family with meals.
“I thought how challenging it must be to go to work as a teacher, come home and take care of the kids and then think about dinner,” she said. “Dinner was the thing I could help with.”
McGary began bringing big batches of casseroles and meals in large trays that her sister-in-law could freeze and use when she wished.
McGary said she would spent the day chopping mushrooms, onions, peppers and other fixings to add to a lasagna.
“It was so frustrating, it was so much work,” she said. “After I made the filling, I was so excited. Now the hard part is done and now I can assemble the rest easily. I thought why isn’t this a thing in stores where you can just buy the hard part?”
McGary began making lasagna fillings that included Italian port sausage, tomatoes, zucchini, mushrooms, bell peppers, onions, quinoa, fresh garlic, red pepper flakes, olive oil, kosher salt, basil, oregano and thyme. Two-thirds of the mix is vegetables. Cheese and other toppings can also be added.
The fillings could then be poured onto lasagna noodles, poured into peppers or added to dough to make a calzone.
McGary’s sister-in-law was advised to eat gluten-free during her cancer treatments so she would pour the filling on slices of zucchini. She has been cancer-free for two years.
“My sister-in-law thought it was very creative and so easy,” McGary said. “It gave her the flexibility to cook and really be creative but not spend the hours doing it.”
Later McGary began experimenting and developed an enchilada filling. The ingredients are chicken thighs, black beans, bell peppers, onion, tomatoes, zucchini, poblano peppers, cilantro, quinoa, garlic, chipotle, cumin, kosher salt, canola oil and oregano.
The fillings will last a week when refrigerated and six months if frozen.
McGary began giving away the fillings to neighbors and families to get feedback on the product.
Since she began in 2014, McGary has only changed the spice levels, but otherwise the recipe has relatively remained the same.
She has also been experimenting with filling recipes for chicken potpie and shepherd’s pie.
“Grocery stores really don’t have a section for savory fillings and this and it’s a new concept in packaged food,” McGary said. “Usually stores sell frozen pre-made meals or raw ingredients where you have to cook from scratch, but there is really nothing in the middle, but I know that is what customers really like to do.”
McGary is currently running a Kickstarter campaign until Monday, Feb. 27, to fund mass production of the product. Currently she has met $10,000 of her $19,000 goal.
For information, visit kck.st/2jndpTS.
Contact Paige Kieffer at firstname.lastname@example.org.