Sometimes life makes it difficult for people to have the time to prepare quick, healthful meals. But locals now have the option of ordering from a business that delivers just such home-cooked fare.
Homegrown Meals, or HGM, is locally owned and operated by Jennifer Vines and her family. Her daughter, Carissa Gay, 18, helps cook and delivers orders on Sundays, while her son, 21-year-old Kenny Gay’also a restaurant manager for another local business’acts as the delivery-only restaurant’s consultant.
HGM delivers meals hot and ready to eat or cold so that diners can freeze them to eat later. The food is delivered in biodegradable, compostable or recyclable containers that may be put in the oven or freezer. Vines said she makes the food with organic ingredients and buys locally grown produce whenever it is available and hopes to have her own organic garden by this spring.
’We have a greenhouse and (an entire) lot that we are going to use,’ she explained. ’We are also working on a grant to get a rainwater collection system for our garden, which will be a big deal since we have a drought. We will not have to use (piped-in) water’we will just be able to use the rainwater . . . (and) we will have our own ’homegrown’ vegetables.’
What really sets HGM apart from other delivery services, though, is that the business operates from Vines’ home.
’We have an additional kitchen with a big sink and everything. We just had to add on certain things like the oven, and update it (with) a prep room and a couple freezers,’ Vines said.
Vines said she takes pride in the fact that not only are her meals tasty and good for one’s health, she can keep the price fairly low since operating from her home keeps overhead low. A single-sized portion of an entree is around $6 and a side is around $2. However HGM’s ’Original $13.50 Special,’ which includes an entr’e, three sides, a choice of bread, dessert and 20-ounce drink, is a customer favorite.
HGM staff members deliver meals between noon and 7 p.m. Sundays and throughout the day on Wednesdays. Sunday orders must be placed before 10:30 a.m. and deliveries for Wednesdays should be placed by 5 p.m. on Tuesdays, a day prior to delivery. Sunday orders may be delivered to the general area around campus and downtown, while citywide delivery is available Wednesdays.
’(We chose) Sundays, because it is like ’Sunday dinner,’ and that is the kind of food we make,’ Vines explained. Then I got a lot of people who wanted additional things they could freeze or put in the oven later in the week for their families.’
One faithful customer, Joanne Lundquist, said she likes to order from HGM to help make her Sunday a bit more stress-free.
’My husband and I both work full time and he works Saturdays, so the only day we have together is Sunday,’ she said. ’For us to not have to cook a dinner on Sunday, but have a homemade meal that we actually have not had to cook’it just makes our day off together nicer.
’I like to have a nice, balanced diet and I know I am getting that with the Homegrown food,’ she added. ’I know that cooking food and making sure people are eating a nice, hearty meal is her passion.’
HGM also has a variety of vegetarian dishes. Vines said her daughter, Carissa, has been a vegetarian since childhood, and that has inspired many delicious vegetarian dishes such as Carissa’s spinach casserole, macaroni and cheese, vegetarian lasagna, stuffed eggplant, meatless meatloaf and vegetarian comfort casserole. Vines said she hopes to offer some heart-healthy and gluten dishes soon as well.
Officially open since September, Vines said the concept for HGM began a couple years ago after she began cooking meals for her friends. A test market was conducted roughly a year ago to see how the community would receive HGM, she said, and it was received overwhelmingly well. After that she began the process of certifying and licensing the business.
Aside from the low overhead, Vines said working from home has enabled her to continue working toward becoming a midwife with Tender Beginnings, a practice located in Nashville.
’Working at home is a big benefit (because) I am in my last year of residency,’ she said. ’I deliver babies and they come when they want to come, so if I can do this and have a staff that helps me, then I can leave (when I need to).
’Everyone asks me, ’So you deliver babies and macaroni and cheese, is that right?’’ she added, laughing.
James Cieslikowski, a recent MTSU graduate, is a vegetarian and patron who said that the key reason he enjoys HGM is the quality of the food.
’It is really good food. I do not even look at the menu. I just call up and say, ’Give me the vegetarian entree and some sides,’’ he said. ’They are really good people that cook really good food, and I think it is something everyone should support.
’It is better than getting something at a fast-food restaurant,’ he said, ’because it is nicer and there is just more put into it as far as love and meaning goes.’
For a look at HGM’s weekly menu or to place an order, visit homegrownmeals.com.
Name: Homegrown Meals
Location: Delivery only
Phone: (615) 904-5753
Hours: Sundays: Noon’8 p.m.; Wednesdays: varies
Entree Prices: Single serving’$6; 4’5 servings’$18.