Justin West, Founder & Managing Partner of What a Crock chats with us and tells us more about this budding slow cooker, ready-made meal service.
About eight years ago my wife was pregnant with our first child and had absolutely no energy. I was working until 9 or 10 pm most nights and my wife didn't want to be awake, let alone cook, at that hour.
She saw something on Pinterest about prepping all meals for the week in one day and then just throwing them into the slow cooker throughout the week. Every Sunday she would drag me into the kitchen and we would chop, brown, and prep everything for the week to come. This worked perfectly for us! Things took off from there.
We purchased our first building in March 2014, and the build-out process was a huge challenge. We had months of delays due to building permits, issues with contractors, and supplies not showing up.
We also ran into significant financial issues as almost everything was costing us thousands of dollars more than anticipated.
There were countless times when we thought there was no way we were going to make it to our grand opening, but somehow we did it and opened our doors in September 2014. We barely had enough money left to purchase the ingredients for our first batch of meals.
We produce all of our meals with the same type of ingredients that our customers would use at home. We don’t add any preservatives and we hand-select most of our meats and produce.
We feed our own families and children our meals at least three or four times a week, so the saying "we would only serve our customers something we would serve our family" is our reality.
We ship our meals frozen to the entire continental US. We offer free shipping on orders over $99 to most eastern states and discounted shipping on orders over $40. You’ll find more detail on our shipping page.
While we’re most popular with families, we do a great job at serving many different demographics.
Since we sell our meals by the portion – and you can order just one portion at a time – our products are very attractive to singles who don't feel like cooking a whole meal just for themselves.
The fact that our meals are healthier than many other "prepared meals" but are still very easy to make, also makes us a great solution for seniors who may not want to or can't cook for themselves.
We have about 35 staple products that we always carry, but our menu rotates frequently so that we usually have roughly 60-70 products available at any given time.
We’re always creating new dishes and normally offer a few new dishes each month. We also significantly overhaul our menu each season (fall, winter, spring, summer, etc.).
Food waste is a huge issue, especially in the US. Companies like mine, especially the ones that offer frozen meals, help to combat this problem.
Since we freeze all of our products, we rarely end up with food waste from unsold meals within our facilities, unlike many other meal delivery companies and restaurants. These companies or restaurants often have to overproduce in case they sell more than expected on a particular day or week.
Our products also help reduce food waste in our customers’ kitchens, since most of the time when people are making a meal they end up having leftover ingredients that they may never use.
On the shipping end of things, we have recently started to use 99% renewable packaging on roughly 80% of the orders we ship.
We have a great customer base in the eastern half of the US and we’re able to offer very attractive shipping rates to them, including free shipping on orders over $99.
We’re working towards opening a facility out west so that we can offer our customers there the same great rates.