AML Staff Writer
Photos Courtesy of Kevin E. McPherson
Claire Phillips was working 50-60 hours a week as a marketing manager for a large pharmaceutical company in Santa Monica a few years back and starting to feel a bit burned out. A natural love of cooking was part of her creative personality and a great hobby she embraced as a child growing up in Lancaster. But, with a demanding career, cooking a delicious, healthy meal every night became more difficult and time-consuming. Then Phillips and her boyfriend stumbled upon a small business in their California neighborhood that offered affordable, convenient prepared foods for on-the-go, health-conscious consumers. It quickly became a staple of their hectic lifestyle-too busy (and tired) to stop at the grocery store after a long days work.
Moving back to the East Coast in late spring of 2006, Phillips, then 26, wanted to translate her love of cooking (the NYU grad had considered training as a professional chef at one point) into her own business. After she located the strategic retail space (with her now fiancé and business partner Paul Guarino), near the Paoli train station, Phillips was in business. And thus, HomeCooked opened its doors that December. “HomeCooked is any busy person’s takeout. In fact, I feel that this is a sophisticated form of takeout. If, in a perfect world, you had a few extra hours every day to peruse the aisles of the grocery store and take home the natural ingredients for your dinner that would be great. But, with two-income families and everyone working, its not a reality today. So, we have done all the steps for you with our customized meals. If you do have the time every night to make your own marinara sauce, make your own marsala sauce, trim the fat off the pork tenderloins and serve healthy, homecooked food to your family and friends that is great. If not, we are here to help! Everyone has dinner every night and they still want the joy of eating healthy, delicious food,” explained Phillips.
Homecooked’s client base varies from corporate executives to busy soccer moms to the daily foot traffic from the train station. The store’s grab-and-go case has fully prepared frozen foods that are complete with ingredients and cooking instructions, making it a no-brainer for the busy customer. And, their meals are cost-effective, averaging $3-$4 per person. Besides developing a sophisticated, healthy form of takeout for the Main Line region, Phillips also recognized very early on, per frequent customer requests, the need to develop a bimonthly gluten-free menu. “So much of Homecooked’s evolving business is based on customer feedback and suggestions. Literally a month after we opened, we had a dozen or so customers express interest in having us carry a comprehensive gluten-free line. So, we listened and now we accommodate celiacs with dozens of delicious options to choose from,” said Phillips.
Phillips has a full-time chef developing her menus daily and has surrounded herself with restaurant industry veterans to support her booming business. Homecooked is starting to deliver to daycare centers, so parents can pick up their children and have dinner ready to take home as well. The company can also accommodate bulk orders to Main Line businesses that are completely customized so locals can have dinner ready to cook without the extra trip (that night) to the supermarket. “People who really get our business are a core group of moms who frequent the store. For them, Homecooked is a lifesaver because they are providing their families healthy, homecooked meals without the usual hassle. And, who doesn’t want to spend more time with their children, with their loved ones at the end of the day? Especially when there are specific dietary restrictions, like a gluten-free or casein-free diet, we can be just the solution celiacs are looking for,” enthused Phillips.
Homecooked’s Gluten-Free Jan-Feb ’09 Menu
Orange (or Traditional Lemon) Chicken Piccata with Rice
A Light & Fit Entree (fewer than 300 calories per serving). New! Just like the classic dish created in Italy, but with an orange twist. Herbs, olive oil, and garlic combine with all white meat chicken medallions and cook up quickly on the stovetop and are then served with a sauce made in the same pan. Capers available on the side. We provide a side of rice (brown available) served on the side. (bag, stovetop) GFCF
French Country Chicken Breasts or Pork Medallions & French Green Beans
A Light & Fit Entree. Tender chicken breasts (or pork tenderloin medallions) soak up the aromas of the French Countryside thanks to Herbes de Provence (an herb blend originating from the south of France with thyme, marjoram, rosemary and other herbs), and then are sauteed in a light sauce of white wine and garlic. Simple ingredients that yield great flavor in true French tradition. A side of haricots verts (thin French green beans) included. Serve with a salad or roasted red potatoes. (bag, stovetop) GFCF
Chicken (or Pork Medallions) in a Chinese Lemon & Ginger Sauce
A Light & Fit Entree. Tender bias cut chicken breast (or pork tenderloin) medallions get a delicious rub and then are sautéed on the stovetop. Add the luscious lemon ginger sauce and you’ll be licking your lips. Even kids have been known to ask for more of this restaurant quality dish. Served with a side of snap peas. (bag, stovetop) GFCF
Honey Lime Chicken Breasts
A Light & Fit Entree. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts marinated in lime juice, honey and fresh herbs. A healthy and super quick to prep dinner. Perfect alone, cut up on a salad or in a wrap. A tasty and convenient entree that sautés up quickly on the stovetop. Side of mixed veggies. (bag, stovetop). GFCF
Chicken Parmesan Bake
One of our most popular dishes. A one dish oven entree that’s simple and delicious. All white meat chicken tenderloins are rolled in our seasoned corn breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese, baked up in the oven (and can even be cooked from frozen). We provide our signature marinara and mozzarella cheese to melt on top. (pan, stove) GF
Hearty Autumn Chili (ground beef or vegetarian)
This hearty chili made with lean ground beef, beans, peppers and onions has the perfect combination of flavors to make this just the dish to warm up a fall evening or football afternoon. Our signature “Ba-Bam!” chili spice makes this a dish the entire family will enjoy. Side of rice. (bag, stovetop). GFCF
Mini Meatloaves with a Honey Mustard Glaze
Hand-formed mini meatloaves make a great and easy dinner. Each is topped with a sweet honey mustard and ketchup glaze. Bake as many or as few as you need at once. 3 mini meatloaves per half order and 6 per full order. Side of chive mashed potatoes (chives just on top) included. (pan, oven) GF
Parmesan Crusted Tilapia over Brown Rice Pilaf
New! A fish dinner doesn’t get much easier than our tilapia packets. So simple and delicious. This month we’re using light and lean tilapia and encrusting it with an herb, parmesan, and panko breadcrumb mix. Each filet rest on a bed of Italian Brown Rice pilaf. (individual packets, oven). GF
SlowCooker Chicken Cacciatore with Rice
Full Size only, counts as 2 Half (2-3 serving) meals. Back by popular demand, and with more meat than ever before! Perfect for a picnic or an easy dinner. The secret to this extraordinary dish is the HomeCooked made-from-scratch BBQ sauce. Boneless and skinless chicken breasts cook in your slow cooker (or on low on your stovetop) with our homemade sauce, onions and peppers until the meat is ultra tender. Then just shred it up and serve over brown rice (white available). GFCF
Chicken Marsala with Rice
Light & Fit. Make this restaurant classic at home with ease. Thin medallions of chicken breast cook up quickly on the stovetop. Sliced mushrooms and our homemade Marsala sauce (a brown sauce made with wine and herbs) simmer together for an impressive presentation over rice. (bag, stovetop) GFCF
Gluten Free / Casein Free Sides
Quinoa Pilaf ($8.50 serves 4-6)
Wild Rice Pilaf with Summer (or Butternut) Squash ($8.50 serves 4-6)
Signature Marinara Sauce (32 oz)
HomeCooked is located at 1 Paoli Plaza, Paoli, PA, across from North Valley Road from the Paoli Train Station. Visit www.homecooked.net for full menu details, to place an order for pickup or delivery call: 610-647-1002.