Katie Smith wants people to think outside of the box when it comes to meal kits.
The health and fitness professional-turned entrepreneur launched an Urban Jars program out of her Kelowna home about three weeks ago.
Urban Jars is a portioned meal prep program that delivers meatless snacks and meals to customers, with ingredients layered in reusable mason jars. The program was developed by Natalie Gaunt in Ontario in 2015.
Smith explained that she is originally from the same area in Ontario as Gaunt and heard about Urban Jars through old friends. While on maternity leave, Smith contacted Gaunt to see if she was interested in franchising.
Over the last year, the two women worked together sorting out the legal details to make Smith the first Urban Jars franchisee.
Now up and running out of a legal suite that her and her husband turned into a commercial kitchen, Smith said she sends a new menu out to customers every week via a text message.
She said a website is in the works, but she likes using text messages because she gets to have one-on-one interactions with customers.
Customers then customize their order, text it to Smith, and her mother-in-law makes the weekly deliveries.
Smith said the menus include breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.
“They’re all nutrient-dense, meatless, no-sugar-added, no-salt-added meals,” she said. “And they’re protein plant-based, so they’re filling.”
Examples of breakfast meals include parfaits, egg jars and overnight oats. Lunch meals are salads, and snacks are savoury or naturally sweet “bites.” Dinner meals are referred to as skillet jars.
“Basically you dump it in a skillet and heat it up to cook the veggies through and you can add meat to it if you want,” Smith said.
Meals include jars for kids, too.
“For people like myself who have kids who might be picky eaters or are busy and they don’t have time to make the meals, there are kids jars, so they’re quick and easy,” she said, adding that she has two young daughters.
Smith said Urban Jars is unique compared to other meal kit delivery services because the ingredients are vegetarian, the items are relatively inexpensive, ranging from $4 to $17, and it’s eco-friendly.
“You get the jars, but you don’t keep the jar part of it. It’s recycled,” she said. “Once you’ve eaten your meals and if you order again next week, then we trade. You take the new jars, I take the old ones.”