I ‘heart’ my crock pot. It’s so easy to just throw a bunch of ingredients in it during the hectic mornings and then voila! Dinner is served with little to no additional preparation required. What a perfect solution to the whole ‘dinner’ issue – at least you would think so…
One big limitation to slow cookers is that traditionally they have allowed you to serve only ‘one pot’ meals – such as stews or other ones that have the main and side dishes mixed in together. Or, that require you to prepare the side dishes separately before serving the main meal from the crock pot – which rather defeats the purpose of the crock pot to begin with.
This is the dilemma that mom, former accountant and would-be entrepreneur Diana York realized she could solve with an innovative product that truly makes the slow cooker into a complete solution to be able to easily create the kind of meals that our families eat – namely with a main dish and up to two sides. Cooked separately.
After the birth of her daughter, Diana chose to close her accounting practice and find a way to spend more time with her daughter, while still providing an income – hopefully in a way that would allow her to pursue her passion of cooking. So many of us have the same dream/desire to find the balance between working outside the home away from family or sacrificing the income and career development to be with our families. I know I still struggle with this as well – and I have a lot of respect for those moms who’ve found a solution that works successfully for them. Like Diana:
One day, I was in a store and passed by the slow cookers. I remembered making a comment probably 10 years before that I loved my slow cooker and did not understand why it only cooked a one pot meal. I had seen cookers that were divided in two but even that seemed inadequate. Why can’t it cook an entire meal? That being an entrée and two separate side dishes. After all, that is the type of meals we eat.
Something kept nagging at me. What is a slow cooker? It is just a small oven that cooks at a low temperature. So, why won’t it work? This was when I took the first step down the path and built the first very crude prototype. I was very pleased when the first prototype really did work. It really cooked the meal.
I did a lot of research to see what was on the market and did a survey of my target market to determine if there was any interest in a product like this. The results were very encouraging so, I continued working on the prototype and located a manufacturer who could make the product for me.
After 3 years of developing the prototype and working with the manufacturer, I have just introduced Slow Cooker Mate™ to the market. I hope this product will make it easier for Moms to put a nutritious meal together for their families and give them more time to enjoy their families.
I am thrilled with the idea of this product – it gives so much more flexibility to the meal options available when using a slow cooker. Especially when you have a picky family like mine who won’t necessarily eat potatoes that were cooked in the same sauce as the chicken, or don’t like a lot of the slow cooker recipes that are in the usual cookbooks. And I love that the Slow Cooker Mate™ was invented by another mom.
I recently had the opportunity to ask Diana some questions about how she got her company started and what advice she might give to others of us who are looking to take that leap of faith to bring a concept to life and into people’s homes. Here’s what she had to say:
Deb – Is there one thing about starting a business like this that you know now that you wish you’d known when you started? Was it more difficult than you thought it would be at first?
Diana – I never really thought about the obstacles I would encounter before I started the business. I just addressed each issue as it came up.
Deb – If you were to give one piece of advice to another mom who was thinking about starting her own business, what would it be?
Diana – Enjoy your work. As long as you enjoy your work, you will find ways to over come any obstacle you encounter.
Diana’s true passion is cooking – and to that end she also includes a section for recipes on the Slow Cooker Mate™ website. I know I’m especially intrigued by the meatloaf recipe she includes – and I love how this product allows you to swap out the side dishes that will work best for your own family.
Deb – I know you have menu ideas for the Slow Cooker Mate on your website, but have you thought about publishing a cookbook for slow cookers since the existing ones all highlight one-pot meals? (I’d buy it! )
Diana – I admire those who have published a cookbook. I don’t know if I could come up with enough recipes to fill an entire book. Like most of us, I tend to cook the same thing all the time.
Deb – I know you said you love to cook, do you have any advice for moms who don’t enjoy it as much but still want to provide healthy meals for their families? Are there any tried and true tips you can share for meal preparation or planning?
Diana – I have a dry erase board on my refrigerator that I use to plan the meals for an entire week. That way I only go to the grocery store once a week and I only have to think about meal preparation once a week.
What a great suggestion! I like the idea of taking the day-to-day guesswork out of the whole process.
Diana isn’t just helping to sponsor my way to the BlogHer Conference this July – she is planning to attend as well. I am looking forward to the opportunity to meet her in person, and asked her what’s one thing that she’s looking forward to the most as well…
Diana – Bloggers, and Mommy bloggers in particular, are an incredible force in today’s society. I look forward to meeting as many of these incredible women as possible.
Also, I have found that whenever a bunch of women get together there is a tremendous amount of energy created. I always enjoy being a part of that energy.
So do I – and I also can’t wait to be a part of it this summer at BlogHer. Thank you to Diana and the Slow Cooker Mate for helping make my trip possible, and stay tuned for more details about this amazing product to come soon.